Sailing Paralympics: Winds shake up the leaderboard

NINE-POINT LEAD: Helena Lucas in action

NINE-POINT LEAD: Helena Lucas in action

First published in News by

Portland ’s Helena Lucas was star of the show when winds shook up the leaderboards on day three of the Paralympic sailing events.

Lucas, 37, scored two ‘bullets’ in the 2.4metre single-handed keelboat when racing got underway yesterday afternoon following early postponements due to a lack of wind.

She bounced back to top of the leaderboard with a nine-point cushion after slipping to third place on Sunday.

Lucas, of Fortuneswell , said she was happy not to let the incident in race four rattle her when a jury boat ruled she had pumped the vessel to go faster and enforced a 720-degree penalty turn.

She said: “It was an absolutely great day, obviously I’ve got to keep it in perspective, there’s still another five races to go.

“After yesterday’s disappointment in the second race, it’s great, I really made up for it today.”

After a dominant win in race five, Lucas made an impressive catch up in race six to claim another victory.

She added: “I’ve got to keep chipping away, keep my head down and working at it. Obviously it’s nice and I can take confidence from today, I know I’m fast in these conditions and the forecast looks like it’s going to stay light winds until the end of the regatta.”

Meanwhile her Paralympics GB teammates Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell won their first race then finished third to stay second overall in the 11-boat fleet.

The British duo are still just one point behind their Australian rivals Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, while the American team of Jen French and JP Creignou are just behind in third, with five races to go.

Birrell, 26, of Portland, said: “It’s all about staying calm now, we’ve done four and a half years of hard work, we’re not going to change anything now, we’ve just got to sail the boat the way we know how.

“We’ve got to take every opportunity on every leg and just try and go as fast as we can.”

Portland’s Sonar Team of John Robertson , Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas had a mixed day on the water, finishing fourth and then 16th in their two races to lie seventh overall.

But with just six points separating them from the silver medal position, Stodel said there was ‘everything to play for’.

She said: “Weymouth has delivered, it’s been shifty and all over the show, it’s certainly keeping our leaderboard exciting.

“It’s one of those venues which has always been exciting and leaves us playing a game, the scores are all over the place today.

“With six points between silver and seventh, it’s all to play for, it’s game on now.”

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