SKUDs set to go further
Jan Apel went to the Paralympics to go hard and hopefully bring home a medal.
Unfortunately that goal remains unfulfilled but there are plenty of other positives to take from the experience the Pakuranga sailor says.
Apel, 61, competed at the Games as part of a two-person crew in the SKUD 18 yachting class.
She and West Auckland team-mate Tim Dempsey achieved good results at regattas earlier in the year and hoped to carry that form into the Games.
In the end the pair managed 10th overall, in the process dropping four places down the world rankings.
Although a disappointing result Apel says the platform has now been set for future efforts.
"We haven't had a total debrief yet but we will try and pinpoint things that weren't as successful as we thought they would be," she says. "We're in the top 10 and are happy we are there but we dropped from sixth to 10th, which is quite massive and wasn't expected.
"There are lots of things to be discussed and thought about."
But she is hoping their efforts have paved the way for future sailing success.
This year was the first time New Zealand had entered a sailing team at the Paralympics since Sydney 2000, and Apel was the first Kiwi woman sailor to compete.
She says the biggest challenges were the step up in intensity and the lack of fleet racing experience they had.
How to better prepare for such intense competition is another factor to be looked at.
"There was no learning curve to it, it was straight vertical," she says of Paralympic racing. "We thought it would be the same standard as the world champs but the intensity was way beyond that."
Apel is undecided about continuing on to Brazil in 2016.
"I'm not sure if my body will hold up for that long." But says she will keep sailing until someone else is ready to take her place.
"It would be really good if this was the platform to build and expand on. It seems sensible to do that and encourage as many people to be involved; you never know what's out there or who's out there.
"I want to expose the SKUD throughout the country and make people aware of what's available to them as far as disabled sailing goes.
"The groundwork is done, now we have to go that bit further."
To learning more about disabled sailing go to sailability.org.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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