Sailors aim for Beijing

TWO members of Grafham Water Sailability have competed in the first ever Challenger Regatta to be recognised by the International Federation of Disabled Sailing held at Rutland Water. Grafham s Andy Smith, who had been racing at Cowes the previous week, f

TWO members of Grafham Water Sailability have competed in the first ever Challenger Regatta to be recognised by the International Federation of Disabled Sailing held at Rutland Water.

Grafham's Andy Smith, who had been racing at Cowes the previous week, finished in an unexpected sixth place while Judi Figgures - who is aiming for a place at the Beijing Paralympics - had a disappointing event, finishing in ninth place.

Sailors from Argentina, South Africa, Japan, Greece, Portugal, Hungary, Russia, Ireland and the UK took part, with most of the international sailors having never sailed a Challenger before the event. The Regatta was the first stage in trying to get the boat accepted for the 2012 Paralympic games and both the international competitors and the IFDS were impressed by the Challenger and the way it can be adapted to allow sailors with a wide range of disabilities to compete on a level playing field.

History was made with the presence of the first Hungarian sail number to be seen in disabled competition. Zoltan Pegan finished in fourth place, the top international competitor, having successfully tackled the Challenger boat. Pegan has sailed worldwide, though a lack of funding from the Hungarian Federation has meant he has had to beg or borrow vessels to sail.


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Lack of funding is also a problem that has blighted British disabled sailors who have had to find the money or sponsorship to buy their own boats to train in the GB squad and hope they are then chosen to compete in Beijing 2008.

Results: 1st Val Milward (UK), 2nd Graham Hall (UK), 3rd John Draper (UK), 4th Zoltan Pegan (Hun), 6th Andy Smith (UK), 9th Judi Figgures (UK)

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INFORMATION: To learn more about Grafham Water Sailability or Challenger sailing boats visit www.grafhamsailability.fsnet.co.uk or www.sailchallengers.com

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