A very Special Olympic Bronze for Team GB when Jamie Cairns and unified partner Darren MacGregor received bronze medals at their first World Games in Abu Dhabi this past week.
Cairns and MacGregor, from Renfrewshire, were awarded a Bronze Medal in the Division 2 fleet.
Their team mates Shannon McGhee and Laura Carrick were 4th in Division 3, while Lewis Nicolson sailing with Mick Kelly finished 5th, but of course the experience was much more than just the sailing.
It was certainly not conditions they were used to sailing in back home on Castle Semple Loch, where they started their journey through charity Able 2 Sail.
There were 15 countries with around 40-50 sailors competing on the water across four differing divisions in reefed down Bahia dinghies.
Bronze medallist Jamie Cairns said. “A few days we couldn’t actually sail because it was far too windy. We capsized once only that was hard to get back up, but the water was quite warm, well very warm. It’s been an amazing experience and I got bronze last night!”
As his unified partner Darren MacGregor (19) added. “The whole thing, the whole journey has been amazing and it has been the people that have really made it amazing on this trip.”
Lewis Nicolson looked very content and happy around the experience next to his unified partner Mike Kelly.
As unified partner Mike was steering alongside Lewis and he commented on the racing aspect. “The best and worst moment was being on the start line with 16 other racers, which was also a bit daunting at first, but really good fun.”
“The weather has been a big contrast with the most surprising thing being the wind, which has been very strong, we didn’t expect that. In the shore the hospitality has been amazing, really, no expense spared by the event organisers.”
RYA Sailability coordinator and Chief Instructor David Hill became Competition and Coaching advisor for the team, which gave him many roles in getting to the World Games this year.
“We have had endless laughs along the way mainly at each other. Overall it was a great experience, very long days in the heat but well worth it.
So now looking ahead the challenge is to get more people into this kind of sailing and develop crews for the other levels in Special Olympic Sailing, it’s only two years till the next national games in Liverpool and four until the next World Games in Berlin 2023.”
The Special Olympic Sailing Team are due to return this weekend to Scotland You can follow their progress on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @SOGBSailingTeam
To find out how you can get involved in accessible sailing throughout the UK visit www.rya.org.uk/go/sailability