Helena Lucas 

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Helena Lucas is in the unusual position of having done both Olympic and Paralympic campaigns. Having raced a 470 since 1997, she switched to the 2.4mR Paralympic class in 2003 before taking the Yngling helm for a one-off at the 2006 Olympic Test Event and winning silver, for which she was shortlisted for 2006 ISAF World Sailor of the Year.

Winner of three ISAF Sailing World Cup medals so far this season, Helena competes at the IFDS World Championships in Holland from 9 – 14 July.

"I knew nothing about Paralympic sailing before I started in the 2.4mR. After missing out on Athens 2004 selection at the 2003 470 Worlds in Cadiz I’d decided to call it a day but then I got phone call from Rob Andrews at the RYA who asked if I’d ever considered sailing the 2.4mR? Initially I was bit unsure. I was born without thumbs and have the use of only two fingers on both hands but it’d never hindered my sailing and it was the Olympics that had always been my dream, I’d had a bug about the Olympics ever since I was a kid. I didn’t know how good Paralympic competition would be but I thought if I didn’t try I’d never know so I went to Miami 2004 and realised these guys were really good and many of the top 2.4mR sailors had also done Olympic campaigns".

“The 2.4mR gave me a new challenge I was ready for, it was a completely different type of boat and style of racing and I’m so pleased I made the switch. It was funny because a lot of the foreign sailors were going up to the 470 girls in the dinghy park saying ‘Why’s Helena sailing the 2.4mR?’ You can’t really notice my hands so no-one knew. However, before I did use to try to hide my hands, I didn’t want people to make a fuss which embarrassed me but now I’m a lot more comfortable and open about people noticing. At the end of the day there’s got to be a reason I’m sailing the 2.4mR and I can deal with it much better, which is a positive".


"The Worlds in Medemblik are my focus event for this season although Skandia Sail for Gold is up there too because everyone wants to do well there this year. Having won bronze at Delta Lloyd Regatta at Medemblik in May, I feel confident I know the venue and have a good feel for what conditions we might expect. One of the things that most pleased me about my Delta Lloyd performance was my tactics; in the past I’ve been a bit vulnerable to letting my head drop if things haven’t been going my way but in Holland I was much more aggressive at sailing my own race, doing what I thought was right, being patient and waiting for opportunities. That was even truer at the next regatta at Kiel when I started off with a 17th but kept chipping away and ended up with silver".

"It’s a great confidence boost going into the Worlds knowing my mental attitude has been good and if I can maintain that and get some good starts hopefully the results will look after themselves. The 2.4mR is a tough fleet and myself and Meg (Pascoe) are among the only females. Racing against males is a bit different; they’re more aggressive on the water and they really don’t like getting beaten by girls! But particularly the top guys have been so accepting and supportive since I moved into the class. I think because my background is similar to theirs they see it as giving the class even more credibility; they want to race the best sailors".

"Beijing 2008 was a big disappointment and I’d love to have the chance to put that right at London 2012. I’d hyped it up too much in my head it was almost a bit of an anti-climax. I also went into the regatta feeling unprepared. I had a new boat and was still working on it out there. I wasn’t able to do all the training I’d wanted to do and I felt I hadn’t ticked all the boxes I’d wanted to tick, which played on my mind. Looking back I can see there were opportunities I missed that if my mindset had been different I still could have performed better. I’ve being a lot of work on mindset since Beijing and hopefully what happened has been a massively positive learning experience".

"Meg’s a big rival for the British 2012 berth but I can only take each regatta as it comes as a stepping stone to the trials and not look too far ahead. But the buzz around the Olympics is definitely starting to grow now. I’d love to see Lucy Macgregor and Annie Lush, who were my Yngling crew at the 2006 Olympic Test Event, medal in the match racing at 2012. They worked so, so hard after not being selected for Beijing they deserve to be where they are now. Paul Goodison is also unbelievable and in many ways looks like he’s stepping into Ben Ainslie’s shoes in his ability to dominate a class. It’s impossible to call the 49ers and the 470 women are also going to be really interesting to watch".

"We’ve all got a full-on couple of months ahead but I’ve got something to really look forward to at the end-of-the-season as I’m getting married on October 9. Bless my mum and dad they’re doing absolutely everything because I’m so busy sailing and my partner Steve is working in Turkey. They’ve been brilliant and I think all I’ve got to do now is pick a dress and find some flowers!"