The Irish Paralympic Sailors jump two places and lie second of nine contenders for one of six places on the start line in Rio next year. The Sonar Sailing team jumped two places today to 7th overall with a 4th in both races at the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships in Williamstown, Melbourne, Australia.
The first race for all three fleets of boats was run in a warm northerly breeze of 15 knots or so, with gusts of up to 20 knots. However, in the second race, the breeze built quickly with challenging conditions for all sailors. The very strong gusts, reported at 30 knots, caught many crews unawares, with spectacular results. Two of the boats in the Skud sailing fleet broke their masts and had to be towed ashore unable to finish their second race of the day.
With five more races to go, Austin O'Carroll, one of the crew of the Irish Paralympic team said: "We are at last competing at the very top of the fleet. We are really pleased but need to keep plugging in those top results."
Apart from the leading boat, Australia, scores are still quite close in this fleet and give the promise of some further great competition over the next three days.
Among the 18 boats in the Sonar fleet, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Greece and Norway have already booked their place at Rio 2016.
However Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Spain, the United States and the US Virgin Islands will be chasing the remaining six spots on offer, with three teams set to miss out on berths for the Games.
The Irish Paralympic Sailing Team comprising John Twomey, Ian Costello and Austin O'Carroll is campaigning to qualify for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. This final qualifying event is being hosted by one of the oldest sailing clubs in Australia, the Royal Yacht Club Victoria, Williamstown, Melbourne from November 28th to the 3rd of December 2015. The event comprises of eleven races, two for each of the first five days with the final race on Dec 3rd.
The team compete in the 23 foot Sonar Class, which for Paralympic events is a two sails keelboat. The Irish team are currently ranked 5th in the world.
Racing out of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria in Williamstown, a small suburb of Melbourne, competitors are seeking to qualify for a place on the start line in the Paralymic Games in Rio, Brazil 2016. The Irish team need to secure a place in the top six overall in this championship to secure their place on the start line in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Entries from 31 countries and 81 boats comprising 142 sailors are competing for just 35 places to participate in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil next year. The fleet of sailors across three different types of boats include 45 sailing the 2.4mR (single person boat), 18 sailing the SKUD 18 (two person boat) and 18 sailing the Sonar (three person boat).
In total, 35 athletes, across three fleets of boats will book their spot at Rio 2016 in Melbourne. Seven spots in the 2.4mR, five in the SKUD18 and six in the Sonar will be up for grabs.