"Britain’s top Paralympic Classes sailors are in confident form ahead of the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships, which get underway in Athens on Wednesday (14 October).

Buoyed by their recent podium performances at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, and in the overall ISAF Sailing World Cup series, British crews in the three Paralympic class boats are determined to continue their winning ways along the road to 2012.

And with all seven Skandia Team GBR sailors set to compete for World Championship glory in Athens this week, more silverware is already within their sights.

For 22-year-old Megan Pascoe, her World Cup series victory in the single-handed 2.4mR class – clinched on home waters in Weymouth in Portland last month – capped off a consistent year and provided a timely boost to her Worlds campaign

“It’s shown that I’ve had a really good year, I’ve been solid and I’ve had some great results so I can be up there with the best of the guys,” she explained.

“I’ve got a very good chance. I’ve been out to Scandinavia as well [as Skandia Sail for Gold] where I beat the best able-bodied guys, so there is the chance that I could go on and win the world title, and that would just be amazing.

“I haven’t sailed in Greece since 2003 so it’s been a while since I’ve been out there. I think it’s just a case of going out there and seeing what I can get. It should be good fun!”

Pascoe will be joined in the 31-boat 2.4mR fleet by Helena Lucas, who finished seventh for Great Britain at the 2008 Paralympic Games.

The World Cup-winning Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas will be looking to reclaim the World Championship title they won in 2005 and 2006 when they line up in the 14-boat Sonar fleet this week.

Robertson, Stodel and Thomas claimed gold for Skandia Team GBR at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta and silver at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta to establish themselves as key contenders in the Sonar fleet after their disappointment at the Paralympic Games.

“We’ve moved on from Beijing – we came sixth there – and now it’s time to re-establish ourselves as number one in the world,” said a determined Thomas after claiming the World Cup win last month.

Meanwhile in the SKUD 18 – the newest of the Paralympic classes – Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell also have gold in their sights to complete the full set of medals this year, having claimed bronze in Miami, and silver at Skandia Sail for Gold to hand them silver in the overall World Cup series.

The duo, who finished fifth at the Beijing Paralympics, have been working this year with new coach Ian Barker – a silver medallist in the 49er class at the Sydney 2000 Games – which Rickham says has been paying off.

“It’s been really positive,” the 28-year-old explained.

“Obviously Ian’s a silver medal winner so it’s been a great opportunity for us as a team to be able have someone who’s that experienced, and it’s been great for him as he’s been able to understand the way we work and try and tweak a few bits and pieces before the World Championships, which is really our focus this year.”

Rickham continued: “We’re content with the [World Cup] silver, but it’s gold that we really want – that’s what we’re aiming for, and hopefully Ian’s going to be able to help us to complete that.”

Racing at the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championship gets underway on Wednesday 14 October. An 11-race series is scheduled, with the regatta concluding on Sunday 18 October.

Lindsey Bell

See Regatta racing images:

Skandia Team GBR squad for the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships:

Name Born Place of Birth Lives


Niki Birrell 16/08/86 Manchester Knutsford

Alexandra Rickham 11/09/1981 Kingston, Jamaica Epsom, Surrey


Megan Pascoe 29/11/1986 Shoreham-by-Sea Portland, Dorset

Helena Lucas 29/04/1975 Redhill, Surrey Southampton


John Robertson 11/02/1972 Sunderland Sunderland

Hannah Stodel 27/08/1985 Colchester West Mersea
Stephen Thomas 05/01/1977 Bridgend Cardiff"

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