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Sailing - 11. September 2013.

Lucas takes over at the top

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London 2012 champion, Helena Lucas, got the home flags flying as she moved to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the 2013 International 2.4mR World Championships at the Poole Yacht Club today (Wednesday 11 September).

Lucas picked up her second race win of the regatta, following a thrilling tactical battle with British Sailing Team teammate, Megan Pascoe, to complement the third and fourth places she also scored from today’s three races, to hold a three point lead over six-time World Champion, Stellan Berlin, with six races to go.

GBR and SWE are the sail numbers dominating the top five placings with Lucas’ coach, the Sydney 2000 49er silver medalist, Ian Barker, in third, reigning World Champion, Peter Andersson fourth and Pascoe in fifth. With six races completed all 75 competitors can now discard their worst score of the regatta.

While Lucas and Barker shared a race win apiece, victory in the other race of the day went to Canada’s two-time Paralympian, Bruce Millar, the next President-elect of the International 2.4mR class. Millar sits just outside the top 10 in 11th midway through the regatta and he admits he is pleased to see so many new faces top the class breaking into the top 10.

He said: “It was nice to get the first today but I seem to be less consistent I have been in the past, breaking into the top 10 has been more difficult in this regatta. We’re seeing some new people in the top 10 we haven’t seen before and I think their hard work is paying off. It just tells me that more people are sailing the boats regularly and they’re out there practicing. What drives us as Paralympians is sailing with the able-bodied sailors, which makes us all faster and then the whole level rises.   

He added: “The first race today everything went my way. I was at the pin end, and pin end starts, when I get them right, are really a strong point of mine. I came in with lots of room, flying with speed. I was extended immediately within 5-10 seconds and after that it was just a case of making the boat go fast and keeping clear. I didn’t lead the race the whole way but it came down to the last run and I knew I could take advantage of the opportunity to get ahead of the French sailor Eric Drye.”

Pascoe enjoyed a better day scorewise – picking up two seconds and a seventh - to close the gap on the medal places. She was in little doubt where she made her gains.

She said: “It was a very similar day weatherwise to yesterday, the shifts were just as big and just as crazy. I still got very good starts like yesterday, but today I just had a better handle on the shifts and picking up the odd half a boat length, which meant I got to the front of the pack and got going. You get that one shift that puts you in the top 10 and life does become a lot easier as the fleet separates quite quickly.

“It then becomes a bit more boat on boat. You do still have to watch out for the really big shifts; I lost my lead in the second race because I missed a huge shift. The other 70 boats did too but it was a just a bit frustrating. The rest of the week is going to be very similar so it will stay very tactical and anything can still happen.”

Although a discarded OCS moved Barker into the medal positions on his competitive 2.4mR class debut, he could be looking at an even healthier placing if it hadn’t been for a rather inconvenient mid-race collision with a pole in race five. The incident caused much hilarity in the surrounding boats but cost Barker another low score.

He explained: “It’s unique to Poole Harbour they have these posts marking the channel. This post must have been just behind my jib and I didn’t see it and the next thing I know I’ve hit the pole, it’s caught on top of the forestay and I came to a stop. But they’re quite springy and it spat me out backwards from the direction I’d just come about the same speed! There was a lot of spontaneous laughter around me!”

Racing is due to resume tomorrow (Thursday 12 September), with organisers exploring the possibility of including the provision to run four races. Event director, John Yonwin, insists no decision will be made on that without the full co-operation of the competitors and volunteers.

He said: “We firmly believe once we’ve made a decision to make any alterations, if possible and we have time, we will consult with the class representatives. Making some sort of change is pointless if we haven’t got the competitors and volunteers on side with that decision.”

For more details about the 2013 International 2.4mR Class World Championships visit www.24mworlds2013.co.uk or follow @24mRWorlds2013 on Twitter.
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