EXCITEMENT and tension are building for the Paralympic sailors who will be taking on the elements to represent Great Britain on Portland ’s waters in less than a fortnight’s time.

Skipper John Robertson , who races in the Sonar three-person keelboat class with crewmates Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas , said the whole British team were feeling ‘buoyed up’ by the home Games.

Robertson, 40, who is originally from Sunderland but has lived in Castletown for several years, said: “Obviously everyone’s really excited, a little bit nervous, as you’d expect. We're really buoyed up by the home Paralympics, really lifted by it.

“It’s quite something really, a home Games, probably a once in a lifetime deal although they’re saying they’d like to come back because Great Britain has done such a good job.”

The racing will be held on Portland Harbour from Saturday September 1 to Thursday September 6 and the British team will be vying for the country’s first ever Paralympic Sailing medals.

Alongside the Sonar trio, Portland’s Helena Lucas will be racing in the 2.4mR keelboat class while Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell will compete in the two-person Skud-18 keelboat class.

For the past few weeks, while the Olympic sailing venue was under lockdown, the ParalympicsGB contenders trained from Mylor, Cornwall where they were ‘treated like royalty’.

Now they are back in the borough and after a few days training at Weymouth Sailing Club, move into the British team accommodation RYA Portland House at Osprey Quay today for the final countdown.

All the Olympic branding at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy has now been replaced with the Paralympic symbols. Across the country, all the ParalympicsGB athletes will be wearing the same team kit, which Robertson said would be alternating white and blue T-shirts plus a couple of red ones.

Robertson joked that at the last Games in Beijing, China, where the same British athletes achieved selection, Birrell always managed to wear the wrong coloured T-shirt.

He added: “We got given three bags of everyday clothes and two bags of ceremonial kit.

“There was no room for it in the house!

“We’ve now moved it all into RYA Portland House, it’s all feeling pretty real.

“But it was pretty real anyway with the sailing venue being 100 yards from my house.”

Former Royal Air Force weapons technician Robertson, who sustained a spinal injury and was paralysed from the chest down in a motorcycle accident in 1994, watched the success of his Olympic teammates with pride.

He said: “Five medals is pretty good, it exceeded the team’s target and three of those silvers could easily have been gold.

“They all deserved that success, they’ve worked really hard. I’m just proud to be part of the team really.”

Since returning to Portland, Robertson has noticed an increased buzz of excitement.

He said: “When we go around Tesco supermarket, everyone’s asking if we’re in the Paralympics and wishing us luck.

“People are nice here anyway but the interest’s definitely grown.

Where to watch . . .

UNLIKE the Olympics , there will not be an official ticketed spectator site at Nothe Gardens for the Paralympic sailing events.

The public gardens will be open to all, although the best views for the races on Portland Harbour can be found from vantage points further along the coast, including parts of the Rodwell Trail, Sandsfoot Beach and Gardens.

Hamm Beach, which can be accessed from the Chesil Beach Visitors Centre and car park, is also a recommended viewing spot.

The Paralympic sailing competition will run from Saturday September 1 to Thursday September 6, from 11am daily.

Three gold medals will be up for grabs by the 80 competitors racing in the single-person 2.4mR keelboat, two-person Skud-18 keelboat and three-person Sonar keelboat classes.

The winner of each class will be those with the lowest point scores after 11 races – as those who come first, second and third score one, two, and three points etc.

Spectators can also watch the Channel 4 Paralympic Games coverage for free at the Innovation for Creative and Cultural Industries (ICCI) 360 arena by Weymouth Pavilion , on big screens inside and outside.