Norway Win Sonar Class at Clagett Regatta

Norway’s Sonar Paralympic team won the Clagett Regatta in Newport, USA, whilst the home sailor, Marc LeBlanc, won the 2.4mR race 12 Jul 2012
A picture of 3 persons in a boat

Skippered by Aleksander Wang-Hansen, with Per Eugen Kristianson and Marie Solberg, the 2012 Norwegian Paralympians won the Sonar class at the 2012 C. Thomas Clagett Regatta by one point over the USA team.

ⒸThornton Cohen

“This event is the best event in the United States.”

A hard-fought battle took place on the Sonar course where Paralympians and Norway’s reigning world champions Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Per Eugen Kristianson and Marie Solberg had started the day with the lead of the standings – while tied on points with 2008 Paralympian Rick Doerr (USA) and crew Gerry Tiernan and Hugh Freund.

With the Norwegian team posting finishes of 2-1, and Doerr’s team finishing 3-2, the Norwegians prevailed to take their first class win at The Clagett with 13 points, just one point ahead of Doerr, Tiernan and Freund.

The USA’s representatives to the Paralympic Games remained third overall, 12 points out of first place, despite finishing 1-3 in Monday’s (9 July) racing. Paul Callahan, Tom Brown and Brad Johnson, will compete for the first time as a team at the Paralympic Games, although all three have competed in a previous Paralympics.

With the largest turnout of any class in the regatta’s history, the 13-strong 2.4 Metre fleet sailed two races on Monday (9 July). With two Paralympians in the fleet – USA’s Marc LeBlanc and Puerto Rico’s Julio Reguero– as well as 2010 class winner Charles Rosenfield, the racing for the podium positions was intense.

Reguero and Rosenfield had each won a race thus far in the series and the day started with Reguero in second by just a three point margin over Rosenfield. LeBlanc, who had won two races on the second day of the event, held the standings lead and, despite posting a 2-5, held on for the win with a low score of 12 points.

Rosenfield had come out guns blazing and took a bullet in the first race, and followed with a second-place finish while Reguero finished fourth in the first race before going on to win the final race of the series. It wasn’t enough, however, for Reguero to hold on to his place in the overall standings as Rosenfield had done enough to move up to second overall on 18 points, followed just one point back by Reguero.

“This event is the best event in the United States,” said Reguero, who had utilized the 2008 Clagett as training before representing Puerto Rico in the Paralympic Games that year. “Every time you go in the water you learn a new thing. It is really tough sailing in Newport, so training here with Mark [LeBlanc] and the other guys pushes you to the limits.”

Explaining that he hoped to continue improving over the coming weeks, Reguero detailed a heavy training schedule that included the national championships in Finland and Sweden before spending a week at home preparing before travelling to London for the 2012 Paralympics.

In the two-boat SKUD-18 class, US Paralympians Jen French and JP Creignou were passed in the standings after Sarah Everhart-Skeels and Brenda Hopkin won the lone race in the SKUD-18.

The C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Trophy for 2012 was awarded to Marc LeBlanc for the second consecutive year. Awarded to the sailor with the best overall performance at the C. Thomas Clagett Jr. Memorial Clinic and Regatta, the trophy was presented to LeBlanc, who will represent the USA at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in the 2.4 Metre, at the conclusion of racing. LeBlanc won two of the eight races sailed, finished second in five races, and saw his worst finish, a fifth which he was able to discard, in the final race of the series.

“This regatta is a favorite of mine,” said LeBlanc during the awards presentation. “You can show up in the shirt on your back and go sailing for three days and not worry about a thing.”

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