London 2012 Paralympic champion Helena Lucas has confirmed she will compete at the 2013 International 2.4 Metre class Open World Championships in Poole this September.
Lucas, 37, made history claiming gold at Weymouth and Portland last summer, becoming the first ever female winner of the Paralympic 2.4mR class title and Britain's first ever Paralympic sailing gold medallist.
Now Lucas, who is based in Dorset, will pit her wits against the world's top 2.4mR sailors – both able-bodied and disabled, male and female - when the 2013 2.4mR Open Worlds take place at The Poole Yacht Club from 6 - 14 September 2013.
The only woman in the London 2012 2.4mR fleet, Surrey-born Lucas dominated the Paralympic event on home waters, winning four out of her 10 races and clinching victory with an impressive nine-point cushion over second-placed Heiko Kroger (GER).
The Skandia Team GBR and Team Volvo for Life sailor admits it was the lure of trying to win another major title close to home which led to her entering this year's 2.4mR Open Worlds.
Lucas said: "I'm only doing a handful of 2.4mR events this year but I always really wanted to try to fit the Open Worlds in if we could work my schedule around it. Gladly we have!
"There is something incredibly special about competing on familiar waters and I've got a lot of good friends within the 2.4mR class who have been so supportive of me over the years, so I'm delighted to have signed up.
"The Open Worlds are an almost unique event as they showcase the accessibility of the 2.4mR as a boat that can be sailed equally well by both able-bodied and disabled sailors. I'm really looking forward to mixing it up in what is always a fiercely-competitive fleet."
The International 2.4mR is a keelboat but that has the fingertip feel of a dinghy. The sailor sits facing forwards in the 'cockpit' of the boat with all controls within arms' reach, so the sailing is more strategically and tactically demanding than physically. The boat is also insensitive to different sailor sizes, as body weight is always close to its centre of gravity.
Lucas was born with no thumbs and limited extension in her arms. She controls her boat with a tiller and foot pedals, using the pedals for manoeuvres so that she has both hands free to pull all the ropes. Going in straight lines she switches over to using the tiller.
As well as the 2012 Paralympic champion, Skandia Team GBR's Megan Pascoe - arguably Lucas' biggest rival in the battle for selection for Rio 2016 - has also confirmed her 2.4mR Open Worlds entry. Pascoe won bronze at the 2012 2.4mR Open Worlds in Italy last September, a result she described as "the best of my career to date."
Entries for the 2013 International 2.4 Metre class Open World Championships opened two weeks ago and already the event has attracted entries from as far afield as Australia, in the shape of London 2012 Paralympian, Matt Bugg, as well as Norway, Sweden and Finland.
For more information about, or to enter the 2013 International 2.4 Metre class Open World Championships visit www.24mworlds2013.co.uk