Macquarie Access World Championships – Wind gods strike on final day

Angus MacGregor successfully defended his Access 2.3 title - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012
Macquarie 2012 Access World Championships, being hosted by Middle Harbour Yacht Club on Sydney Harbour, final morning was beautiful but while the warm sun smiled down on the 120 competitors, the wind gods went on strike forcing race officials to abandon racing in the single-person competitions.

Principal Race Officer, Mark Pryke, waited and waited, but there was no alternative, so yesterday’s overall leaders are today’s winners.

A bit of brotherly love and Angus and Duncan MacGregor have finished first and second in the Access 2.3 single-person World Championship. Sixteen year-old Angus from Tinaroo in Queensland has successfully retained his world title in the class, courtesy of four wins, a trio of seconds and a fourth place.

His 22 year-old brother, Duncan, a university student living in Canberra, counted two wins and a trio of seconds in his score. Like his younger brother, he did not stray outside the top five, despite being out of the class for a while because of studies.

Angus, who won the Australian Sailor of the Year with a Disability in 2010, has an enormous amount of talent and a bright future ahead in sailing, if he should pursue that course.

'I wanted to win the title again – so I feel a bit relieved that it’s all over – but it wasn’t a life or death sort of wish,' he said laughing.

Of him and Duncan placing top two, Angus just said, 'Yeah, it’s really nice.' For Duncan, 'it’s a pretty good feeling.'

Duncan explained: 'When you turn up to big world class regattas like this, you don’t know who will be here. There’s always new people, and people from overseas you haven’t raced before, so you never know what the level will be.'

'It would have been good to race today; it’s really light. We’ve had a great mix of weather, which means it doesn’t favour anyone – everyone gets a fair go,' he said.

Angus added: 'Actually, if you’re a good sailor, you should be good in all conditions.'

A big supporter of the 2.3 class, Angus said: 'This is the original Access boat and I’d like to see the fleet kept strong.'

Greg Hyde in top form to win Access Liberty World title - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Greg Hyde, who represented Australia in windsurfing at the 1984 Olympic Games and went on to claim fame in the 16 foot skiff class and in ocean racing, winning the 1993 Sydney Hobart, won five out of eight races in the Access Liberty single-handed class to claim the world title.

Hyde, from Clontarf near Middle Harbour, contracted encephalitis 14 years ago, then had a stroke in 2008, resulting in partial paralysis, short-term memory loss, and speech difficulties, none of which have affected his great skill in tactical racing.

As they say, you can’t keep a good man down, and while many threw down the gauntlet this week, Hyde was not distracted from the task at hand; winning.

Chris Cook - finished second overall in the Liberty - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Hyde’s nearest rival was Christopher Cook (AUS), a national and international champion who received Ballina Council’s Australia Day award for outstanding work as a volunteer. Cook finished 12 points behind Hyde, with Frenchman, Gerard Eychenne third, a further 13 points away.

Now competition is over, Hyde intends getting back into the 2.4mR Paralympic class with hopes of competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics. 'Winning,' he says, 'is a matter of choice. Making the right tactical decisions, going training, staying positive.'

He described the mixed conditions of the week, which included 26, 15 and 6-12 knot winds, as 'challenging.' Hyde added, 'It has been tactical, definitely, with all the wind shifts and pressure.'

Hyde, who feels fortunate that his health has not affected his sailing ability, said Cook and Eychenne both gave him a run for his money.

Able-bodied sailor Michael Leydon (AUS) has claimed the Access 303 international title from Stephen Churm (AUS).

Stephen Churm (NSW) sailing for Gold in the 303 single-person - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

Sydney sailor Churm, whose inclusion in the Australian team for the London Paralympics in the Sonar three-person keelboat will become known on Monday, looked to be in the money. However, Leydon was on a winning streak and Churm could not combat the onslaught of five wins.

'The regatta was fantastic,' Churm said. 'It was well-run, the volunteers were terrific, all to the credit of Middle Harbour Yacht Club. Sailing wise, we had everything and the competition has come a long way since I sailed in the class.'

Tasmanian able-bodied sailor, Rodney Viney finished third, and with his Tassie team mates had a fun week at the regatta.

Helana Horswell (NZL) made magic in the Liberty Servo - Macquarie Access World Championships 2012

New Zealander Helena Horswell has taken out the Liberty single-person Servo International Championship from three Dutch sailors who breathed down her neck all week.

Horswell won by four points over Wilma Van den Broek, with Sefke Jan Holtrop third and Vera Voorbach fourth in a strong Dutch showing.

The Kiwi sailor is the only one competing in the Servo to complete all eight races. She used humour to overcome Tuesday’s winds of up to 26 knots with big gusts to get her through the day, saying: 'I laughed at nature, but the heavy winds are hard to operate with the levers,' and cited the competition as being 'very high.'

Tonight’s prize giving will be held during the Closing Ceremony at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, followed by an official dinner.

It has been a wonderful event.

Macquarie Access World Championships website