Britain's sailors have returned from the 2017 Hansa European Championships with a silver and bronze medal as a large contingent of 15 sailors and 20 team volunteers got their just rewards in Mèze, France from 21-27 October.
National Champion, Lindsay Burns (Frensham Pond) finished second on Hansa 2.3 the podium while Whitefrairs Sailability's David Durston took third spot overall in the 17-strong Liberty fleet.
As an Open event, the Europeans pitched the sailors with varying degrees of disability, and different needs on and off the water, against others from other countries with no disabilities again proving, that once on the water, sailing provides a level playing field for sailors of all abilities.
The British team comprised eight Libertys, six Hansa 303 singles and a Hansa 2.3 while coach support was provided by RYA Disability Development Officer, Brett Cokayne.
Conditions over the week varied considerably, making it difficult to complete the scheduled 10 races for each class. Monday and Friday saw too much wind and strong gusts while both Tuesday and Thursday morning were too light to race, but built marginally in the afternoons to enable some races to be run. Wednesday was the opposite, with racing in the morning and disruption in the afternoon.
In the Liberty fleet, race one race delivered the same positions as the results for the whole event. Bob Schahinger (AUS) first, Vera Voorbach (NED) second and David Durston (GBR) third. But this didn’t tell the whole story of the Brits' performance.
Pat Crowley (Rutland, representing Ireland) achieved a hat-trick of top three positions while three other GBR sailors also had a top three result. By time of the seventh and the last race, the GB sailors really had found their sea legs, Chris Emmett, Tess Watkiss, David Durston, and Paul Phillips securing an all British 1, 2, 3, 4. Overall five of the top seven places were taken by GBR in the final standings.
Australian gold medalist Bob is able-bodied, while Vera relies on servo controls to steer and control the sails and David needs servo for the sails.
Just half the scheduled races were completed in the fierce 2.3 fleet, which, although small, contained some of the best 2.3 sailors in the world. The first two races were hard fought, but the rough conditions and a dislocated shoulder in the second race, left Lindsay with two fifth places.
It wasn’t until Thursday that conditions enabled the 2.3s to race again and in the light shifty winds Lindsay loves she annihilated the opposition, gaining three first places to take silver, sandwiched between Portugal's Andre Bento and Fernando Pinto.
Frensham Pond's Margaret Foreman got off to a great start in the 303 singles, battling to achieve a third place out of 39 boats in the first race on Monday. This class has become very popular since its selection as a Para World Sailing class. Unfortunately, there were only five races completed for this class over the week, and with the lighter winds Margaret dropped to 12th overall.
Fresh from his second place at the European Para Youth Games, Rory McKinna put in a good performance to finish 19th in the largest fleet he had ever sailed in. New to sailing and in chartered boats with borrowed sails, two other Scotsmen made the long journey south to take part - Craig Holland finished 26th and Phil Reoch 38th. The honours were taken by Piotre Cochoki (POL) Simon Berthelot (FRA) and Cecile Vanuat (FRA).
There was no GB representation in the 37-entry 303 two-person fleet. This class was completely dominated by the French who took all the podium places.
For full results click here - 2017 Hansa European Championships final standings
Now the preparation and fundraising starts to enable a team to participate in the World Championships in Hiroshima, October 2018. Want to help back the team click here - Hansa Class UK My Donate Page