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Smallfield sailing ace competing in world championship
1:00pm Thursday 12th September 2013 in Local News
A Smallfield man was this week due to line up in competition against Surrey’s London 2012 Paralympic sailing golden girl, Helena Lucas.
Peter Gregory, 64, was due to go head-to-head with 80 athletes, including Redhill-raised Lucas, from 12 nations at Poole Yacht Club in Dorset.
They were taking part in the 2013 International 2.4 Metre Class World Championship, running from Tuesday (September 10) until tomorrow (Friday, September 13).
The 2.4mR is arguably best known in Britain for being the Paralympic single-handed boat, although internationally, the class is predominantly sailed by able-bodied athletes.
It is the unique pitting of able-bodied and disabled sailors against one another on a level playing field that gives the event global appeal.
With the 2013 Worlds event tagline ‘Where everyone is equal,’ some of the world’s top Paralympians, including the British Sailing Team’s London 2012 2.4mR champion, Lucas, and Rio 2016 hopeful, Megan Pascoe, were due in action in Poole, alongside the current able-bodied World Champion, Peter Andersson from Sweden.
Peter Gregory, who suffers from a condition called Cauda Equina, a spinal cord injury he has had for more than 40 years as a result of farm working in his teens, has been sailing the 2.4mR class for four years after joining Frensham Pond Sailability, near Farnham, in 2009.
In that time he has competed in a number of 2.4mR World Championship events and the annual Sail for Gold Regatta, racing alongside the world’s top Paralympians on the London 2012 sailing regatta waters of Weymouth and Portland.
Peter said that sailing the 2.4mR has opened up a new world to him.
He said: “I did a couple of years' dinghy sailing in my late teens, but I only crewed briefly in competitive sailing. “The thing I love about 2.4mR sailing is the ability to compete in a sport where the physical condition of everyone is irrelevant.”
He said: “As well as great racing, you can build some very special friendships. “All I’m looking for from the Worlds is to have a great time and better my results from previous big events.”
As well as Peter and Helena, Surrey will be represented at the Worlds with Camberley's Simon Hill, who is the chairman of the UK 2.4mR Class Association, also once again taking his place on the start line.
Typically, 25% to 30% of an International 2.4mR Worlds fleet is classified with a range in type and severity of disability. However, the boat’s design – a stable keelboat which has the fingertip feel of a dinghy and is insensitive to sailor size - means every competing athlete, regardless of ability, age or gender, has just as much chance of claiming the top Worlds prize.
For more details about the 2013 International 2.4mR Class World Championships visit the event website at: www.24mworlds2013.co.uk