Aspiring Paralympic Sailing duo Tim Dempsey and Gemma Fletcher have just completed their first international regatta. The pair started sailing together only 11 months ago, the only other regatta they have competed in was Sail Auckland, which they won. The team is using this regatta as a build up to the IFDS Worlds due to get under way in Halifax, Canada on the 19th of August. The Worlds are the first chance to qualify NZ for a place in the SKUD 18 at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, with 50% of the places up for grabs the Kiwi’s need to finish in the top 5 nations to secure a place for NZ. We still need donations to achieve our goal so PLEASE visit our fundraising page to make a tax deductible donation now www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/kiwiskudsailing
We finished the North American Championships in 5th place after 3 days of racing and 10 races. We were really wanting to finish in 4th place but reminded ourselves that this regatta was all about preparing for the Worlds and gauging the rest of the competition, there were a couple of the top teams not competing so we are under no illusion about the task ahead. The first two days of the regatta were sailed on the Halifax harbor in 6 – 14 knots, we had some great starts and found ourselves at the right end of the fleet having some very close racing with many of the top teams including AUS, CAN and GBR. We were very pleased with our boat speed and had we not made a couple of average decisions and got out of phase with the wind shifts we would have finished higher up the leader board. In one race we did beat the Brits who went on to win the regatta, we also managed to roll the Australians off the start which is always great for a Kiwi team. For me it was great to beat the Brits after 4 years of trying. Our best placing was 3rd in race 3. We struggled on the last day of sailing in 4 -6knts and found ourselves very uncomfortable at the back of the fleet. We had a great debrief and took some very good lessons from the final day. Over the next 6 days before the Worlds will be doing a bit of training with the British team, and others.
On the whole we are really pleased with our first International Regatta sailing together, we showed that we could mix it with the best, we have great speed and boat handling. Sailing is bit like putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle, miss out a few pieces or put them in the wrong place and the end result can be a bit average, we now have all the pieces we just need to put them all together for the Worlds.
A big thank you to all our supporters back home, we have funded this entire trip ourselves and without the amazing support we have received from families, friends, individuals, businesses, Sailability Auckland and our Club (Royal Akarana Yacht Club) we would not be here. To date we have raised $22,430 of our $24,500 budget we are still $2,070 short and really need to raise this before we check out of our accommodation on the 26th of August (we may have to clean all the rooms if we can’t pay our bill!!). If you can help we are offering people the chance to get their name on our boat during the Worlds for $180, we have space for around 11 more names so be quick. If $180 is a bit of a stretch any donation would be very greatly received. If your finances have taken a bit of a hammering you can support the team by liking us on Facebook www.facebook.com/kiwiskudsailing and sharing some of our posts. If you have not yet checked us out on Facebook make sure you do as we have posted some great videos and photos from the serious to the humorous series on “Canadian doors”.
Thanks heaps everyone from Kiwi SKUD Sailing.
Tim Dempsey (Helm)
Gemma Fletcher (Crew)
Rob Hielkema (Coach)