Hosts Brazil automatically qualified for the 2016 Summer Paralympics by virtue of being hosts. At last year’s World Championships in Halifax, Canada, several countries qualified SKUD 18 boats with the final decision as to who would be on those boats up to the NPC. Countries that earned qualifying berths in various classes included Australia, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, and the United States.
Australia’s Liesl Tesch and Daniel Fitzgibbon are almost certainly going to be chosen to represent their country in Rio. The duo won gold at the 2014 World Championships, and are reigning Paralympic gold medalists. As of the March 2015 rankings though, they are ranked seventh in the world. Their ranking is down since April 2014 when they were ranked fifth in the world. There was a year and a half period where the pair were unranked. In July 2012, they had their highest ever international ranking when they were second. In August 2011, they were ranked eighth in the world. In December 2010, Daniel Fitzgiboon sailed with Rachael Cox, and the pair were ranked fourth in the world.
If something happens and the pair is not chosen, Australia has sailors waiting in the wings including Amethyst Barnbrook and Brett Pearce, who are currently ranked ninth in the world, and Peter Beard and Rachael Cox who are ranked 12th in the world. Cox, sailing with Fitzgibbon, has ranked as high as fourth in the world. Without Fitzgibbon, she has ranked as high as ninth when she sailed with Jamie Dunross in August 2011.
What events these sailors have been competing at in the past three months can be difficult to track. Garda and Trentino Olympic Week, which took place earlier this month and had a SKUD 18 event, has no ISAF results published on their website. ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères did not have SKUD 18 on their program. Trofeo Sar Princess Sofia, which took place in Palma de Majorca in late March and early April of this year, does not list results on the ISAF website for this class despite appearing on the program on ISAF’s website and the event is not referenced in the results of the organizers website. Oceanbridge Sail Auckland Regatta in New Zealand in March had this class on their program, but only New Zealand competitors took part.
The country has been fairly active in this class, with its sailors participating in a number of events in the past few years including the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne, 2014 Sail Sydney, 2013 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland Regatta, 2014 IFDS Combined World Championships, 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne, 2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne.
Australia has good history in this event, and should be automatically assumed to be potential medal contenders. The country won silver at the 2008 Summer Paralympics and claimed gold at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.
If you’re interested in following Australian sailing on Facebook, there are a number of pages you can watch including https://www.facebook.com/pages/List-of-Australian-Paralympic-sailing-medalists/452506508105929 , https://www.facebook.com/MattBugg2.4mracing , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailability-ACT/610501408992701 , https://www.facebook.com/sailabilityAW , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailability-Australia/118919774860222 , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailability-Callala/526057440793169 , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailability-Gosford/122434247840473 , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailability-Manly/457800940925743 , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailability-NSW-Port-Macquarie/734026356689620%20, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailability-Penrith-Lakes/135091969905879, https://www.facebook.com/SailabilityPortStephens , and https://www.facebook.com/shorncliffesailability , https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sailability-Victoria/144800372245585 .