British aiming for more history at 2007 IFDS World Championships 6/9/07

The double World Championship-winning Sonar crew of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Stephen Thomas will be looking to complete an unprecedented golden hat-trick as the 2007 IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championships get underway in Rochester, USA on Friday, 7 September.

Sunderland-based Robertson became the first skipper in the history of disabled Sonar sailing to helm his crew to back-to-back IFDS World titles when the trio triumphed at last year’s championships in Perth, Australia, adding to the gold they won in Denmark in 2005.

Now with the Beijing Paralympics only 12 months away, and the Championships forming part of the British selection process for those Games, Robertson, Stodel and Thomas will be desperate to lay down the gauntlet to their main challengers for China by making it three-in-a-row in the States.

By the time racing starts on Monday, 10 September, the team will have more than two weeks of venue training under their belts on Lake Ontario. Robertson believes the preparation will stand them in good stead.

He said: “Training has gone really well and we have been trying to enjoy ourselves a little bit. Being the defending champions we were a little bit stressed to start with but we feel if we just do what we do naturally we will be okay.

“The conditions have been varied; we have experienced some Champagne sailing in perfect 12-14 knots of wind to light, shifting winds that we have had to really work in. You can never be complacent but we have prepared well and are really looking forward to getting started now.”

Great Britain will have 18 competitors battling it out for medals in the three Paralympic classes at Rochester.

Southampton’s Helena Lucas will hope to go one better than the silver she won Down Under in the single-handed 2.4mR class although Skandia Team GBR squadmate Megan Pascoe, 20, also has her sights on the rostrum having taken silver at the 2007 Rolex Miami Olympic Class Regatta (OCR) in January .

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the all-new two-person SKUD-18s which are making their debut at the IFDS World Championships ahead of next year’s Paralympics. With the stipulation of having at least one female on board, Allan Smith and Jackie Gay head the British contingent in the class.

Some 170 sailors from 30 countries are expected to descend on Rochester Yacht Club, New York for the Championships, which run until Saturday, 15 September.

Great Britain Entry List

  • Sonar – Three-person keelboat
  • John Robertson/Hannah Stodel/Stephen Thomas
  • Andrew Milliband/Brian Harding/Keith Jamieson

    2.4mR – Singlehanded keelboat

  • Helena Lucas
  • Tony Prior
  • Megan Pascoe
  • Michael Cogswell

    SKUD-18 – Two-person keelboat/Skiff

  • Allan Smith/Jackie Gay
  • Simon Harle/Valerie Millward
  • David Durston/Rachel Morris
  • Judith Figgures/Lucy Hodges