The 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competition has begun
Photograph:David Staley / IFDS
Australia's Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch and Great Britain's Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell opened up the Paralympic Sailing Competition with a race victory apiece on the first day SKUD18 racing in Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain.
Both crews finished behind each other in both races as they set an early marker in the race for gold, ending the day tied on three points.
Fitzgibbon and Tesch took the opening bullet after a race that saw the lead change hands throughout. The Australians held the early advantage before the Brits fought back to take the lead. On the final run the Australians overtook them and won Race 1 by just three seconds.
Tesch, competing in her first Paralympics as a sailor having previously represented Australia in wheelchair basketball, was happy with her day, "We had a great time out there on the water today. Sailing is tougher than basketball. It's far harder out there; you have to concentrate all the time."
The second race was led from start to finish by the Brits as they dominated the fleet. They reached the first mark with a 14 second lead and they never looked back, going on to win by a comfortable 17 seconds.
The Brits and Australians have been dominant leading up the regatta as Rickham said, "No surprises they are up there. We've been battling out with them for the past two years."
Canada's John McRoberts and Stacie Louttit end the first day on seven points and currently sit in the final podium spot. Jen French and JP Creignou (USA) are just one point behind them whilst Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti (ITA) and a further point behind.
The SKUD18 fleet is set to resume racing at 11:00 local time tomorrow on Portland Harbour.
1. Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) - 3pts
2. Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) - 3pts
3. John McRoberts and Stacie Louttit (CAN) - 7pts
4. Jen French and JP Creignou (USA) - 8pts
5. Marcos Gualandris and Marta Zanetti (ITA) - 9pts