Helena Lucas returns to 2.4mR racing for the first time since 2012 triumph. Paralympic champion Helena Lucas will be putting a ‘whirlwind’ seven months behind her when she steps back into 2.4mR action for the first time since winning 2012 gold at next week’s ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres, France (22-27 April).
Lucas, who was crowned Britain’s first Paralympic sailing champion since the sport became part of the full Paralympic Games programme in 2000, will be back in competition for the first time since her triumphant display in Weymouth and Portland last summer, and admitted she’s looking forward to getting her 2016 campaign underway.“It’s bizarre because in some ways [the Games] does seem like ages ago, but when you think it’s actually more than half a year, it’s like ‘wow’!” the 37-year-old explained. “So much has happened since then, it has been a whirlwind. I don’t think I’ve really had time to stop and absorb it all!”
“I think after all the hype off the back of winning my gold medal, I feel like I’m ready to get my feet back down on the ground and start going sailing and back to the slightly more ‘familiar’ parts of my life – focussing on sailing and training and all that goes with that!”
Although Lucas achieved her ultimate dream by winning Paralympic gold in front of her home crowd last year, the lure of gold in Rio remains as strong as ever, and she feels she has plenty more left in the tank.
“There wasn’t any hesitation as to whether to continue [to Rio] or not, because we just felt there was so much more to do,” said the Portland-based, Redhill-born sailor.
“We’d run out of time [for London], but there was more to give, more to do and it just seemed like such a shame to throw everything away that we’d already done without having gone down the other alleyways that we hadn’t had the chance to explore for 2012.
“That’s the trouble with sailing campaigns – there’s never enough time! It’s your biggest enemy!” laughed Lucas, whose silver medal at the 2012 Hyeres World Cup regatta sealed her selection to ParalympicsGB.
“It’ll be really good to just get back out there on the water and see everybody again. I haven’t seen the other 2.4mR sailors for a little while so it’ll be nice to see all those faces and just get back into the routine of things.
“My aim for the week is just really to focus on the racing and tactics and getting settled back into it again. It’s been a while, but I’m hoping it’ll be like riding a bike!”
Joining Lucas in the 2.4mR fleet for Hyeres will be Megan Pascoe, who will be aiming for a third straight World Cup podium finish to add to her gold at the Miami event in January and silver earlier this month in Palma.
Meanwhile Alison Young and Giles Scott will be looking to continue their winning ways in the Laser Radial and Finn events at this fourth and final stage of the 2012-13 Olympic Classes world tour, which kicked off at Melbourne in December.
Both Britons claimed gold amid some close contests in Palma, while windsurfer Bryony Shaw will be aiming for a third podium finish of the year to add to her World Championship silver in February, and World Cup silver in Palma.
In the 470 men’s event there’s a return to action for double Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers, racing for the first time with his new crew, the two-time World Champion Elliot Willis, while Rogers’ former crew Joe Glanfield and his new helm Luke Patience will look to build on a solid start to their new partnership in Palma where they claimed bronze at the first event together.
Finn world silver medallist Ed Wright has his first competitive foray back in the heavyweight dinghy class since the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in June last year, and Britain’s Paralympic trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas will also have their first outing since the 2012 Games this week in the Sonar event.
Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre will look to continue the momentum of Palma, their first regatta together at which they won silver, into their second World Cup event as a team next week, while Dave Evans and Ed Powys will have their sights on a second podium finish of the year in the 49er event. They claimed bronze in Palma, with Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes just missing out on the podium spots in fourth.
British Sailing Team crews in the 49erFX and Nacra 17 classes will continue their education in the new Olympic classes for Rio.
The 49erFX squad is currently operating on a rotation system, so will sail in different combinations in Hyeres to those in Palma. Charlotte Dobson teams up with Mary Rook, Penny Clark with Sophie Ainsworth, Kate Macgregor with Pippa Taylor and Frances Peters with Nicola Groves.
Nick Thompson will fly the GB flag in the Laser event, while development squad RS:X windsurfer Tom Squires will be aiming to build on his solid run Palma where he made his first ever World Cup medal race.
Click here for the full British Sailing Team line-up in Hyeres.
Racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, runs from Monday 22 April, with the final medal deciders on Saturday 27 April.
For the latest news and information, visit www.britishsailingteam.com follow us on Twitter (@BritishSailing) for race updates during the regatta.