With only 12 days to go until the start of the Cork County Council IFDS (International Association for Disabled Sailing) World Championships, Kinsale is buzzing with excitement as teams from 18 nations arrive to practice in the venue for the three Paralympic classes Sonar, Skud 18 and 2.4mR classes. This is the first Paralympic event since the London 2012 Games and is one of only three World Championships leading up to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This is the first time that the IFDS World Championships will be hosted in Ireland. Kinsale bid for the event in 2010 fighting off stiff competition from Perth in Australia and Qingdao in China. The organising committee, under the direction of Regatta Director John Stallard, have been working on plans since they were awarded the event in 2010.
75 boats with 120 competitors, 50 coaches and over 300 hundred family and friends are expected to gather in Kinsale for the event which will run from 25 August until 30 August. The opening ceremony will be held in the James O’Neill building in Kinsale at 6pm on Sunday 25 August before parading to Kinsale Yacht Club to present their nation’s flags. Racing will commence on Monday 26 August with two races scheduled daily.
Irish eyes will be watching the Sonar class where 10-time Paralympian and member of the ‘Providence Team IRL for Rio 2016’ John Twomey, who is also current President of the International Association of Disabled Sailing, will be keen to perform well in his home waters. As well as tough competition from the Gold (Netherlands), Silver (Germany) and Bronze (Norway) medallists from London 2012, there are some new entrants to watch out for in the Sonar class. The New Zealand team include two sailors that have won many world titles before both being diagnosed with MS. David Barnes who has competed in six America’s Cup campaigns, including as skipper of the 1988 ‘Big Boat’ challenge in San Diego, has won three 470 class world titles and competed in a wide range of international keelboat events. His crewmate Richard Dodson has won the America’s Cup twice, the One Ton Cup twice, the OK world championships twice and the Admiral’s Cup once, amongst a host of other achievements. A TV crew from New Zealand is travelling to Kinsale to film a documentary on their participation in the event.
John Twomey and his crew of Ian Costello and Anthony Hegarty will also face local competition as Ireland yields two further entries in the Sonar class. Paul McCarthy, Brian O’Mahoney and Paul Ryan will make up the second boat while a third entry will consist of Tralee’s Jacqui Browne, Amy Kelehan and Austin O’Carroll.
In the 2.4mR class Helena Lucas (UK) who was the Gold medal at London 2012 will be the one to watch while in the two-handed Skud 18 focus will also be on Team GBR and the London 2012 bronze medallists Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickham.
The IFDS Worlds 2013 is proudly sponsored by Cork County Council, Irish Sports Council, The Gathering, Lilly, Irish Sailing Association and Kinsale Yacht Club.
For more information see www.ifdsworlds2013.com