Sunday, 10 July 2011

Australian Paralympic sailors Fitzgibbon and Tesch win Bronze medal at IFDS World Championships

Liesl Tesch and Daniel Fitzgibbon with their Bronze medals in Weymouth. Image copyright Paul Wyeth.

by Craig Heydon

Australian sailors Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have won Bronze in the Skud 18 class at the 2011 IFDS World Championship in Weymouth, England.

The win capped off a successful week for Australia with sailors qualifying the country for the London 2012 Paralympic Games in all three classes.

Heavy winds made racing impossible on the final day in Weymouth with Fitzgibbon and Tesch finishing third behind Great Britain’s Alexandra Rickham and Nikki Birrell and America’s Jennifer French and Jean-Paul Creignou.

“Today was a quiet day with no sailing as it was too breezy,” said Fitzgibbon. “We were a bit disappointed that we didn’t have a chance to come back from our tough day yesterday but overall are happy to come away with a medal.

“Leading into London 2012 we’ve learnt that we just have to go yacht racing and get better and come back harder and stronger and win the Gold,” he said.

The Bronze medal for Fitzgibbon and Tesch continued their strong start to their sailing career together, having now won two out of the three major international regattas they have competed in as a team since teaming up in January this year.

Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason finished sixth after a mixed regatta, ending the week one place ahead of fellow Australians Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox.

Australia’s three Skud 18 crews all finished in the top 10 in the highly competitive fleet, pointing towards a strong future for the class in Australia.

Matt Bugg’s 15th place finish in the 2.4mR class has qualified Australia for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, to be held in the same venue.

“Obviously I’m thrilled to have qualified Australia for the Games,” said Bugg. “Just not overly happy with the way that we did it!

“The last few days of the regatta for me have been all about being safe and achieving the goal of qualifying the country,” he said. “Looking ahead to London 2012 I’ve got lots of training and sailing ahead of me for the next 12 months.

“You need to be a very good sailor to do well here as it is a hard place to read, and local knowledge is a real advantage,” he said.

West Australians Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Rod Angwin finished 12th in the Sonar fleet, and doing so grabbed a spot for Australia for the main event in just over a year’s time.

“We’re really happy that we came here and did what we set out to do, qualify the country for London 2012,” said Boaden. “We’ve now got a big challenge ahead of us for the next 12 months, the main one being getting our skills up to the right level to compete here against the best.”

IFDS Worlds 2011