Access Class Combined World and International Championships preview

A strong fleet of Australian and international SKUD 18 teams are expected to be racing from Middle Harbour Yacht Club next April - Access World Championships 2012
Middle Harbour Yacht Club
Access Class 2012 Combined World and International Championships are being held from 7 to 13 April 2012. Middle Harbour Yacht Club has been busy preparing for the event.

With racing in four classes and seven divisions, the event is expected to attract over 120 sailors from 12 countries.

One of Sydney’s most active clubs, Middle Harbour Yacht Club is experienced in managing large regattas and has established a dedicated website for the Access Worlds. Detailed information includes accommodation and transport options and competitors can already download entry and boat charter documents.

The 2012 Worlds, like all Access class championships, is open to competitors of all abilities. This is a rare sporting opportunity for athletes with a disability to compete on equal terms with able-bodied athletes. Approximately 80% of competitors are expected to have some form of disability.

Standard of competition in the Access classes has been developing rapidly over the past five years. Class events already concluded in 2011 include the Australian and Asia-Pacific Championships in Perth, European Championships on Lake Garda in Italy and national championships in the UK, Portugal and France.

Access 2.3 European & Portuguese National Champion, Pedro Reis (POR), is expected to take on the best Australian sailors in Sydney next year - Access World Championships 2012
Middle Harbour Yacht Club

Winners of the various divisions in all these events are expected to make the trip to Sydney next April. Pedro Reis (POR) claimed the Access 2.3 European and Portuguese Championships and is looking forward to taking on Australian brothers Angus and Duncan MacGregor from Far North Queensland, who won the 2010 and 2007 world championships respectively in the 2.3 class.

2 Access Euro 260511 474 Zoltan Pegan HUN leads 303 1P
David Staley - copyright

Hungary’s Zoltan Pegan, reigning world and European Champion in the Access 303 single person, has confirmed he will be in Sydney with Eva Mircsev, his wife and sailing partner in the 303 two-crew event.

The Hungarian pair has won the world and European Championships in the two person division since 2007, but there are two Swiss teams who placed second and third in Italy this May, along with some Australian crews, who have plans to spoil their so far spotless competition record.

NL0811 Barry Coates Liberty AUS1015 Vera Voorbach NED2010 - Access World Championships 2012
Middle Harbour Yacht Club

In the Liberty competition, Barry Coates from Queensland’s Gold Coast will be expected to lead the charge after he won the Asia-Pacific and European Liberty competitions earlier this year. With rivals in this division coming from The Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and other parts of Australia, the Queenslander will have a battle on his hands.

Largest of the Access classes and Paralympic Games equipment, the SKUD 18, is also included in the ISAF Sailing World Cup series. Competitive fleets have contested Grade 1 Olympic and Paralympic classes events such as Sail Melbourne, Miami OCR, Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres, and Sail for Gold in Weymouth.

The 2011 IFDS Worlds – the final nations’ qualification event for the 2012 Paralympics - was held in Weymouth in July and attracted a fleet of 20 extremely competitive SKUDs from 12 nations.

Australian teams, including two from Sydney, are very competitive in the international SKUD fleet. The Aussies finished third, sixth and seventh at the IFDS Worlds and first, third and fifth at Sail for Gold. Top teams from the UK, Singapore and New Zealand regularly compete in Australian SKUD events.

'The standard of competitive sailing in the Access classes has stepped up considerably since the Association has developed a regular program of ISAF authorised world championships, along with regional championships and a growing number of annual national championships,' International Access Class President Terry Peek said.

'We’ll see some very close racing at Middle Harbour next year, and it’s unlikely that any one nation, even Australia, will dominate the results table,' he said.

The Combined World and International Championships will incorporate the following divisions, each sailing 10 heats over five days of racing:
• Access 2.3 Single Person Open World Championship
• Access 2.3 Single Person Servo International Championship
• Access 303 Single Person Open World Championship
• Access 303 Two Person Open World Championship
• Access Liberty Single Person Open World Championship
• Access Liberty Single Person Servo International Championship
• SKUD 18 Two Person International Championship

With a membership of 1600 and the largest active sailing membership in Sydney, MHYC is one of Australia's most respected yacht clubs in the country with numerous Olympians and national champions amongst its members.

Recognised as a national leader in sail training and aquatic education programs, the Club premises is also the home of the Australian Sailing Team.

'Middle Harbour Yacht Club is working closely with the Access Class to ensure 2012 is the best ever World Championships,' MHYC Commodore Julie Hodder said.

'Making sure we have everything in place for accommodation, charter boats, onshore facilities, volunteer recruitment and training, race management and a good social program, are just some of the tasks the Club’s organising committee has been working on.

'We are confident this will be a great event enjoyed equally by the Australian and International competitors', she said.

3 Access Euro 260511 386 Vera Voorbach NED2010
David Staley - copyright

Race Area - Access World Championships 2012
Middle Harbour Yacht Club

Access Worlds website