Rickham and Birrell aiming for sixth world title

The pair from Great Britain have won this title consecutively at the last five competitions, and will aim for a sixth title in Halifax, Canada. 19 Aug 2014
Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell

Great Britain's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell compete in the SKUD two-person keelboat class.

ⒸRichard Langdon/British Sailing Team

“There are a lot of unknowns to be honest so we are just going in with open minds.”

Great Britain’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are aiming for a sixth straight world title at the IFDS Disabled Sailing Combined World Championships in Halifax, Canada, between 19-24 August.

The Paralympic bronze medallists are among the 11-strong British contingent set to compete at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.

Despite having won this title five times and being the favourites heading into this event, Rickham is not putting the pressure on herself for glory this time around.

She said: “The Worlds this year is a country qualification event for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio and it’s the biggest Championships that we have had since London 2012, plus it will also be the first time we will see the Aussie Paralympic gold medallists.

“There are a lot of unknowns to be honest so we are just going in with open minds.”

The pair are looking to extend their unbeaten run to six regattas since winning bronze at London 2012, which included the European crown last year and victory at the recent North American Championships.

Birrell, 28, has stated that the opportunity to race against a large international fleet is crucial in terms of their preparations for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

“In SKUD sailing you don’t get to race against the top guys very often so it’s imperative that when you do come up against them that you see where they are at, see what you can learn and see what ideas they are using to help try and improve your campaign.

“Every time you enter an event you want to win, you want to do your best and you want to compete at the top of the fleet.

“To win another world title would be fantastic, but the ultimate aim is to win in Rio in two years’ time so it is crucial that we are making progress and are on the right lines so come September 2016 we are on the top step of the podium.”

For more information on the IFDS Disabled Sailing Combined World Championships, visit the event website.