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Meet determined sailors competing at Special Olympics World Games

by Becky Gilbert-Wood 28 Feb 14:31 GMT 14-21 March 2019
Laura Carrick and Shannon McGhee - Multisport Regatta 2017 © Marc Turner

Six Scots sailors will be flying to Abu Dhabi next week ahead of the Special Olympics World Games (14 - 21 March) - a celebration of inclusivity and empowerment for those with intellectual disabilities.

Sailing first featured at the Special Olympics World Games (SOWG) in 1995. A sport of skill and speed, with 15 countries taking part, 40-50 sailors are expected to compete on the water.

The Special Olympics GB Sailing Team (SOGB) is comprised of three teams of two. The sailors; Jamie Cairns, Shannon McGhee and Lewis Nicholson will all be sailing with a Unified Partner; Mike Kelly, Laura Carrick and Darren MacGregor. The team is led by Competition and Coaching Advisor and RYA Sailability Regional Organiser (Scotland), David Hill.

David has been working with the team for the past year, getting ready for the Games and commented: "It's obviously very exciting to be asked to be part of a national team and part of the Special Olympics GB World Games effort. It's a brilliant opportunity to meet a fantastic range of people, introduce new people to the sport and have fun doing it!

"The sailing is going to be different, as it's been very cold here and we're expecting it to be very hot at the venue! It's on the sea and the winds are meant to be quite consistently from the north, building through the day.

"Our group is really excited, a little apprehensive but we had a lot of practice last summer and they'll be keen to get in the boats once they arrive in Abu Dhabi. I want them to perform to the best of their ability and go for a win every time they get on the water - as long as that happens anything else is a bonus."

Charity, able2sail has supported Special Olympics Great Britain by fundraising to cover the cost of sending the sailing team to Abu Dhabi. Youth Forum Co-Ordinator, Laura Carrick played a big role in the fundraising effort, recently completing a 5-day, sponsored endurance cycle and sail from Glasgow to the north tip of the Outer Hebrides.

Laura will be partnering one of the young sailors at the Games and explains just how important sailing can be: "able2sail works to make sure that young people with a wide range of additional needs are supported to participate in both the sport and social aspect of sailing.

"I have seen many young people, often from socially isolated lives and with few prospects become confident, qualified and competitive sailors.

"Training is going well, we now have suitable boats as we have acquired four new RS Quest dinghies through a partnership with Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park Castle Semple Centre. It's great because the boats are really similar to the Laser Bahias we will be sailing at the Games."

The excitement is building for the whole team ahead of the upcoming Games with sailor Jamie Cairns (21) commenting: "To go out there and represent Great Britain is a big challenge for us all. I get a lot of support from our friends, family and Laura (Carrick), who runs me around and you could not ask for a better team!"

Jamie's Unified Partner, Darren MacGregor added: "It's all about the team spirit, we're all learning together and our goal is very much to win in Abu Dhabi."

The biannual Special Olympics World Games will be hosted this year in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 14 - 21 March 2019. Featuring seven days of competition in 24 sports, the Games will see more than 7,500 athletes from 192 different nations taking part in the inclusive event.

Michelle Carney, CEO Special Olympics GB said, "We can't wait to see the sailors compete on a world stage in the warm waters of Abu Dhabi. We wish them all the very best. Huge thanks to able2sail for all their support as well."

Visit abudhabi2019.org for more information about the Special Olympics World Games. Follow the progress of the SOGB Team on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @SOGBSailingTeam.

To find out more about sailing opportunities for disabled people or those that need specific support to get on-the-water visit rya.org.uk/sailability.

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