Final opportunity to qualify USA for 2012 Paralympic Games in two classes
Weymouth, U.K. (June 29, 2011) – As the U.S. prepares to celebrate the long holiday weekend, 15 members of US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics are at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue preparing to compete in the 2011 International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) World Championship. Scheduled for July 3-8 in Weymouth, England and held in all three Paralympic classes– 2.4mR, SKUD and Sonar – the championship is expected to host 96 boats from 30 nations. In addition to this being an opportunity for USSTAG to gauge performance at the Paralympic sailing venue, it also serves as the final opportunity for the U.S. to qualify for a berth at the 2012 Games in the Sonar and 2.4mR classes.
“In late 2010 and early 2011 we focused a lot on training, both at home and abroad,” said USSTAG High Performance Director/Head Coach Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.) “The team’s focus is now on competition and performance. Sail for Gold, the ISAF Sailing World Cup event held in Weymouth, in June, and the IFDS Worlds are the first two events in our plan Our clear goal is to qualify the 2.4m and Sonar for the 2012 Paralympic Games and then continue using the speed gained during training and get better at racing around the course.”
“Our athletes have been working long and hard to produce results at this event,” said USSTAG Paralympic Coach Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.). “Our sailors have spent a significant amount of time training both at home and here in Weymouth, and most competed in Sail for Gold, the ISAF Sailing World Cup event held in Weymouth, in June.
Our confidence in the team to get the job done is quite high, and with 15 of our USSTAG national team of athletes, we hope not only to qualify the USA for all three disciplines, but to have our athletes stand tall on the podium!”
Competing in the 2.4mR (singlehanded boat) is returning world champion and 2008 Paralympic bronze medalist John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wis.) and Mark LeBlanc (New Orleans, La.), who finished 7th at Sail for Gold.
In the SKUD-18 (doublehanded boat), returning world silver medalists Scott Whitman (Brick, N.J.) and Julia Dorsett (Boca Raton, Fla.) join USSTAG teammates Jen French and JP Creignou (both St. Petersburg, Fla.). Both teams competed at Sail for Gold and finished 7th and 4th, respectively. Whitman and Dorsett’s performance in 2010 qualified the USA for the SKUD-18 berth at the 2012 Games.
In the three-person Sonar keelboat, three USSTAG teams are competing; Paralympians Paul Callahan (Fla./Newport,R.I.) Tom Brown (Castine, Me.) and Brad Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla.); Bert Foster (Minneapolis, Minn.), Mike Hersey (Hyannis, Mass.) and David Burdette (Lutherville, Md.); and 2008 Paralympian Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Brad Kendell (Clearwater, Fla.) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Me.). Doerr’s team has shown that they have the speed and talent to take on the best of the best in the Sonar class having posted finishes just off podium at French Olympic Sailing Week, in April, and Sail for Gold. “They are hungry for, and due for, a top three finish,” said Alison.
Please visit the USSTAG web site for action photos from the IFDS World Championship. For complete results, please visit the event web site: http://www.ifdsworlds2011.com. For the latest USSTAG news and updates, please follow the team on Facebook and Twitter.
The 2012 Paralympic Games will be held Aug. 31 – Sept. 5, 2012 in Weymouth, U.K.
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 Program and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, please visit: http://sailingteams.ussailing.org.