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PARALYMPIC GAMES: Helena's on the March to glory
Portland’s Helena Lucas continued her march towards Para-lympic glory in the single-handed keelboat class on day four of the home Games.
While Lucas revelled in the light winds in her 2.4metre boat, the conditions saw mixed fortunes for her ParalympicsGB teammates in the two-person Skud-18 and three-person Sonar keelboat classes.
Lucas, 37, admitted victory on home waters would banish the ghost of finishing seventh at the Beijing 2008 Games but said she could not think about the podium until the last race.
She is currently beating all the men in the 16-strong keelboat fleet and has accumulated just 13 points after eight races.
Her nearest rival Heiko Kroger of Germany is on 24 points while the third-placed Dutch sailor Thierry Schmitter is on 30 points, with three races to go.
The aim of the regatta is to end with the lowest possible scoreline – every first place counts as one point, second as two and so on.
Lucas said: “It was a another good day, a first and a fourth, in the second race I really had to do quite a lot of work.
“I didn’t have a great start.
“I was caught up with the Spanish guy who was over the starting line early, he happened to be windward of me. It took me a while to get back into the race and get going but then I picked them off one by one and I was pretty pleased to get a fourth.”
The first race of the day involved a battle on the finishing line with Canadian sailor Paul Tingley.
Lucas said: “It was a really close finish, at one point I thought Paul might have snuck in but I got a little puff and a nice wave and surged over the line.
“Every single point counts.”
Lucas revealed she writes down the wind headings on the side of her boat and that all the delays and restarts left her vessel looking like she’d been ‘doing mathematics’.
She added: “There were numbers everywhere. I'm lucky in having a bosun to clean the boat afterwards.”
Lucas admitted a win on home waters would be ‘absolutely amazing’ but said she was ‘making sure’ she did not think about getting on the podium just yet.
“I’ve just got to take each race at a time, stick to my processes.
“There’s no point thinking about it until the last race.”
She added: “I can’t wait to go out there again and have another good couple of races, then one race left on Thursday.”
Racing is scheduled to continue in the 2.4mR class at 11.10am in Portland Harbour. Postponements and abandoned races hampered play for four-time World Champions Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell, who slipped from second to third place on the Skud-18 leaderboard.
They are now on equal points with the second-placed USA team of Jen French and JP Creignou and, four points behind the fleet leaders Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch of Australia, with three races to go.
- PORTLAND'S Niki Birrell revealed he and Alex Rickham were reassured by their coach that gold was still within reach after a tricky day’s racing at the Paralympic Games.
The quadruple Skud-18 keelboat World Champions are four points behind the top spot as they go into the penultimate day of sailing races on home waters.
Birrell said their coach Marcus Lynch had given them a pep talk.
He said: “He told us that he’s proud of the effort we’re putting in all week.
“There’s still that gold medal to be won and we’ve got to keep going and believing.”
After scoring fourth and second in yesterday’s races following light-wind postponements, the ParalympicsGB duo are third overall on the 11-boat fleet leaderboard.
Birrell, 26, added: “The result only matters on Thursday, we’ve still got three races to go. We still want to win gold, it's looking difficult at this stage, four points behind, but we’ll sleep on it.”