Para sailing: where next? 

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Olympic gold medallist Helena Lucas on the journey for Paralympic reinstatement

With Paralympic sailing missing out Tokyo 2020, the RYA is on a mission to continue to support sailors and increase racing at Sailability, Sailing and High Performance Clubs.

As part of the support, the RYA has been offering a number of travel grants and coaching at key 2.4mR events this year, including the Para World Sailing Championships held in June at Kiel.

Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas, who retired post-Rio, coached the three British 2.4mR boats in Kiel and was impressed by the spectacle. With over 80 boat from 39 nations, the sailors certainly made an impact.

“It was an amazing turnout, both in the Hansa and 2.4mR class. I was really impressed by the quality of the fleet. Everyone was there, Rio Paralympic gold and silver medallists, world champions… All the names were there so it was a really top quality fleet and a really good display on the part of the sailors getting to Kiel and making that effort. It was great to have a representative from the IPC who could see the fantastic turnout and effort involved," explained Lucas.

“I absolutely loved coaching, I thoroughly enjoyed the Worlds and it was really interesting to sit on the other side of the fence and watch all my major rivals. I’ve never had the opportunity to that before!

“The new Hansa class is helping the emerging nations get on the startline and to come to a World Championships. At the moment, that’s what it’s all about in order to get the Paralympics reinstated for 2024 – one of the key facts for the IPC is the number of nations taking part so I think the Hansa might help give that opportunity.”

With World Sailing and the RYA offering grants, Helena urges sailors to approach World Sailing for advice and support as well engaging in events. Commenting on her own Paralympic 2.4mR experience, Helena believes the activity is very much still there.

“I’m probably slightly biased, but the 2.4mR is a brilliant class, there are loads of events taking place in the UK and internationally. The class has such an able-bodied following too, and it when you get in the boat it’s a level playing field.

“Hopefully when discussions start in 2018 for 2024 inclusion, Paralympic sailing can make a positive impression and revive itself. There are lots of really enthusiastic and passionate people who want to make it happen,” concluded Lucas.

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