"We had a great week but as our last race showed, we still have a lot of work to do on the water before Rio so it's more a learning experience than a joyful victory."
Australia’s Paralympic champions Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch claimed their first world title in the SKUD 18 class as the 2014 IFDS Combined Sailing World Championships at Nova Scotia in Halifax, Canada, came to a close on Sunday (24 August).
On their way to victory, they beat 13 other teams including Great Britain’s Niki Birrell and Alexandra Rickham who were on the hunt for their sixth consecutive world title, but had to settle for silver. Italy’s Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti took the bronze.
During 11 rounds of racing, the Australian pair secured four first place finishes, and despite an uncharacteristic 13th place in the last outing, still had done enough to secure the gold medal.
“It's the first time we have ever won a World Champs. It's absolutely ‘fantabulous’ to be racing with Fitzy again - he's a legend,” Tesch told the Australian Paralympic Committee
“We had a great week but as our last race showed, we still have a lot of work to do on the water before Rio so it's more a learning experience than a joyful victory.
“It was great to have two other Aussie teams out there in the Skud fleet - it's tougher than London and tougher every time we race.”
In the 2.4mR class, Germany’s Heiko Kroeger took gold ahead of Great Britain’s Helena Lucas, to avenge her London 2012 defeat.
Lucas beat Kroeger to the Paralympic title two years ago, but some excellent sailing saw her win two rounds and never finish lower than eighth, as she topped the podium in a 49-strong field. Third place went to France’s Damien Seguin.
There was more glory to come for France in the Sonar class with Bruno Jourdren, Nicolas Vimont-Vicary and Eric Flageul taking the world title.
They recovered from a disastrous first round to regularly post top six finishes for the rest of the competition, allowing them to take gold.
Second place went to Canada’s Paul Tingley, Scott Lutes and Logan Campbell, whilst Australia’s Coling Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden took third.
In addition to the medals awarded, many boats also secured qualification slots for their country for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.