The following article was written by Camron Slessor in The Advocate. We wish Chris smooth sailing and hope he brings home the cup.
Chris Symonds believes preparation will be key when he competes on the world stage later this month.
The Wynyard Yacht Club member will travel from the North-West Coast to Germany to test his skills and compete against some of the best sailors in the world.
The 2017 Para World Sailing Championships will be held in Kiel, Germany from June 21-26 with Symonds to be joined by coach and support Mike Darby on the trip abroad.
Symonds has Kennedy’s Disease which is a progressive Motor Neuron condition effecting muscles throughout the body and currently there is no cure or treatment.
He will compete in the Hansa 303 male division at the event where there are 32 entrants from 26 different countries, he will be the only Australian representative in his division and this will be the first Para regatta he has attended.
Symonds said he was excited to compete on the international stage and the event was huge on the sailing calendar.
“I’m very excited, it shows that you can compete on the world stage from Wynyard and the North-West of Tasmania, Wynyard is lucky to have so many skilled and supporting community members,” Symonds said.
“For Para-sailing, yes it’s huge.
“Outside of the Paralympics, which only come about every four years, this regatta is so important for world sailing who have gone to huge lengths to attract entrants from 40 nations across the two fleets.”
Symonds said he wouldn’t have been able to make the trip later this month without the support of the community and his coach for the competition, Mike Darby.
“Some emerging nations have free boat hire to get them there, realistically many people with disabilities are not so financial, so support is necessary for many.
“The support from Mike and many others is unbelievable. Considering I cannot even launch my yacht or lift myself out of it without support to do so.
“I am sailing for the community, not myself.”
As he prepared to face the best competition in the world, Symonds said to battle against able bodied athletes would be great for him to test himself.
“Preparation is the key. We have done all we can to be best prepared so whatever the result we should feel good about it,” he said.
“Those with Kennedy’s Disease around the world are supporting and watching closely.
“It shows that anything is possible even with this debilitating condition.
“There are not any other sports that would allow me to compete equally with able bodied persons.”
Darby will travel with Symonds as his coach and support for the trip with the pair long term rivals having sailed against each other for over 40 years.
Symonds said preparation and training had being full on for the pair since Easter with structured on water, off water, fitness, rules knowledge, boat and event preparation.
Symonds is the current Open Hansa 303 singles Tasmanian and Australian champion as well as the Asia Pacific and World Champion in the open category, meaning able bodied and mixed gender persons can compete