Beijing Paralympics get underway in Qingdao with all three British boats hoping for a podium finish

80 sailors, from 25 nations, competing across three Paralympic classes, have converged on the Olympic Sailing Centre in Qingdao for the six-day competition. All three British boats are hoping for a podium finish.

With almost a two-hour delay for the SKUD-18 and 2.4mR fleets due to a lack of wind, it was the 14 boats of the Sonar three-person keelboat class, featuring Brits John Robertson, Stephen Thomas and Hannah Stodel, that got away first.

The British Sonar crew, gold medallists at the Paralympic Test Event in May, opened their 2008 Paralympics campaign with a disappointing ninth place in race one.
However, they showed great resilience in race two when having had to go back over the startline (after breaking the line early) and subsequently reaching the first mark 30 seconds behind the rest of the fleet, the trio battled their way back through the fleet to score a nail-biting third place.

The Brits, who finished sixth at Athens 2004, ended the opening day in sixth with 12 points, as France’s Bruno Jourdren, Herve Larhant and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary head the pack on five points.

Having been reserve for the Sonar crew in Athens four years ago, Helena Lucas was competing in the 2.4mR one-person keelboat. The 2006 IFDS Worlds silver medallist scored a tenth in her opening race, but like the Sonar crew, enjoyed better fortunes in race two, holding on to fifth position from start to finish to end the day on 15 points in seventh place overall. Canadian Paul Tingley, winner of Sonar bronze at Sydney 2000, is the early 2.4mR leader courtesy of his two opening race bullets.

The Paralympics is scheduled to consist of an eleven race series for each of the three classes. Three races are scheduled for all classes tomorrow with racing due to start at 1300 local time (0600 British time).

For more information click here .