Daily Report: U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team – Sept. 4

After a two-hour wait for wind on Portland Harbour, racing finally got underway on day four of the 2012 Paralympic Sailing Regatta. Jen French and JP Creignou had another impressive day in the SKUD-18 event (Two Person Keelboat), and moved up to 2nd overall. In the 2.4mR (One Person Keelboat), Mark LeBlanc stormed back with a pair of keeper race finishes to end the day in 6th, while  Paul Callahan, Tom Brown and Bradley Johnson moved into podium position, 3rd, in the Sonar (Three Person Keelboat). Two races were held in the SKUD-18 and 2.4mR, with one completed in the Sonar. Preliminary results: http://www.sailing.org/paralympics/london2012/results.php

SKUD-18: Jen French and JP Creignou

Jen French (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) won the day’s opeing race in the Two Person Keelboat event (SKUD-18). “Not a bad way to start the day after two abandoned races,” said French.

Although French and Creignou were in leading positions in both of the abandoned races, she pointed out that the day worked out in their favor. “You’d rather have the race committee do a fair job at the end of the day,” she said.

Sailors returned to the dock in the early evening. “It’s a long day and we’ll have a good long sleep tonight,” said French.

In the second race, race 8, they collected a 4th and are now tied on points with British team of Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, who are in 3rd place. Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) are four points ahead in first place.

2.4 Metre: Mark LeBlanc

In the One Person Keelboat event (2.4mR), Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.) had his strongest day of racing, to date, collecting two 3rd places. “It was a little tricky waiting around forever,” said LeBlanc. “The starts and stops were frustrating. We finally got two races off and I’m happy with how we did. We had clean starts and sailed well, and finished well.”

With all three events held on the same race course, none were immune to the shifting wind that caused delays. “It’s frustrating at times, but it happens,” he said. “It’s not in your control and you have to take what you get. That’s sailboat racing.”

After a disappointing day yesterday, LeBlanc was happy with today’s performance and positioning. “I’m moving up, which is good,” he said. “That’s the plan.”

Sonar: Paul Callahan, Tom Brown and Bradley Johnson

Although there was only one race held in the Three Person Keelboat (Sonar) event, Team USA’s Paul Callahan (Cape Coral, Fla./Newport R.I.), Tom Brown (Castine, Me.) and Bradley Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.) held their podium position. They finished race 7 in 5th place and are now 3rd overall in the 14-boat fleet. Racing began, but was then abandoned due to unstable wind direction.

“It was one of the shiftiest days I’ve ever sailed in a decade, but full credit goes to my team mates Tom and Bradley who have been fantastic all week,” said Callahan. “We’ve been gelling as a team and peaking at the right time. We handled the breeze and the shifts well. It was nice to finally sail a good hard race once the breeze filled in.”

The Team is four points behind second-place team from Germany and 15 points from the first-place team from The Netherlands.

On Wed., Sept. 5 the race committee will run three races in the Three Person Keelboat (Sonar), with two races in the One Person Keelboat (2.4mR) and Two Person Keelboat (SKUD-18).

Meet the Team – Jen French & JP Creignou

Jen & JP both hail from St. Petersburg, Fla. and share a passion for sailing at the highest level of the sport. Together they won back-to-back silver medals at the International Federation for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) World Championships (2012-11). While this is Jen’s first Paralympic Games, JP is a 2004 Paralympic bronze medalist (Athens) in the Sonar.

As a result of a snowboarding accident in 1998, Jen became a quadriplegic from a C6-7 incomplete spinal cord injury. Prior to her injury, she was recreationally active with such sports as canoeing, snowboarding, sailing, fly fishing, scuba diving/snorkeling and cycling. After her injury, she continues to participate in all of those activities. She is the first women to receive implanted muscle stimulation technology, a neural prosthesis, developed at the Cleveland FES (Functional Electrical Simulation) Center. Prior to her disabling injury, Jen was introduced to windsurfing as a college student while on her second date with her current husband, Tim. As a quadriplegic, she actively races in the Sonar class, both able-bodied and disabled.

JP started sailboat racing in the 470 when he was 16-years-old and has continued sailing competitively ever since. After becoming legally blind with a degenerative disease of the retina, he was forced to give up individual sports such as skiing and tennis. He embraced disabled sailing in 1997 with a renewed passion for the sport and a drive for competition. He is the 2006 gold medalist at IFDS Blind Sailing World Championship and two-time gold medalist at the U.S. National Blind Sailing Championship.

Follow the U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team

About the Paralympic Sailing Regatta

The Paralympic Regatta will be held September 1-6, 2012, in the towns of Weymouth and Portland, which are located on the southern coast of England, approximately 120 miles southwest of London. Eleven races are scheduled on Portland Harbour, with two races per day September 1-5 and one race on September 6. A total of 80 sailors will compete in three events: 2.4mR (16), SKUD-18 (22) and Sonar (42).

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