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British Sailing Team set at the Para Sailing World Championships

by Loretta Spridgeon 18 Sep 2018 09:30 BST 16-22 September 2018
Jonny Currell and Will Street - Para Sailing World Championships 2018 © RYA

Six sailors will be flying the Great Britain flag when racing at the Para Sailing World Championships gets underway at Sail Sheboygan, USA on Tuesday (18 September).

Paralympians Hannah Stodel and Alexandra Rickham lead the British contingent as they team up in the RS Venture class – their first competitive Para classes outing since Rio 2016.

At 16, Scotsman Rory McKinna is the youngest Brit, competing in the Hansa 303, Carol Dugdale goes in 2.4mR one design class and Jonny Currell and Will Street will take to the start line alongside Stodel and Rickham in the RS Venture fleet.

Four-time Paralympian Stodel, who since Rio has been focusing on her aim to be the first disabled sailor ever to take on the Vendée Globe non-stop solo round the world yacht race in 2020, admits she's looking forward to returning to smaller boat action.

The 32-year-old West Mersea sailor said: "It's a bit of a bizarre scenario as although Alex and I were on the Paralympic team together for many years we hadn't actually ever sailed together so this is a new experience for both of us.

"Our hopes for the event are to do quite well. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to medal but we haven't had much time to train and the boat is new to us so we will have to see how it goes. It's going to be interesting jumping in at the deep end but we're really looking forward to the challenge."

Meanwhile, Clyde Cruising Club's McKinna makes his Para Worlds debut having only been sailing for four years. The 2017 UK National Hansa 303 (single) champion, RYA Sailability Multiclass class winner and TeamGB European Para Youth Games silver medalist, McKinna is now looking forward to what he calls his biggest ever event.

He said: "I took to sailing straight away and by being involved I get an enjoyable sport, something positive to put on a CV and a fun experience. I'm looking forward to meeting lots of new people at the Worlds, and I wouldn't mind winning, that would be good I suppose! Representing my country will be a great experience."

Sailing is not included in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and last week the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced the sport would not be reinstated for Paris 2024, a move met with great surprise and disappointment amongst the global sailing community.

As RYA CEO, Sarah Treseder commented: "We will guarantee the excellent work of RYA Sailability continues to ensure that disabled sailing is supported from grassroots to top-level racing. A record number of sailors and countries are taking part in the Para Sailing World Championships and we wish everyone a very successful regatta."

The British sailors are also fully focused on the task at hand in Sheboygan.

Eastbourne's Street, who, along with Dugdale, competed in the 2.4mR at last year's Para Sailing Worlds in Kiel, met 22-year-old Poole man, Currell, when they were 2.4mR rivals. Now teammates, the pair are excited about tackling their first event.

Street, 26, said: "When we heard the RS Venture was being included at the Worlds I messaged Jonny and said 'let's try this out!' I'm so excited about competing and I can't wait to get out to America and do everyone proud."

Currell added: "Will's a good helm, he's knowledgeable in his tactics, we get on well in the boat, are improving our communications and starting to feel really fast. There's a really strong fleet going so anybody we beat we will be really happy with."

Racing takes place over five days, with the medals being awarded on Saturday 22 September. The top 10 2.4mRs after the opening series will contest a medal race, while the RS Venture and Hansa 303 events consist of qualifying and finals series.

To follow the action from Sheboygan visit the event website at www.paraworldsailing2018.com or follow @worldsailing. To find out how you can get involved in disabled sailing throughout the UK visit www.rya.org.uk/go/sailability

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