Paralympic sailing underway

A US perspective of the first day in Sonars and 2.4m

Sunday September 19th 2004, Author: Jan Harley, Location: Mediterranean
U.S. sailors got off to a fast start at the Paralympic Regatta as both the 2.4 Metre and Sonar sailors jumped to second place positions in their respective overall standings following the first two races of the series that began today at the Agios Kosmas Sailing Centre.

The Sonar team of John Ross-Duggan, Brad Johnson and J.P. Creignou grabbed second place in the overall standings on finishes of 3-2, while Tom Brown sailed to second overall in the 2.4 Metre fleet with finishes of 4-2, on a windy day on the Saronic Gulf.

"We finished better than we thought we would today," said Ross-Duggan on a day when the predominant winds blew over 20 knots. "But the fact that we are doing well in the heavy stuff is going to be wonderful for us, because in the light to moderate (winds) we are very competitive."

In the first race of the day, Australia narrowly edged out the USA at the finish line to place second. The USA came back to take the runner-up spot in the second race with a comfortable margin over third-place finisher Norway.

"It turned out to be a decent day," said Johnson. "We didn't have a great start but we kept fighting back. That's what it was all about today… fighting back and making sure we maintained."

Israel won both races to take the early lead in the overall standings, followed by the USA with five points and Norway with eight.

"They're very aggressive and very sharp sailors," said Ross-Duggan of the Israelis. "They'll continue to be a factor throughout the regatta, but so will some of the others. We've still got a long way to go."

The heavy winds caused a brief delay to the start of racing for the 2.4 Metre fleet, but Brown made the most of the windy conditions once the competition got underway.

"I felt pretty good about my speed," said Brown, the 2000 2.4 Metre Paralympic bronze medallist. "But I made a big mistake in the first race. Instead of going out to the front I should have just stayed with the guys I had behind me. There was shift and those other two (Heiko Kroeger of Germany and Thierry Schmitter of The Netherlands) got ahead of me. In the second race I didn't let that happen."

Damien Seguin of France leads the competition with a pair of first place finishes and two points. Brown holds second overall, followed by Kroeger and Schmitter; all three are tied on points with six apiece.

"I feel pretty good right now," said Brown. "It's a long series. The winds are going to change, but I think we're looking pretty good right now. "You don't want to be too far ahead too early," he joked with a sly smile. "You've got to wait until the end."

Racing continues on Sunday with races three and four in both classes.

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