Para Sailing champions decided at Sail Melbourne

Three National Champions were decided at Sail Melbourne today, with the Australia Para Sailing National Championships concluding on another stunning Melbourne day.

Wynyard Yacht Club’s Chris Symonds is the current World Champion in the Hansa 303 class, and he doubled down on that victory by finishing on top of the podium at Sail Melbourne 2022. 

Symonds has joined Australian Sailing and Sail Melbourne to support World Sailing’s #BackTheBid Campaign, which calls for Paralympic sailing to be reinstated for the 2028 Los Angeles Paralympic Games. “Sailing is a special sport because once you are on the water, disabilities are set aside,” Symonds explained. 

Symonds hasn’t had the opportunity to sail at the Paralympics since he started sailing the Hansa 303 after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

“Despite my motor neuron condition, I can still compete with able bodied people since the skills are the same.” The proof is in the results, with Symonds winning all three of today’s races. 

As Vice Chair of the Para World Sailing Committee, David Staley has been a key driver in lobbying for the re-introduction of sailing on the Paralympic slate.  

“There is huge aspirational value in the inclusion of sailing at the Paralympic Games,” Staley shared. 

“Exclusion of sailing from the Paralympic Games has meant that the sailors’ able-bodied counterparts can aspire to the Olympics as the pinnacle event within the sport of sailing, whereas those with a disability have had this taken away from them.” 

Wing foil fleet on the start line.
Wing foil race start. Pic – Beau Outteridge

The future of sailing can also be found in the youth of the sport, who have enthusiastically returned to racing the 29er, 420, iQFOiL, Techno 293 and ILCA 5 classes at Sail Melbourne 2022. 

Windsurfing coach David Bell has a passion for creating a pathway for youth sailors in the class. 

“It’s about creating an inclusive environment for anyone who wants to have a go, and then supporting them in a competitive environment,” Bell explained. 

Bell emphasised the importance of a clear pathway for youth sailors, as well as creating a culture that keeps them engaged. 

“To foster the next group of champions, the pathway is really important to ensure they learn the right things and have a good tribe of kids around them with an exciting culture.”

The Tasars, RS100s, Wing foil and Waszp classes also wrapped up racing today. 

Tomorrow’s final day of racing is set to decide winners for the rest of the fleets, with the 49er class one to watch. Jim Colley and Shaun Connor from New South Wales lead Queensland pair and Sail Sydney champions Tom Needham and Joel Turned by a solitary point.

Sail Melbourne is supported by the Victorian Government.

Australian Sailing Team & Australian Sailing Squad results:

ILCA 7 (10 boats)

1st: Matt Wearn (1), 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 – 7 pts

ILCA 6 (28 boats)

1st: Zoe Thomson 1, 3, 1, (10), 1, 1, 5, 1 – 13 pts

3rd: Mara Stransky 5, (RAF), 9, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2 – 25 pts

7th: Casey Imeneo (8), 2, 7, 6, 7, 8, 6, 5 – 41 pts

Mixed 470 (7 boats)

1st: Chris Charlwood & Amelia Catt 1, 2, 1, (2), 1, 1, 1, 1 – 6 pts

2nd: Nia Jerwood & Conor Nicholas 2, 1, 2, 4, 2, (8), 2, 2 – 15 pts

49er (6 boats)

1st: Jim Colley & Sean Connor 4, (7), 1, 3, 3, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3 – 28 pts

2nd: Thomas Needham & Joel Turner (7), 1, 7, 2, 1, 4, 3, 4, 1, 4, 1, 1 – 29 pts

4th: Tom Burton & Simon Hoffman 1, 5, 4, 5, 2, 2, 5, 3, 2, 5, (6), 2 – 36 pts

5th: Jack Ferguson & Max Paul 3, 2, 3, 6, 4, 6, (DNF), DNC, DNC, 2, 2, 4 – 46 pts

49erFX (5 boats)

1st: Laura Harding & Annie Wilmot 1, 1, (2), 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1 – 15 pts

2nd: Tess Lloyd & Dervla Duggan 2, 3, 1, 4, 1, 2, 1, (OCS), 1, 4, 1, 3 – 23 pts

Wind Foil (21 boards)

1st: Grae Morris (3), 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3 – 15 pts

For the full results, see: https://sailingresults.net/?ID=81250

By Australian Sailing

Pantaenius Sailing
M.O.S.S Australia
Sun Odyssey 380
Lagoon 51
Ronstan
Coral Sea Marina Resort
West Systems 2