No Paralympic sailing for Tokyo

Disabled sailors in New Zealand are still reeling from the news that sailing will be removed from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

No Paralympic sailing for Tokyo
Paul Francis, who represented NZ at the London 2012 Paralympics, has seen his sport scrapped for Tokyo 2020

The New Zealand Paralympics team and Yachting NZ have expressed their extreme disappointment regarding the decision, which saw sailing and seven-a-side soccer removed from the final program for Tokyo 2020.

Paralympic sailing caters for athletes with a wide range of physical impairments including those with high-level disabilities such as quadriplegia.

Paralympics New Zealand fielded three sailors at the London 2012 games and hopes to increase its team for Rio 2016, with Tokyo also in their sights. Jan Apel and Tim Dempsey represented NZ in the two-person keelboat (SKUD-18) class, while Paul Francis competed in the 2.4m keelboat class. Dempsey is now sailing with Gemma Fletcher, and Brett Willlcock will also contest the 2.4m class. Other SKUD-18 teams hoping to qualify are Paul Wager/Rachel Shardlow and Helena Horswell/Mark Winters.

In the meantime, the Kiwi Gold sailing team has also been formed with the aim of qualifying for Rio 2016.
Former America's Cup sailors David Barnes and Rick Dodson have been training in a Sonar yacht, despite both battling Multiple Sclerosis.

Other teammates include Andrew May and Chris Sharp, who face Paralympic qualifying trials in Melbourne late this year and Dodoson told Trade-a-Boat their preparations had been progressing well.

The decision to scrap Paralympic sailing has also been condemned by the United Kingdom's Royal Yachting Association and US Sailing, with a campaign to reverse the decision underway, featuring petitions and a Reinstate Paralympic Sailing Facebook page.

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