After five days of stiff competition at the Para Sailing World Championships at Sail Sheboygan, USA, British duo Will Street and Jonny Currell were victorious in bringing home the Gold medal in the RS Venture Connect Final.
Following a strong performance in the qualification races, British Paralympians Hannah Stodel and Alexandra Rickham lead the group into the winner-takes-all final. They were joined by Spain’s Enrique Vives and Gabriel Barroso de Maria, John McRoberts and Scott Lutes (CAN), as well as Street and Currell (GBR) on the start line for the final on Saturday, 22 September.
All four teams had a clean start as the final race got underway in variable winds, but it wasn’t long before Street and Currell hit the first mark and were forced to do a 360-degree penalty turn, dropping to the back of the pack. The inconsistent winds persisted and a fight for position ensued. Finally Street and Currell found some breeze, managing to claw their way back into contention and continued on to victory.
Currell said: “It was really light and shifty out there today. The wind kept dropping off and it would come in from different angles. We played it tactically and we went to the side that we thought the wind would come in from and it paid off.
“We had an issue, we did hit mark one and we had to spin. We were last after that. We had a lot of catching up to do but we kept cool and sailed fast. We knew there was plenty of time left in the race and we kept a level head.
“We can’t quite believe that we’ve won. We’ve done great.”
Street added: “It wasn’t easy. We only sailed the boat a few weeks before this event so there was so much learning. In that last race, we implemented everything we learnt to win.”
McRoberts and Lutes (CAN) narrowly missed out on second place, as Spain’s Vives and Barroso de Maria took the Silver medal, with the Canadians securing the Bronze. Great Britain’s Stodel and Rickham took 4th place.
In the remaining classes; Matt Bugg (AUS) took home the Gold after the first ever 2.4 Norlin OD Medal Race and Christopher Symonds (AUS) and Ana Paula Marques (BRA) secured Gold medals in the Men's and Women's Hansa 303.
For the other sailors in the British contingent, 16 year old Rory McKinna came 14th overall in the Men’s Hansa 303, with Carole Dugdale finishing 17th in the 2.4 Norlin OD.
98 sailors from 39 nations came together in Sheboygan, a celebration of the best-of-the-best and a showcase of Para-Sailing. Following the recent disappointing news that Sailing will not be reinstated for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, it is more important than ever to get behind our sailors. The RYA continues to ensure that disabled sailing is supported from grassroots to top-level racing.
The next Para World Sailing Championships will be held in Puerto Sherry, Spain in June 2019. To find out how you can get involved in disabled sailing throughout the UK visit www.rya.org.uk/go/sailability.