The Access Class 2012 Combined World, International & Australian Championships have recently concluded at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Sydney. With racing in 4 classes and 7 divisions, the bi-annual event attracted 115 sailors from 9 countries.
The 2012 Worlds, like all Access Class championships, are open to competitors of all abilities. These are one of the few sporting opportunities where athletes with a disability compete on equal terms with able bodied athletes. Approximately 70% of the competitors in these championships have some form of disability. All of the 15 Victorian sailors who attended have been involved in Sailability programs located at their local sailing club.
Mark Thorpe and Bruce James (Latrobe Valley YC) claimed Bronze medal position in the Access 303 Two-Person World Championship and 2nd in the Nationals. Mark has been sailing solo in the Access 2.3 for several years but combined with Sailability Gippsland volunteer Bruce James for the big event. There were another 3 Victorian crews in this highly competitive 25 boat fleet.
Neil Patterson (Docklands YC) just missed out on a medal in the Access 303 Single-Person International Championship, placing 4th just ahead of Alison Weatherly (Ballaarat Yacht Club). Patterson has only recently returned to sailing since a sailing accident but has quickly adapted his skills to the Access classes.
Cherie McLean (Mornington YC) was the only female sailor in the top ten of the Liberty fleet, while Russell Phillips & Sally Wilkinson (Docklands YC) took on Paralympic representatives from 3 nations in the SKUD 18 competition.
Overall, Victorian sailors performed extremely well in the strongest competition ever seen in the Access Classes. The next Combined World & International Championships will be in San Francisco in 2014.
For results, photos and more news about the event, visit: www.accessclass.org or www.2012accessworlds.mhyc.com.au
Additional Event Media Information:
David Staley - AACA Executive Officer - firstname.lastname@example.org 0428 514 058