Light wind specialists shine at the Para World Sailing Championships
tactical specialists came to the forefront on the opening day of racing at
the 2017 Para World Sailing Championships as a challenging breeze tested the
The Para Worlds, held alongside Kieler Woche (Kiel Week) sailing festival in
Kiel, Germany, saw more than 80 sailors from 39 nations tested by an
inconsistent 6-9 knot west north westerly breeze.
Two races were completed in the Open 2.4 Norlin OD, Men's Hansa 303 and
Women's Hansa 303, all One Person Keelboats open to classified sailors with
Those who thrive in light wind and sailors with their thinking caps on,
constantly looking for shifts and gains on the water, moved to the head of
their respective fleets.
Christopher Symonds (AUS) took two race wins in the Men's Hansa 303 with Rio
2016 Paralympian Piotr Cichocki (POL) following on both occasions.
The Australian and Polish racers hold the gold and silver positions at the
early stage of the regatta. Three-time Paralympic medallist Jens Kroker (GER)
follows in third overall.
In amongst a field of experienced Paralympians, Symonds' early success does
not come as a surprise as he holds world and national titles in the Hansa 303.
Cichocki and Kroker fought for the medals at Rio 2016 and with their
experience Symonds has noticed an increase in competition and is enjoying
sharing the start line with new faces, "It's pretty special,” he paused.
"When you get on the start line and you see people looking up to
windward beat with just over a minute to go you know the sailors are switched
on and watching. Those two guys [Cichocki and Kroker] were doing that and
they're very good sailors. There's no doubt about that. To be amongst them is
"I'm not a Paralympic sailor but I have been sailing for many years,
since I was ten and I love it. My condition with Kennedy's Disease has
stopped me sailing bigger boats so now I'm in the smaller boats, travelling
the world and loving it.”
Symonds has dedicated his life to sailing and since the 1970s he has taken
multiple honours within the sport. His wealth of knowledge is high and knows
that he can not take anything for granted, much like a certain team in the
America's Cup right now, "We've got a long way to go. It's like being in
Team New Zealand and not getting ahead of ourselves.”
In the challenging 7-9 knot breeze, the conditions suited the lighter
sailors, such as Symonds. The slightly heavier Cichocki and Kroker used their
tactical nous to sail at the front of the pack.
The forecast for the rest of the week is for stronger breeze and Cichocki
knows he can make the gains to overhaul Symonds, "The Australian sailed
really well and he's a good sailor but I'm slightly heavier so he had some
extra speed on me. The regatta is really long and we need to focus on the
In the Women's Hansa 303, France's Magali Moraines and Spanish Rio 2016
Paralympian Violeta del Reino share the lead on four points.
Moraines took the opening race win and followed up with a fourth. Del Reino
sailed consistently, finishing second in both races.
Rio 2016 Paralympian Qian Yin Yap (SIN) took the day's other race win and is
Daniel Bina of the Czech Republic was the surprise package in the 2.4 Norlin
OD, grabbing a first and a third to lead the 43-boat fleet.
Full of smiles after racing even the man himself could not believe his start,
"I am really pleased because I never sail like that. My results are
usually just in the top ten.
"Today was difficult because the wind was up and down and there was not
a clear strategy to take. It's a piece of luck as well because of the shifts
and if you were in the wrong place, you had no chance.”
Whether it was Bina's skill of reading the day's wind or as he puts it,
"his luck” is to be told and Thursday's racing will be pivotal for him
to continue with his form.
Germany's Heiko Kroger is second overall after recording a fourth and second
to sit two points off Bina.
Athens 2004 and Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist Damien Seguin (FRA) won
the second race of the day and occupies the final podium spot after two
Seguin spoke to World Sailing on Facebook Live after racing on the event, its
importance and the quality of racing in Kiel. Click
here to watch and share the video.
Racing resumes on Thursday 22 June at 12:00 local time for the Hansa 303
fleets. The 2.4 Norlin OD fleet will commence at 13:30 local time.
By Daniel Smith –
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