The Para World Sailing Championships kicked off yesterday, Wednesday 21 June, in Kiel, Germany. There are fresh faces competing at the event though, thanks to World Sailing’s Paralympic Development Program (PDP).
Sailors travelled from all over the globe to attend the Program that was held from 17 – 19 June 2017. The seven attendees made their journeys from Chile, Singapore, Portugal, Latvia, South Africa, Turkey and Namibia.
The specialist clinic, hosted by expert coaches Matt Grier and Rob Holden, was held ahead of the Para World Sailing Championships at the Kiel Schilksee Olympic Centre, host venue for the Munich 1972 Olympic Sailing Competition.
One sailor who is seizing the opportunity is 18-year-old Robert Glover, from the African nation of Namibia.
A beaming Glover, says, “The Paralympic Development Program has been brilliant. It has been so informative. It has really given me a new aspect on sailing and I am having a great time and every day I am learning.
“When I sail back home, I don’t really have a coach and therefore I am mainly self-taught. The coaching from Matt and Rob has been very insightful, not just for me but for everyone else. Even those who have coaches are learning lots of new skills and techniques.”
Glover was recommended for the Program by World Sailing Regional Development Manager, Rob Holden.
Holden reminisces, “He actually came along to an Emerging Nations Program, I was running, in South Africa in the Laser, where all other participants were able-bodied.
“He was clearly a talented guy and was super competitive. We decided to invite him along to the PDP here in Kiel because it would give him the best opportunity to be successful and potentially pave the way for a Paralympic journey.
“We have high hopes for him due to his great positive attitude and he is a real thinker when it comes to reading the course and his competitors.”
World Sailing decided to hold the PDP in the build-up to an international competition to give the participants the full large regatta experience.
The clinic has provided the sailors with the opportunity to understand how to prepare for a big event and the processes that must be completed.
Holden, explains, “This PDP we have been doing prior to an event, so we have been focussing on preparation for a big event. “Most these guys have never taken part in a competition of this size so things like boat preparation, getting used to all the boats around you and the more complex rules.
“They are also learning how to go through the registration process and we hope this will be a good preparation for attending big events in the future.”
On the benefit of clinics like this, Holden continued, “Sailing has a lot to offer for people with disabilities because it’s a wonderful sport where people with abilities and disabilities have the same playing field.
“But in some nations, there is very little offered to people with disability. So, the PDP is really offering that opportunity for people to participate and highlighting to different nations that the sport of sailing is out there and amazing for people with disabilities.”
All seven of the sailors attending the PDP are now competing in the Hansa 303 at the Para World Sailing Championships.
Portuguese sailor, Guilherme Ribeiro says, “I feel that it will be the biggest thing I have done in my sporting life. I never imagined four years ago that I would be at the Worlds – it is fantastic. I am here to sail and I will give it my best.”
Whilst Namibian, Glover admits, “I’m feeling nervous about entering the competition. I came here with no real expectations but I’m confident and whatever happens, happens.
“Just to be here is a privilege and I’m having a great time and learning every day. Even if I come last, I will have learned.”