FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2015
Portsmouth, R.I. – US adaptive athletes completed racing at the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships in Melbourne, Australia on December 3, an event with important implications for the 2016 US Paralympic Sailing Team. In addition to being Paralympic sailing’s premier event for 2015, the regatta also served as part of US Sailing’s Rio 2016 selection system for the Sonar and SKUD-18, two of the three classes sailed at the Paralympic Games. American athletes showed competitive speed in all three Paralympic classes in Melbourne, and will continue to focus on improving in the lead up to the 2016 Games.
“The Para World Sailing Championship in Melbourne was one of the most competitive fields of athletes in Paralympic sailing history,” said Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.), US Sailing Team Sperry Coach and Chair of the Para World Sailing Committee, the leadership body of the sport. “The performance of the US sailors at this worlds was good, but there is room to improve. Our coaching staff has identified several key areas for improvement that will have a significant impact on results in upcoming events in the new year. We are very close to being able to stand tall on the podium on a consistent basis.”
Pictured: Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Maureen McKinnon (Marblehead, Mass.) Para World Sailing Championships 2015, Royal Yacht Club of Victoria, Williamstown (Aus). 29/11/2015. Photo: Teri Dodds/ISAF.
In the two-person SKUD-18 class, Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Beijing 2008 SKUD-18 gold medalist Maureen McKinnon (Marblehead, Mass.) were the top US boat in 8th overall, and have taken a slim lead over Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Cindy Walker (Middletown, R.I.) in the Rio 2016 selection process. The second and final selection event in the SKUD-18 will be the next year’s Para Sailing World Championships in Medemblik, Holland (May 24-28, 2016).
“We had a very eventful regatta,” said McKinnon. “Our final result reflects a loss of places in the scores due to a series of events.” Porteous and McKinnon often battled in the top five, but were hampered by mast and halyard breakages, and a protest. “Ryan and I are ready for anything now,” continued McKinnon. “We endured it all and kept our senses of humor throughout the ups and downs. [Former skipper and gold medalist] Nick Scandone and I had similar challenges at the 2007 Worlds.” McKinnon noted that they owed a debt of gratitude to the Australian team, who lent the American pair a new mast after a breakdown in high winds. “It feels really good to have had offers of help from the international competition.”
In the Sonar class, the team of Beijing 2008 Paralympian and Disabled Sailing World Champion Ricky Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Brad Kendell (Tampa, Fla.) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Maine) sailed a consistent event, and finished 6th overall in the 18-boat fleet while also qualifying the US as a country for Rio 2016 in the Sonar. Doerr, Kendell and Freund threatened the podium throughout the regatta, but could not get there in the end. “In the Sonar class, the point spread between the top teams was small, with only five points separating 3rd place to 6th,” noted Alison. For the veteran team, the event can be considered a success. “We’re extremely pleased with how we sailed,” said Freund. “Even in our worst race we managed to keep our heads and sail our own race. More importantly we know the areas where we’re leaving boat lengths on the racecourse and we’re going to address those issues in our spring training program.”
The second American boat of Andrew Fisher (Greenwich, Conn.) Daniel Evans (Miami, Fla.) and 2-time Paralympic medalist Tom Brown (Northeast Harbor, Maine) finished 11th, and must now have a strong result at the next selection event to close the gap in the race to earn a spot at Rio 2016. The second and final US Sonar selection event will be ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères, France (April 25-May 1, 2016).
Pictured: The US Sailing Team Sperry Sonar team of Ricky Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Brad Kendell (Tampa, Fla.) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Maine). To leeward is Andrew Fisher (Greenwich, Conn.) Daniel Evans (Miami, Fla.) and Tom Brown (Northeast Harbor, Maine) Photo: Teri Dodds/ISAF.
In the 2.4mR class, the Americans were represented by Dee Smith (Annapolis, Md.), who finished 6th overall. The America’s Cup veteran and cancer survivor noted it was a tough event from start to finish. “The competition was the best in the world,” said Smith. “The top sailors do a very good job. They are all pros, and they’re as good as in any other class I have sailed in. This is what makes it fun and worth doing.” Smith noted that his campaign, which is less than a year old, is progressing quickly. “I have learned a lot and I am more comfortable in the boat but there is still a lot of work to do and I know I can be faster. I have a plan, and feel I am on track while working to be in the hunt with the best. I am very comfortable in conditions we expect in Rio but need to be faster in other conditions.” The two-part Rio 2016 selection system for US 2.4mR class sailors begins with ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami in Miami, Florida, from January 25–30, 2016.
Pictured: Dee Smith, 2.4mR. Photo: Teri Dodds/ISAF.
The 2015 Para World Sailing Championships were held from November 28 to December 3.
Note: All athlete and coach nominations to the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team are subject to the approval of U.S. Paralympics.
US Results, 2015 Para Sailing World Championships:
PARALYMPIC 2.4MR CLASS:
- 6th overall, Dee Smith (Annapolis, Md.)
PARALYMPIC SKUD-18 CLASS (Rio 2016 Selection Event):
- 8th overall – Ryan Porteous (San Diego, Calif.) and Maureen McKinnon (Marblehead, Mass.)
- 10th overall – Sarah Everhart-Skeels (Tiverton, R.I.) and Cindy Walker (Middletown, R.I.)
PARALYMPIC SONAR CLASS (Rio 2016 Selection Event):
- 6th overall – Ricky Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Brad Kendell (Tampa, Fla.) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Maine)
- 11th overall – Andrew Fisher (Greenwich, Conn.) Daniel Evans (Miami, Fla.) and Tom Brown (Northeast Harbor, Maine)
Watch USA Paralympic Hopefuls In Action with Uncharted Waters
About the US Sailing Team Sperry
The US Sailing Team Sperry is managed by the United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing. The top boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class are selected annually to be members of the US Sailing Team Sperry. US Sailing helps these elite athletes with financial, logistical, coaching, technical, fitness, marketing and communications support. The title sponsor of the team is Sperry; other sponsors include Gold-Level partner Sunbrella and Silver-Level partners Harken, Team McLube and Groupe Beneteau. Yale Cordage is a team supplier. The US Sailing Center Miami is an Olympic training site. Oakcliff Sailing and Clearwater Community Sailing Center are US Sailing Team Sperry Training Centers. Chubb Personal Insurance and the Gowrie Group sponsors US Sailing’s National Team Tour, a nationwide presentation program for US Sailing Team Sperry athletes. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org
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Press Contact: Will Ricketson, Olympic Communications Manager, US Sailing. firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 (978) 697-2384.