With Australia topping the sport’s medals table at Rio 2016, France’s Damien Seguin taking his second Paralympic gold after 12 years and Canadian Paul Tingley winning his third medal, sailing left some memorable moments at September’s Paralympic Games.
The competitions come in at No. 42 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments.
The 2.4m Norlin OD one-person keelboat, the SKUD28 two-person keelboat and the Sonar three-person keelboat were the three classes contested at the beautiful Marina da Gloria, in the shadow of the Sugar Loaf and Corcovado mountains, in Rio.
After 12 years, Frenchman Damien Seguin was crowned Paralympic champion again when he crossed the finish line in fourth place in the last race of the 2.4m Norlin OD. He finished ahead of Great Britain’s London 2012 champion Helena Lucas, the only sailor who could mathematically beat him.
Seguin, who also won silver at Beijing 2008, was followed by Australia’s Matthew Bugg, who claimed silver thanks to a first place in the final race, demoting Lucas to third.
“I am just happy as I have worked a lot since my fourth place in London 2012. I was sure I could do it, and I did,” said Seguin.
“I am a competitor, so I always go for first place. My start to the regatta was not very good, but every day I improved my racing. I always say that the regatta is 11 races, not 10. And by the 11th race I got to first overall.
“I have an association in France to encourage people with impairment to go sailing and they came to Rio this week. They were at the beach every day to support me. It was amazing.”
Australia’s Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch were the overwhelming champions in the SKUD18 class, successfully defending their London 2012 title and confirming their status as the world’s best pair after winning two world titles in 2014 and 2015, and multiple World Cups together.
They ended first in eight of the ten races to finish the regatta with only 12 points, far ahead of Canada’s Jackie Gay and John McRoberts, who claimed silver with 34. Great Britain’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell completed the podium with 36.
“We can adapt to everything, we can deal with craziness and deal with instability and come out on top,” said Fitzgibbon.
Tesch, who competed in wheelchair basketball over five Paralympic Games between 1992-2008, added: “It is a lovely reward for lots of hard work. The first gold gave me an incredible sense of satisfaction, after chasing it for 24 years...The second was more a joyful celebration of everything!
“Rio 2016 was a hugely tough regatta, with incredibly testing conditions. But Daniel [Fitzgibbon] and I combined our training and experience to minimise errors and perform at our absolute best.”
Colin Harrinson, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden added a second gold to Australia’s sailing medal haul in the Sonar, finishing first in the regatta with 26 points. There were followed by USA’s Rick Doerr, Hugh Freund and Brad Kendell (44) and Canada’s Paul Tingley, Scott Lutes and Logan Campbell (51).
Fresh from becoming Paralympic champion, Harrinson said he was feeling: “Just elation. It has been a long time coming and it feels great to get there. There is a lot of emotion.”
For Canada’s Tingley, it was his third time on the podium. The 46-year-old has been competing in the sport since its introduction to the Paralympic programme at Sydney 2000, where he took bronze in the Sonar.
Tingley could not medal in Athens, Greece, in 2004 but switched to the 2.4m Norlin OD to claim his first and only Paralympic title at Beijing 2008. He could not defend the title in London finishing fifth.
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.