Robertson gears up for solo test

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THREE-TIME Paralympian John Robertson is excited by a new solo sailing challenge.

The 41-year-old Wearsider is best known for teaming up with Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas in a double world championship-winning Sonar team.

But Robertson, paralysed from the chest down following a motorbike accident in 1994, has signed up for a solo place in the International 2.4 Metre Open World Championships at Poole in September.

In the unique event, disabled sailors compete against able-bodied rivals in the same boats.

He said: “Although I still live in Sunderland, I’m based much of the time at Weymouth and Portland.

“With this event being just down the road from Weymouth, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some more quality racing time under my belt this year.

“I’ve done a little bit of 2.4mR sailing before. With their type of disabilities it’s maybe a bit easier for Hannah and Steve to sail and race any type of boat really, but for me it is not so easy.

“The 2.4mR is a boat I can sail and that you are guaranteed to get some good racing in. It will feel a bit strange sailing on my own I’m sure but I’m looking forward to the event.”

Meanwhile, the first phase of preparations for the Rio Paralympics in 2016 for Robertson’s Sonar team begins this year, with five of the new Eurosaf Champions Sailing Cup events in their sights as well as the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships in Ireland in August.

Robertson, Stodel and Thomas won the IFDS crown in 2005 and 2006, while also winning two silver medals and two bronzes.