One of the youngest members of the British Team to head across to Sheboygan in the USA was Rory McKinna of the Clyde Cruising Club, who attended his first World Championship since starting competitive sailing three years ago.
Teams from 39 countries took part in the Parasailing World Championships and were not deterred by the recent announcement from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that sailing will not feature in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
The Para-Sailing Worlds was very much focussed on the competition and with nations getting behind their sailors. The RYA continues to ensure that disabled sailing is supported from grassroots to top-level racing. Indeed the British duo of Will Street and Jonny Currell became victorious in bringing home the Gold medal in the RS Venture Connect Final after five days of tight competition.
Within the Hansa 303 class, Rory McKinna has been travelling to events for the past year and this was a significant step on his journey. Rory’s links through the Hansa 303 class have strengthened with one school in Hong Kong even wishing to use Rory as example of the possibilities enabled through the Sailability programme and his subsequent competitions.
The 38 competitors were split into groups for a round robin series interchanging in the supplied fleet of Hansa Class Dinghies and after two days of racing Rory was lying 10th overall after some very tight racing. There was then a spilt in the fleet with Rory making it through to the Gold fleet, an excellent result. Two races were held in the light airs and sizable swell on Lake Michigan. In the first race Rory posted a seventh only for the wind to fade causing a delay of around an hour where the boats bobbed around unfortunately leading to some nauseating conditions. This unfortunately affected Rory having never sailed on a swell and affected his score in the second race. All to play for going into the second day but alas too much wind caused the racing to be curtailed in the Hansa Fleet leaving Rory 14th overall.
“The experience was great, like being in the movies as America was American!” Enthuses Rory who continues to be inspired by the sport and the hospitality received by the host club and the rest of the teams.
“The Sailing was good and it was a lovely club that was very well organised thanks to an excellent Race committee and I even met with the Protest Committee in my first ever protest, which I won!”
“It was very close racing with several occasions that a whole bunch of boats crossed the line together, it was exciting stuff. I met with some great sailors from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia and Samoa, people had really travelled a long way to compete and the atmosphere was very special.”
So undeterred by the decision of IPC, aside from perhaps helping the decisions on which university to attend, Rory has some great plans for 2019. “I’m looking forward to going to Spain next year for the Parasailing World Championships and also hoping to head out to Austria for the Para Europeans, hopefully Finland for the Para Youth Games and Portugal for the Hansa Europeans.”
We wish Rory every success for the coming season and continue to be inspired by passion for the sport and his desire to improve. To find out how you can get involved in disabled sailing throughout the UK visit www.rya.org.uk/go/sailability.