Tuesday, 15 March 2011
by Di Pearson
The Access Class 2012 Combined World and International Championships will be hosted by Australia’s Middle Harbour Yacht Club from April 7-13 next year and the event is expected to attract over 120 disabled sailors from 12 countries.
These Championships will provide a great opportunity for disabled athletes to demonstrate their sailing ability in an international arena. Each athlete has overcome physical difficulties to compete in this open world class championship.
The open class is open to competitors of all levels of ability, providing one of the few sporting arenas where disabled athletes compete “ON EQUAL TERMS” with able bodied athletes.
Approximately 80% of the competitors will be disabled. Many are wheelchair bound on land. In competing they will experience a sense of freedom and adventure generally not considered possible. A wide range of boats – Access 2.3, the 303, Liberty and SKUD 18 – will sail in the competition.
The venue selected, Middle Harbour Yacht Club, is located at the Spit Mosman, just 7 kilometres north of Sydney's CBD.
The Club was established in 1939 and boasts an outstanding track record of hosting numerous high-profile sailing events, including the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta which brings together over 300 boats each March and the Short Ocean Racing Championship – which is the lead up event to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
With a membership of 1600 and the largest active sailing membership in Sydney, MHYC is one of Australia's most respected yacht clubs, with numerous Olympians and National champions amongst its members.
Recognised as a national leader in sail training and aquatic education programs, the Club premises is also the home of the Australian Sailing Team. Its facilities include a 75-berth, fully-serviced, floating marina; 700m2 rigging area; bar and dining facilities and a tranquil, shore-side beach which makes MHYC unique.
The Club’s highly-qualified race management team, who managed key course areas for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, will manage the event.
MHYC Commodore Julie Hodder commented: “We are delighted MHYC has been chosen to stage the prestigious Access Class 2012 Combined World and International Championships. We have the facilities and team to make it the ‘Best Access Regatta Ever’.
“It’s important disabled athletes have the opportunity to compete internationally. We propose to build on the excellent work undertaken by the Club’s Sailability program for disabled sailors which is held every second Sunday at the Club,” she said.
Over the past 15 years, the Class has gained a strong following in Australia with very active support being provided by the Sailability organisation working in close alliance with established sailing clubs. MHYC has joined with the local branch of Rotary to provide a strong team of volunteers and the resources necessary to support the program.
International Access Class Association President, Terry Peek said, “The IACA is delighted that Middle Harbour Yacht Club will be hosting the 2012 Worlds. The venue is outstanding and overseas visitors will really enjoy the club facilities, the beautiful Middle Harbour waterway, the local area and all that Sydney has to offer.
“The Club has an excellent reputation for conducting high standard events and is approaching our 2012 Worlds with enthusiasm and professionalism. It will be well supported by the Class Association and Sailability in Australia.
“We encourage Access sailors from around the world to start planning their trip to Sydney in April 2012 – it will be an event not to be missed,” Peek added.
About the Boats
The Access classes are universal design sailing boats sailed by people of all abilities around the world. There are now more than 1800 boats sailing world-wide. The Access 2.3 is an International Sailing Federation (ISAF) International Class keelboat.
The 303 and Liberty are ISAF Recognised Classes. Access 2.3 and 303 fleets throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific, Europe and North America continue to grow, with the majority of boats being used in Sailability programs.
The SKUD 18, at 5.8 metres, is the largest of the Access classes and is the two person boat selected for the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competitions.
With its asymmetric gennaker and high tech rig, the boat is an exciting challenge for able-bodied and disabled sailors alike. The SKUD has been designed to offer exciting high performance sailing for racing sailors regardless of their mobility
The Combined World and International Championships will incorporate the following divisions, each sailing 10 heats over 5 days of racing:
· Access 2.3 Single Person Open World Championship
· Access 2.3 Single Person Servo International Championship
· Access 303 Single Person Open World Championship
· Access 303 Two Person Open World Championship
· Access Liberty Single Person Open World Championship
· Access Liberty Single Person Servo International Championship
· SKUD 18 Two Person International Championship
For more information about the event visit www.2012accessworlds.mhyc.com.au