Paralympics London 2012 - Australians in medal hunt

Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch,(AUS)
After three days of racing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in Weymouth, Australian sailors are currently in medal positions in two classes.

Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch continue to lead the way in the Skud 18 class. Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Stephen Churm are third in the Sonar and Matt Bugg has moved up to sixth in the 2.4mR.

A lack of wind kept the three fleets on shore for a couple of hours on Monday morning with racing eventually able to get underway just after 1.30pm in seven knots of breeze on Portland Harbour.

In the first race of the day Fitzgibbon and Tesch were over the line early and were forced to re-start before chasing down their opponents. The Australian pair rounded the top mark second, behind the British crew, with positions staying the same for the remainder of the race. Fitzgibbon and Tesch picked up their second win of the regatta with a dominant display in Monday’s second race, leading from start to finish. T

he two results leave the pair one point ahead of the British with the American entry a point further back in third. 'We had light winds today and were held ashore for quite some time before racing eventually got underway,' said Fitzgiboon. 'In the first race we thought we were over the start line early so we went back and restarted. This cost us a fair bit but we fought back well to finish second.

'We’re displaying a very good fighting spirit out there with a never say die attitude,' he said. 'In the second race the start was much better for us and we led around the first mark. We had a very close tussle with the US crew towards the end of the race but we hung in there for a close victory.

'Tomorrow looks like another light day and we’re looking forward to continuing our battle out there,' he said.

Australians Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Stephen Churm remain third overall in the Sonar fleet after the opening six races. The Australian trio put the disappointment of being disqualified from the opening race on Sunday behind them, finishing with a seventh and a ninth to move within two points of the silver medal, and a further 11 of the lead.

Racing was again close in the 13 boat Sonar fleet with the Australians second to the top mark in race one. They slipped back to second at the bottom gate, eventually finishing the race eighth. In race two Harrison and crew rounded the top mark ninth, swapping places with those immediately around them in the light breeze before eventually crossing the finish line ninth.

Matt Bugg has moved up to sixth overall in the 2.4mR class following a seventh and a fifth from Monday’s two races.

The results leave Bugg tied on points with fifth and 10 points off the podium with five races left in the London 2012 Paralympic Games competition. Bugg came back through the fleet in race one after rounding the top mark in 15th. He picked up boats on each leg, eventually coming home seventh. The Tasmanian sailor was ninth around the first mark in race two, picking up a position on each of the downwind legs to finish seventh.

'The last couple of days have been great, I've had really consistent results and am currently tied on points with fifth,' said Bugg. 'The weather’s been perfect for sailing, I’m happy any time I can sail in Weymouth in shorts. I'm looking forward to tomorrow to hopefully put down some better results and climb up the leader board.'

Racing continues on Portland Harbour on Tuesday with another two races for each fleet. The sailing competition at the London 2012 Paralympic Games continues until Thursday 6 September.

Full results here
Australian Sailing Team website
Australian Paralympic Committee website