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European Adapted Sailing Championship at Portimão, Portugal

by MoD World Media 21 Oct 2019 14:04 BST 5-12 October 2019
Hansa Europeans at Portimão, Portugal © Rodrigo Moreira Rato / LX Sailing

Five days of competition where 113 athletes from 10 countries competed for the title of European Champion in four classes - Hansa 2.3, Hansa 303 Singles and Doubles, and Liberty at the 2019 European Adapted Sailing Championship in Portimão.

A week of intense competition that put athletes to the test with less favorable conditions in the early days, with little wind and lots of sun, and ended with strong wind, some rain and fog on the last day of the racing.

Hui Naval Club athlete Rui Dowling was crowned European Champion in class 2.3 - a class of smaller vessels - followed by André Bento (National School of Adapted Sailing), who took the silver medal in the same class. Third, the Dutchman Akko Van Der Deen took the bronze.

In 303 Singles, João Pinto - athlete of the Naval Club of Portimão - took home the Bronze in the first international race after 4 years out of sailing. Gold and silver went to Piotr Cichocki (POL) and Chris Symonds (AUS), respectively.

Polish duo Piotr Cichocki and Olga Gruzdien took the title of European champions in 303 doubles, followed by Natalia Hillman-Bermejo and Allan Hillman (GBR) and French duo Gilles Guyon and Olivier Ducruix. A class that has been up for grabs until the last minute.

In the first competition of its kind for the servo-assisted Liberty Class, the podium was invaded by the Dutch, Vera Voorbach, Wilma Van Der Broek and Hanneke Deenen taking all three steps.

The awards ceremony was attended by Bob Sharingher, President of the Hansa International Class who sailed in the Liberty class during the week.

"It was a very good week, with excellent sailing conditions and an enviable organization. Few championships can match a good sea environment and a rich and lively social programme."

"I think the most important thing about this event is the ability to sail regardless of one's physical condition," said Maria Nobre de Carvalho, part of the organization. "We have here athletes with all kinds of disabilities - paraplegics, quadraplegics, amputees, among others - and all sail together in the same classes. It is a truly inclusive sport and that is what we want to bring to earth as well."

Between regattas, concerts, gin tastings, wine tasting, dinners and sea food, the Portimão Marina was the stage of 5 days of conviviality.

Allan Hillman, an English athlete who has been a quadriplegic for over 20 years, said "It was one of the best championships I have had the pleasure of participating in and I have plans to return to Portugal soon."

Associação Teia D'Impulsos and Marina de Portimão Yacht Club have said they will try to bring the 2021 Adapted Sailing World Cup to Portugal. A challenge that seems to have been well accepted by the president of the international class.

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