Sunderland’s John Robertson, with his fellow defending champions, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas, got their world title defence off to the perfect start at the Para World Sailing Championships in the Netherlands.
The British Sailing Team Sonar trio mastered breezy conditions on the Ijsselmeer at Medemblik to take an early overall lead at the five day regatta, with Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell also grabbing hold of the yellow jerseys at the first opportunity in the two-person SKUD fleet.
A strong northerly 15-22 knot breeze brought with it some cold conditions to challenge the three Paralympic classes, but Robertson, Stodel and Thomas enjoyed the physical Sonar racing, crossing the finish line first in both races, and with a substantial 49 second lead in the second.
“It was breezy and shifty with big ranges in breeze as well so you had to use a lot of technique, a lot of trimming, and comms were up right around the race track for the whole day,” said Thomas.
“It was really good, and those are the kind of conditions we favour the most.”
“The fleet is super competitive, but the usual top suspects were up there today – us, the Australians, the Norwegians, the French.
“We were all battling it out from the start,” the Welshman added.
“Obviously it would be nice to come away with a win but predominantly it’s about looking at form for the Games. That’s where we want to be peaking,” he continued, as the team builds towards what they hope will be their first Paralympic medal this September.
“We want to be ticking off some of the racecraft we’ve been doing at the last couple of events, and some of the kit selections as well.”