First of Two Selection Events for 2012 Paralympic Team
Port Charlotte, Fla. (January 16, 2012) – US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) members Jen French (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and JP Creignou (St. Petersburg, Fla.) scored a silver medal in the 8-boat SKUD-18 fleet at the 2012 IFDS World Championship. In a repeat finish of the 2011 Worlds, a gold medal went to GBR’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell, and a bronze to Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS). The regatta, which took place Jan. 10-15 in Port Charlotte, Fla., served as the first of two U.S. Selection events for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team.
American athletes will combine their overall score from this regatta with their result from US Sailing’s 2012 Rolex Miami OCR. The top-performing eligible athlete(s) in each Paralympic class will be selected to join the U.S. Paralympic Team to compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games, scheduled for set for August 29 – September 9, 2012 in Weymouth/Portland, England.
SKUD-18 Silver Medal
French and Creignou repeated their silver medal success from the 2011 Worlds, which were held at the Paralympic Sailing venue, in Weymouth.
“This feels pretty amazing,” said Creignou moments after arriving at the dock. Going into the final day of racing in second place behind the Australians, he explained that there were two goals in mind for the final race. “First, we had to beat the Australians to keep our second place,” he said. “And the other battle (going on) was our Trials, so we had to keep an eye on our competitors. The other teams had their own battles, which affected us as well. It was tricky, but it all went our way. We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
The team started the regatta the same way they won it: With a race win. In between they also won two other races and secured second tied on points with the Australians, only two points from first.
“We had a great battle with the Australians on the last two legs,” explained Creignou. “They were ahead of us and they were two boats ahead on the first windward leg. We were able to pass the one boat, the Israelis, but we were behind Australia. We were getting closer and by the last windward mark, they rounded ahead of us. We decided to attack them downwind. We always have good downwind speed. It is one of the things we have been working on for the past year. We’ve been really sailing fast downwind consistently and we knew we had a good shot at beating them. In downwind sailing the boat behind has the advantage to attack and we knew we had a chance.”
French and Creignou will take a few days off before preparing for Rolex Miami OCR. “Overall we are happy with our boat speed and our training plan,” said French. “It’s a matter of peaking at the right time. We are happy with our position coming out of the Worlds and we are focused on the Trials. We will approach Rolex Miami OCR the same way as Worlds. We feel we are prepared. There are a few things we need to work on, but we won’t take huge risks and focus on what we’re used to doing.”
Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (West Chester, Pa./Boca Raton, Fla.), who qualified the USA with their silver medal at the 2010 IFDS Worlds, finished in 6th.
In the 2.4mR class, 2008 Paralympic bronze medalist John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wis.) was the top-scoring American, finishing in 6th. Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.) and Charles Rosenfield (Woodstock, Conn.) finished in 8th and 12th, respectively. The USA qualified a 2.4mR berth at the 2011 Worlds. Damien Seguin (FRA) won the regatta.
In the three-person Sonar keelboat, USSTAG teams faced tough competition in the 12-boat fleet. Paralympians Paul Callahan (Fla./Newport,R.I.) Tom Brown (Castine, Me.) and Brad Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.) were the top American team, and finished the week with a 6th overall. The Norwegian team of Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen won the class.
Behind them in 9th place was the team of Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Brad Kendell (Clearwater, Fla.) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Me.); Andrew Fisher (Greenwich, Conn.), Mike Hersey (Hyannis, Mass.) and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.) in 11th; and Bert Foster (Minneapolis, Minn.), Jim Thweatt (West Sacramento, Calif.) and David Burdette (Lutherville, Md.) in 12th.
“This week we saw very strong competition in all three classes,” said USSTAG’s High Performance Director/Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.). “I’m very pleased with Jen and JP’s performance in the SKUD. They showed the way with their medal and we are looking forward to more metal in Miami at the Rolex OCR. We have some very competitive teams competing for the Paralympic spots, but we also have a lot of work to do before the Games start in Weymouth.”
About the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics
The US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics is managed by the United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing. The top boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class are selected annually to be members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. US Sailing supports these elite athletes with funding, coaching and training. The title sponsor of the team is AlphaGraphics; other sponsors include Rolex Watch USA, Atlantis WeatherGear, Sperry Top-Sider, LaserPerformance, Harken Team McLube, Trinity Yachts, New England Ropes, Group Experiential Learning and Bow Down Training.
Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country. For more information about US Sailing, please visit: www.ussailing.org. For more information about the US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Teams, please visit: http://olympics.ussailing.org.
Contact: Dana Paxton, US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, Tel: 401-683-0800 X615, firstname.lastname@example.org