Paralympics London 2012 - Introducing the Classes

by RYA 
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas, (GBR)
London Paralympics 2012: Want to know your Sonar from your SKUD? Or how to simply understand what types of disability are able to sail which type of boat? Matt Grier, the RYA Disability Racing Development Coach, provides a very simple introduction to the three Paralympic classes that will be competing.



How it Works: For all Olympic and Paralympic classes, except Women’s Match Racing , the sailors compete in fleet racing, where all boats in the same class race at the same time. Paralympic Classes: Sailing is a multi-disability sport where athletes from the amputee, cerebral palsy, visually impaired, wheelchair and les autres groups can compete together. There are slight modifications in equipment in order to suit an athlete’s ability.The boats used as Paralympic classes have keels, mainly because this design provides greater stability. These keelboats have open cockpits to allow more room for the sailors. Competition in Paralympic classes is run under the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing and according to the IFDS Race Management and the IFDS Functional Classification System. Competitors are ranked according to a points system from one to seven, where low points are given to the severely disabled and high points for the less disabled. Sonar - Each crew of three is allowed a maximum of 14 points between them. Skud 18 - one sailor has a more severe level of disability (equivalent to a class one or two) while the other must have a minimum level of disability that prevents them competing on equal terms with able-bodied sailors. One crew member must be female. 2.4mR - Single-handed sailors must have a minimum level of disability. The sailors compete in fleet racing, where all boats in the same class race at the same time. Each class completes a series of 11 races but with no double points medal race. For the whole series, the sailors accrue points depending on where they finish in a race (ie: 1st = 1 point, 2nd = 2 etc). The boat with the lowest overall score at the end of the series will win the event. One race is required to constitute a regatta. Once five or more races have been completed, the sailors can discard their worst score from their series scores – the score a boat discards often changes as the regatta progresses. Two races per day are scheduled for each class from 1 to 5 September, with one race for each class on the final scheduled day (6 September). Racing is scheduled to start at 11am each day. No race will start later than 6pm.

You can learn more about the classes – their history, boat dimensions and previous medallists here.

RYA London 2012 website