Kiel haul

The cream of New Zealand’s and Australia’s Olympic dinghy sailors put their stamp one of the biggest European regattas of the season.

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Stand-out results at Kiel Week were gold to young Kiwi sailors Josh Junior in the Finn, and to Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, who took out the 49erFX.

Australia’s 470 world champions Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, also captured a hard-earned gold medal.

Most of the sailors were using Kiel Week as their final regatta before the upcoming sailing world championships in Aarhus and will feel heartened ahead of the pinnacle event of the year.

On top of the two medals, other New Zealanders performed well with Andy Maloney finishing fourth in the Finn and Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders pipped for bronze in the Nacra 17 by one point. Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox (8th men’s 470), Josh Porebski and Trent Rippey (7th 49er), Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn (8th 49er) and Liv Mackay and Micah Wilkinson (10th Nacra) also achieved top-10 results.

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Junior went into the day only one point behind Great Britain’s Ed Wright in the heavyweight dinghy but three other sailors also had hopes of claiming gold, including Andy Maloney who started the day in third, so he couldn’t afford to focus on only one rival.

Junior didn’t get a great start but did his best to stay in phase upwind and then find more pressure on the downwinds and came through to finish fourth in the medal race.

“I sailed a bloody good race in super shifty conditions,” said Junior, who is working closely with Maloney as they build towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“This regatta has been great for Andy and I and shows the work we have been doing over the last few months is starting to come together for both of us.

“It feels good to win, just because it validates that what we are doing is working and we’ll look to keep improving. We’re really happy with how things are going. It’s not really even about the results but about how we are moving forward.”

Maloney and Meech have also proved they’re in good form in 2018 and their win at Kiel Week comes on the back of gold at their last regatta at the World Cup in Hyeres and silver at the Princess Sofia regatta in Palma.

They went into the final day with a 4.5-point lead over their nearest rivals and, although they finished second in the double-points top-10 medal race, it didn’t exactly go to plan.

“Unfortunately, it was a bit of a come-from-behind race so we didn’t really execute our plan for the first half,” Maloney said. “But it was really shifty and we managed to play the shifts well and got ourselves back in touch with the fleet and we had a really good downwind as well.

“It kind of summed up the week. You had to keep trying because it was never over until it was over.

“It’s always good to come away with the win and helps the confidence ahead of the worlds as well. We are starting to get our processes working well and working well as a team so it feels like things are clicking. It will be good to keep the momentum going through to the worlds.”

Preparation and focus under pressure proved the decisive factors in the win by Australia’s Mat Belcher and Will Ryan.

Nacra 17 pair Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin sailed their new boat to a silver medal. Australian 49er crew David Gilmour and Joel Turner secured a top 10 finish in their 90-boat fleet, as did Jake Lilley, who overcame a slow start to the regatta to finish 8th overall in the 69-boat Finn fleet.

Meanwhile, in the concurrently-run Laser Radial Men’s World Championship, Australian Youth Team sailor Zac Littlewood secured a dominating and impressive win and shared space on the podium with fellow Aussie Caelin Winchcombe, who won the final two races of the regatta to claim a bronze medal (separate media release to come).

Olympic silver medallists Belcher and Ryan entered their Medal Race three points behind leaders Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom of Sweden, but won the double points finale to ensure top spot by 11 net points.

The pinnacle annual event on the sailing calendar, the world sailing championships, get underway in in Aarhus, Demark from 30 July.

sailing.org/2018-world-championships

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