Tasmanian sailor Matt Bugg has won the gold medal in the Paralympic 2.4 Norlin One Design class at the Sailing World Cup Hyéres regatta in France, his best-ever international result.
In a significant lead-up to the Rio Paralympic Games, Bugg ended the eight-race regatta early tday with a win and second place, outsailing many of his likely competitors at Rio, including London 2012 Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas.
The Hobart sailor, who became a paraplegic in a board skiing accident in Europe, won two of the eight races at Hyéres, had three seconds, a third, a sixth and a seventh, his discard race.
He is the current Australian open champion in the 2.4 class and in January finished second in the open world championship conducted by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania on the River Derwent in January.
Sailing was delayed for three hours before racing got underway in light, unsteady conditions before the heavier mistral conditions came in, eventually dying out late in the afternoon.
Bugg revelled in the conditions, as he has done throughout this regatta in which he has led from start to finish, notching up a scoreboard of 1-3-2-2-6-(7)-1-2 to finish eight points clear of Bjermar Erikstad (NOR) with Damien Sanquin (FRA) third overall.
Interviewed at the end of the Hyéres regatta, Bugg said: “I started the event with a win on day one, and managed to stay on top of the leader board for the rest of the week.
“We had a mix of conditions, we had light air and heavy air. I think it was a good test of an all-round sailor this week.
“RIo is what I have been working for, for the last four years. (He placed seventh at the London 2012 Paralympics).
“To come out and start my European season with a win will give me confidence leading into my next major regatta, which is the World championships, and ultimately the really important one, the Paralympic Games in September,” Bugg added.
Australia’s Olympic sailors also competing at Hyéres have strong prospects of adding to the team’s medal tally in the medal racing today.
Tom Burton leads the Laser dinghy class while Jake Lilley heads the Finn class. In the 470 men, Matthew Belcher and Will Ryan are second overall, as are Will Phillips and Sam Phillips in the 49ers.
1 May 2016