Sailing: Silver show for GB stars

JUST MISSED OUT: Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell

JUST MISSED OUT: Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell

First published in Sport

BRITISH sailors came away with two silver medals and the maximum three qualifying berths for the 2016 Paralympic Games at the conclusion of the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships in Halifax, Canada.

Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, who train at the Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy, missed out on a sixth consecutive world title by the narrowest of margins in the two-person SKUD class, while Helena Lucas claimed silver in the 2.4mR class, just one point from overall winner Heiko Kroeger of Germany.

Their podium finishes, plus a fourth place by the British Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas, ensured that Great Britain earned qualification across the three Paralympic classes for the Rio 2016 Games at the first time of asking.

Defending SKUD world champions Rickham and Birrell finished their regatta tied on points with the Australian Paralympic champions Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, but lost on countback after the 11-race series.

The British Sailing Team duo went into the final day of the event three points adrift of the Australian pair, and went on the attack at the start of the final race in a bid to reduce the deficit – a move which came perilously close to paying off.

Meanwhile, Lucas also narrowly missed out on the top step of the podium in the one-person 2.4mR class, claiming her second straight World Championship silver.

She went into Sunday’s final day in a three-way battle for the title with Germany’s Kroeger and Damien Seguin of France and in spite of finishing ahead of her two key rivals in the final race, it was not quite enough to displace Kroeger at the top of the table.

Portland-based Megan Pascoe fought back to fourth place overall, after a difficult start to her regatta which saw her handed a black flag disqualification in the very first race of the series.

The duo will both have another shot at World Championship honours next month when the 2.4mR Open World Championships take place in Toronto.

In the three-person Sonar fleet, Robertson, Stodel and Thomas were denied the opportunity to improve upon their fourth place when a lack of wind made racing impossible on their course on the final day.

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