500 days to the Paralympic Games

500 days to go

500 Days to go

Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy Marks 500 Days to the Paralympic Games

17th April, 2011 marks 500 Days to the Paralympic Games.  To celebrate the occasion the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), yesterday, invited the press to the 2012 sailing venue to talk to Helena Lucas.

Skandia Team GBR’s Helena Lucas is one of a few sailors who know what it is like to campaign for both the Paralympic and Olympic Games.  Nominated for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards in 2006, for her achievements in both Paralympics sailing and Olympic Sailing, the ever-enthusiastic Lucas was keen to talk about her move from Olympic to Paralympic sailing, training in Weymouth and Portland and why the Paralympics will be just as exciting as the Olympics. 

Helena, 35, was first introduced to sailing by her parents at the age of 8 and isn’t shy to admit that she initially hated it.  It wasn’t until a few years later when she was dinghy sailing in the warm, blue waters of Greece that she started to get the bug.  Now 23 years on and an Olympic campaign later, Helena is now on her second Paralympic campaign and the passion is definitely still there.

Initially apprehensive about making the move into the Paralympic class, Helena has since discovered the same buzz for competing at Paralympic level.  There are three Paralympic classes of which Helena sails the 2.4mR.  A 2.4mR is a keelboat roughly 4.7 metres in length with small sails which makes for a very technical sail.  Her boats are purchased for her by Sports Law Specialists Charles Russell who have continued their sponsorship for her 2012 campaign.   

The Paralympic classes don’t compete at some of the large Olympic regattas nor have their own Europeans.  Although Helena has a couple of key world cup events approaching in Hyeres and Medemblik every spare day will certainly be spent in Weymouth and Portland.  “The combination of clean winds, sheltered waters and weak tides provides an unrivalled venue for training”, Helena praises of the WPNSA facilities, “tactical racing in the harbour is going to bring the best out in every sailor come the Games.”  As the venue for the sailing competition at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the WPNSA has been transformed into a world class sports destination.  Helena remarks that, “the disabled facilities at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy are some of the best in the world.” 

London is expecting 4,200 competitors, the largest athlete participation ever in the Paralympics.  The same team responsible for delivering the Olympic Games will be delivering the Paralympic Games.  Although the two Games will each have their own unique feel, there will be no difference in terms of planning or delivery.  The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) are committed to finding ways to keep the festival spirit of the Olympic Games alive until, and beyond, the moment the Paralympians arrive in town to ensure that London and the UK’s celebrations continue throughout the Paralympics.  Helena is convinced that anyone watching the Paralympic sailing will be excited, inspired and thrilled: “The standard of sailing and professionalism at Paralympic level is on a par with the Olympic athletes.  The boats might be different but the racing will be as close and as exciting.”

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