Although not achieving the medal positions they set out for, both of Great Britain's Paralympic Sailing Team representatives - Mike Browne in the 2.4mR class and Andy Cassell, Andrew Millband and Brian Harding in the Sonar discipline have laid down the foundations for a development programme in Paralympic sailing in Great Britain.
Although not achieving the medal positions they set out for, both of Great Britain’s Paralympic Sailing Team representatives – Mike Browne in the 2.4mR class and Andy Cassell, Andrew Millband and Brian Harding in the Sonar discipline – kept pushing to the very last race in Sydney Harbour today and have laid down the foundations for a development programme in Paralympic sailing in Great Britain.
One unfortunate penultimate day for both Browne and Cassell dropped them out of the medal chase on the last day although the conditions for the grande finale were picture perfect with a glistening blue Sydney Harbour day made complete with a 10 – 12 knot seabreeze.
On the 2.4mR course, where the Gold medal was settled with a race to spare by Heiko Kroeger (Germany) who sailed a remarkable series, sixth place came down to a straight battle between Browne and the New Zealand representative.
Not realising he was over the start line early (OCS), Browne settled down to a solid race while the Kiwi opted for a complete right hand flyer and led the fleet around the windward mark making him uncatchable, although Mike’s OCS had already slipped him back to seventh position overall.
Despite not achieving his personal goal, Mike acknowledged the regatta has been “the most fantastic experience.”
“It has been well worth coming and although I didn’t achieve my personal goal of sixth or better, I feel privileged to be here,” added Mike.
Meanwhile, Andy Cassell and his crew went out all guns blazing by leading at the first windward mark but the eventual Gold (Australia) and Bronze (Canada) medallists soon slipped past with better boatspeed although, momentarily, Cassell and crew were up to fourth overall, their highest possible placing.
A late charge by the Swedish crew relegated Cassell to fifth overall but the British trio were pleased with their outgoing performance. “Today was the first day that the windshifts were more like normal. We thrived on that and were right up there fighting at the front which was a good ending,” commented Sonar middleman Andrew Millband.
“It was a tough regatta, neither of our crews reached the full performance potential that they have shown over the last twelve months. The Olympic success last month was developed over 12 years while this is the first official Paralympic sailing regatta so this event is essentially the first step on the way to future Paralympic sailing success. The RYA’s aim now is to put the wheels in motion and see if we can go one step higher in Athens,” commented Cathy Foster, Great Britain Paralympic Sailing Team Manager.
Overall Results (after 7 days):
Sonar (after 9 races with 1 discard):
GOLD, Noel Robins and Jamie Dunross and Martin Graeme (Australia) 3,1,3,3,2,(11), 4,1,1 – 14pts
SILVER, Jens Kroker and Peter Muenter and Peter Reichl (Germany) 1,2,5,4,1,6,(9),2,5 – 20pts
BRONZE, David Williams and Paul Tingley and Brian MacDonald (Canada) 2,6,2,(8),3,1,6,6,2 – 22pts
5, Andy Cassell and Andrew Millband and Brian Harding – 7,5,8,5,5,4,10,(11),5 – 37pts
2.4mR (after 9 races with 2 discards):
GOLD, Heiko Kroeger (Germany) 2,1,1,3,1,(4),1,1,(4) – 10pts
SILVER, Jens Als Andersen (Denmark) 1,2,4,(5),3,1,2,(5) – 15pts
BRONZE, Thomas Taylor Brown (USA) 4,4,2,2,5,(6),(9),6,1 – 24pts
7. Mike Browne – 5,8,9,(12),4,2,8,10,(OCS/18) – 45pts