The Team UK British sailors have landed down under and are looking ahead to Sunday’s racing which will take place against the beautiful backdrop of Sydney Harbour.
Accompanied by RYA disability racing coach Brett Cokayne, the sailors are preparing for the games and took to the water on Friday (19 October) for a familiarisation sail and coaching session.
The sailors were also joined by Invictus Games sailing ambassador and America’s Cup Winner, Jimmy Spithill. Jimmy provided the team with an off the water debrief and some coaching tips ahead of the racing on Sunday.
Brett commented: “We had a great day on the water today. The boats were out for about two hours sailing in winds ranging from eight to 15 knots, it was perfect.
He continued: “Having Jimmy (Spithill) on hand to share his experience and offer advice to the team was brilliant. Everyone is so excited about the weekend and can’t wait to get back out on the water. Bring on Sunday!”
In the first Team UK boat, helmswoman Poppy Pawsey will be joined by John Shepard, Sadie Melling and Andrew ‘Pav’ Taylor.
Also competing in the team event will be Daniel Majid, Lavinia Goddard, Dave Watts and Debbie Godfrey.
Daniel, who only started sailing earlier this year commented: “My history in sailing is only this year. There’s a real freedom to it, you’re literally travelling and moving forward. It shows that you can learn new things, that you’re still capable of accomplishing things.
He added: “It’s going to be an amazing experience to sail on Sydney Harbour. I think it’s going to be one of these snippets for me to keep in my back pocket for years to come, a real conversation starter.”
Hoping to do his family proud, Spencer Bull will be racing in the Hansa 303 individual event. For ex-army man Spencer, sailing has given him a way to spend quality time with his children following a Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis. Spencer said: “Sailing to me means freedom. When my mobility started to disappear the biggest issue in terms of sailing was getting on and off the boat. When I started Invictus I realised there are possibilities to use a hoist and then I was introduced to RYA Sailability and they've been amazing.
Speaking after the training session on Friday, he added: “We’ve just had the most amazing afternoon out sailing here in Sydney Harbour, the breeze was lovely and the sun is fantastic. We couldn’t be here if it wasn’t for RYA Sailability, we are all extremely grateful and looking forward to seeing what happens on Sunday when it’s competition time. Game on!”
No matter what your age, background or disability, sailing is for everyone and it really can change lives.
Sailing, will be making its Invictus Games debut as one of 11 sports featured in Sydney. Individual (single person crew) and team (mixed gender crew) events will take place with the Hansa 303 Dinghy being used for the individual class and the Elliot 7 keel boat used for the team class.
To select and train sailors for the Invictus Games, RYA Sailability have been working with the partnership delivering Team UK including Help for Heroes, the Ministry of Defence and The Royal British Legion.
Racing takes place on Sunday 21 October. To follow the action at the games visit the event website at www.invictusgames2018.org. To find out how you can get involved in disabled sailing throughout the UK visit www.rya.org.uk/go/sailability