The Special Olympic Sailing Team is led by David Hill, the Senior Instructor of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park and RYA Sailability Regional Organiser (Scotland) and now Competition and Coaching advisor for the Special Olympics GB Sailing team (SOGB). Having been training for the past year on and off the water we asked how the team is getting on.
“The team have doing a lot of preparation on and off the water, recently joining the rest of Team GB to train all together in Sheffield. We hed some fun workshops of what to expect at the games and receive some fantastic team kit which the sailors have been very proud of.”
“The Scots make a significant proportion of the overall team so from leaving Scotland there will be a great atmosphere as we travel. The hosts have provided us with a great impression of what to expect and we have in turn gave them a flavour of what we do across the different sports.”
“The sailing is going to be different as it has been very cold here at the moment and pretty hot at the venue, off Yas Island, which sits between the Grand Mosque and the F1 Circuit. It’s on the sea and the winds are meant to be quite consistently from the north, building through the day.”
“There are 15 countries with around 40-50 sailors competing on the water within sailing. There could be as many as 4 divisions ahead of the main racing days giving plenty of opportunities to medal for the athletes. Our group is very excited but equally apprehensive as they are keen to spend time on the water, but it’s a tad chilly just now. We have had plenty of time over last summer and they’ll be very keen to get in the boats once they arrive in Abu Dhabi.”
We also caught up with some of the members of the Special Olympics sailing team who have now been issued their team kit and are very excited about the approaching event.
Darren MacGregor (19) is one of the unified athletes with SOGB, sailing with Jamie Cairns. Darren tells us a little more about the team.
“We have three boats with two people of each. The sailors are Jamie Cairns, Shannon McGhee and Lewis Nicolson, sailing with them are the unified athletes who are partnered in the boats, they are Mike Kelly, Laura Carrick and myself. We’re quite competitive as a team.”
“It’s all about the team spirit, so we’re all learning together and there is the competition. Our goal is very much to win in Abu Dhabi. We are sailing the RS Quests just now which is very similar to the Laser Bahia’s we will be sailing in for the games. I have been fortunate to sail everything from a Laser dinghy at Castle Semple to a cruising yacht as part of Able2Sail.”
Jamie Cairns commented on his involvement with Team and the preparations up until now.
“To go out there and represent Great Britain is a big challenge for us all, especially like for the families who are supporting us to fund raise and go training, it is different from what we are used to.”
“I get a lot of support from our friends, family and Laura, who runs me around and you could not ask for a better team.”
The Special Olympic Sailing Team leave on the 8th of March and will be racing as part of the World Games from the 16th-20th of March. You can follow their progress on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @SOGBSailingTeam