Wind gusting up to 33 knots has delayed the start of the IFDS world championship was due to commence yesterday

The IFDS world championship was due to commence yesterday, but had to be delayed due to storm force winds gusting up to 33 knots. Racing was postponed until 3 pm, but when the time approached, the wind had shown no signs of decreasing, so the race organisers made the wise decision to abandon racing for the day.

Held at the International Sailing Centre and hosted by the Royal Netherlands Yacht Club, the event opened with an extravagant ceremony, which took place overlooking the water. Led by the local Medemblik band, the parade consisted of three sailors from each nation who had paraded from the famous castle to the International Sailing Centre. Holding the flag for the British team was 15-year-old Megan Pascoe who will be sailing a 2.4mR for the world championship.

This 2002 IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championship fields the largest number of entries and countries seen to date at a worlds, with 23 Sonars entered and 41 2.4mR. The series consists of nine races for both of the classes, which concludes on Friday 27 September.

The event has even more importance for the competitors, as it is their first chance to qualify their nation for the 2004 Paralympic Games. In total, the top seven nations in both of the classes will automatically qualifying for the 2004 Games.

The worlds follows on from the Dutch open which took place from 17-22 September which welcomed both Olympic and Paralympic classes. For the British sailors the Dutch open served as a warm-up event and was a chance to look at the competition and get their boats set up. Megan Pascoe put in a top performance in the 2.4mR class, scoring her best result as a third place and finishing in eighth place overall and first of the six British sailors.

It was also a good warm-up event for RYA team GBR performance squad sailor Andrew Millband. Although he finished in 13th place, he showed good form and won race three of the event. Two OCS (on course side) calls, in a one discard series, meant that he would have to count one of them in his overall score, resulting in a 13th place overall.

The three British teams entered in the Sonar fleet also used the Dutch Open as a warm up event. RYA team GBR development squad sailor John Robertson, sailing with Hannah Stodel and Mike Hawker, finished in ninth place at the event, scoring a couple of encouraging results in the top five.

The established team of 1996 British Paralympic Gold medallist and team GBR sailor Andy Cassell, sailing with Brian Harding and Ed Suckling, only sailed one race of the Dutch open, but looked to be on good form, finishing in second place in that race.