France’s sonar team of Bruno Jourden, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary is aiming for a third straight world title at the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships, which begin Tuesday (24 November) in Melbourne, Australia.
After missing out on the podium at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the trio came back to win both the World Championships in 2013 and 2014, making them the team to beat ahead of this year’s competition, which runs until 3 December.
At London 2012, the group finished fourth behind Norway. The Netherlands won gold, followed by Germany. But that disappointment only motivated the French trio.
“Things changed after London for the team,” Vimont-Vicary said. “Everybody on the team understood that we didn’t lose that medal. We gave it away. So we decided to sail differently to be clear of contact, and that’s why we have had two successful years with two World Championships and hopefully a third one in Australia.”
The new-found approach however has not been plain sailing for the crew as they have had to overcome various trials along the way, putting their winning instinct to the test.
"In the last World Championships in Canada, we made a mistake on the first day and were disqualified,” Vimont-Vicary said. “To start the World Championships in that way was hard but still we finished first. It’s important to be able to win like that.”
The French finished ahead of second-place Canada and third-place Australia; all are returning the same squads from the 2014 World Championships.
“There are some countries we see only in the World Championship like the United States and Canada for example,” Vimont-Vicary said. “The last time we saw them was in last year’s World Championships so it’s important to see how we are against all of the nations.”
“We have to train with the others because when you train alone everybody is a world champion, so it’s important to train with the other guys to see where we’re at.”
This year’s regatta is the second and final qualification regatta for Rio 2016. Seven spots in the 2.4mR, five in the SKUD18 and six in the sonar will be decided in Melbourne.
Paralympic silver medallists Germany send the same trio (Jens Kroker, Siegmund Mainka and Robert Premreturn) from London 2012, as do Paralympic bronze medallist Norway (Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen). But the defending Paralympic champions the Netherlands are absent from the list. The French will battle 15 other sonar entries for the world title.
“For the moment we are focused on the World Championships but we know in the months ahead that Rio is the most important competition, although we have to be in the moment,” added Vimont-Vicary.
“We are the world champions so of course we want to keep our title, but even though we are world champions and respected by the others, of course they want to fight us.”
For complete information on the 2015 Para World Sailing Championships in Melbourne, visit the event website.