Paralympics London 2012: Day 4 - races of two halves in Portland

Paul Francis negotiates a mark on Portland Harbour - Paralympics, Day 4
David Staley - IFDS ©

It was racing of two halves for the two New Zealand crews sailing in the 2012 Paralympics Regatta on Portland Harbour, near Weymouth, England

All competitors faced another long day on the water, first waiting for enough wind to race and then struggling through a series of abandoned attempts, until finally two short races were sailed on near landlocked Portland Harbour.

'I was humbled today going from hero to zero in two abandoned races' said SKUD 18 skipper Tim Dempsey. 'At one moment we were leading at the top mark and then in the next we were last.'

Winds were fickle and unfriendly for the NZL Sailing Team’s top Paralympic sailors, with the SKUD 18 team slipping down one position on the leader board to 10th overall; however 2.4mR sailor Paul Francis gained one. He is now positioned 13th overall after finishing 11th and 12th in Monday’s two races.

Jan Apel and Tim Dempsey (NZL), SKUD 18 racing on Day 4 of the 2012 Paralympics at Portland
David Staley - IFDS ©
'I’m half way there,' Francis said 'I’ve got good starts and great positions at the top mark but just need to keep sorting out the other half of the race. The fleet is really tight.'

The races were short and conservative on this fourth day of racing, with both fleets sailing a windward leeward course rather than a trapezoid as they have in all races until today. Points are still close as the regatta heads into the final three races, Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel in the two person keelboat class are just four points off the eighth ranked position.

'It was a mentally exhausting day' said SKUD 18 coach Rob Hielkema. 'Both crews were really well positioned in those races that were eventually abandoned.'

After 2:30pm when the first ‘counting’ race finally got underway, Dempsey and Apel were playing catch up from the very beginning as they were stuck in bad air off the start line. In the second race, they were in the lead pack but just narrowly missed out on a left hand wind shift which many others got into early. They finished 10th in both races.

'They are gutted, but in good spirits and really staying positive. They’re still so keen to show what they can do in the final races' said Hielkema.

Three races remain and both fleets will sail another two races tomorrow, and one final race on Wednesday starting from 10:00pm NZT (11:00am local time) on Portland Harbour.

Day 4: Current Standings after 8 of 11 races

10th – Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel (SKUD 18) – 9, 9, 5, 7, 8, 11, 10, 10

13th - Paul Francis (2.4mR) 14, 10, 14, 12, 14, 3, 11, 12

For full results http://www.sailing.org/paralympics/london2012/results.php!click_here

Australia and Britain competing in the SKUD18 class on Day 4 of the 2012 Paralympics at Portland
David Staley - IFDS ©

New Zealand to windward of Malaysia on Day 4 of the 2012 Paralympics at Portland
David Staley - IFDS ©

IFDS 040912 SKUD DSC 1063cr
David Staley - IFDS ©

SKUD 18 racing on Day 4 of the 2012 Paralympics at Portland
David Staley - IFDS ©

SKUD 18 racing on Day 4 of the 2012 Paralympics at Portland
David Staley - IFDS ©

Helen Lucas (GBR) on Day 4 of the 2012 Paralympics at Portland
David Staley - IFDS ©