August 30 - Paralympic bronze medallists Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell of Great Britain have claimed their fifth straight SKUD world title in emphatic fashion at the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS) World Championships in Kinsale.
Despite struggling off the start earlier in the five-day regatta, the British pair finally made the first turning mark ahead of their Italian rivals Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanotti today to win both races and finish six points clear of Gualandris and Zanotti, who claimed silver.
But despite a convincing margin of victory, Rickham spoke of how the victory was more challenging that I may have appeared from the outside.
"It definitely wasn't as easy as it looked," she said.
"The Italians and the Canadians [John McRoberts and Jackie Gay] who were the other two medallists, pushed us pretty hard – particularly the Italians. "
"We didn't manage to get round the windward mark first until the very first race, so we were very proud of ourselves at that point."
"Our downwind speed has been really good and we've worked a bit on that so it's nice to see the fruits of the work paying off," she continued.
"Obviously we're massively excited to keep a clean sheet on the World Championship front and to bring another [title] home for the team.
It has been a successfull year for Rickham and Birrell, who have bagged both European and world titles this year, but after taking bronze in London last summer, there is only one thing on their minds now - taking gold at Rio 2016.
"We have that one elusive title that we need to get our hands on, so we have quite a lot of work on for the next three years to try and make that happen," said Rickham.
"But it's been a good week.
"It's been a tough week, but we've learnt a load of lessons so in terms of moving our sailing forward it's been really, really worthwhile being here in Kinsale so we're looking to the rest of the road to Rio."
Elsewhere, Britain's 2.4mR Paralympic gold medallist Helen Lucas was in contention for a medal but the steering mechanism on her boat failed in the first race of the day, thwarting her chances of making a charge for the podium.
Guus Bijlard of the Netherlands eventually took gold in the deciding 2.4mR race, consigning Germany's Heiko Kroger to silver, whilst Damien Seguin from France took third.
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