Parakai's World Championship Winner by Pauline Mee
The “How was your Easter?” question doesn’t usually get the response “I went to Australia, turned 50 and won a world championship!” but, for Helena Horswell of Parakai, that’s exactly what she did!
Sailing solo in her access liberty boat in 30 knot winds, Helena was the only competitor n her class to complete day two of the five days of racing off the coast of Sydney where 120 sailing
enthusiasts from nine countries competed in this bi-annual event.
The competition featured both able- bodied and disabled competitors, as moving your body weight is not required in the sailing of the access liberty boat, so the boat design allows, excuse the pun, everyone to ‘compete on an even keel.’
The boats can tip almost onto their sides and still be sailable as they’re among just a few boats in the world to have a double rudder. Helena describes the boat being so far over that her ear is brushing the water and passing other boats in the 30 knot winds where all you could see were “heads down and bailers tipping out water”.
Thriving on “being out there challenging your own limits”, Helena was one of only eight kiwis to compete in the event.
“Sailing is easy” she says “compared to the huge physical exertion involved in pulling the boat on and off trailers and ramps”. A task that, at four foot seven and just 65kgs, often takes more time and effort than the sailing AND, as if that wasn’t enough, Helena does not have a road trailer to move her boat on so has the double effort of heaving it, with its 72kg keel, onto a beach trailer which she then has to lug up onto a standard road trailer. Come on guys, isn’t there someone out there who can design and build a road trailer to suit this style of boat?
Helena jokes that “access boats were not originally designed to race but they were made in Ozzie and Ozzies will race anything!”
Helena had kept very quiet about day one of racing, Easter Monday, being her 50th Birthday. She says that the winning of the 2012 Access World Sailing Championships “hasn’t really ‘sunk’ in”. Helena hopes to defend her title in San Francisco in 2014 but will need the help of sponsors and her community to do this.
If Helena’s inspired you and you want to let her know then email firstname.lastname@example.org