New Zealand sailors started the year in perfect fashion, winning both the boy’s and girl’s titles at the 29er world championships in Hong Kong.
Crystal Sun and Olivia Hobbs had already wrapped up the girl’s title before the final day as the only female crew in gold fleet, finishing 21st overall, but Francesco Kayrouz and Jackson Keon held their nerve to finish nine points clear of their nearest rivals, Australia’s Lachie Brewer and Max Paul.
Kayrouz and Keon sailed consistently well in gold fleet, never finishing outside the top four, and read the conditions well as they gybed early in the final two races to take advantage of a big right-hand shift.
“It sounds kind of cheesy but it hasn’t sunk in yet, but it feels good,” Kayrouz said. “The event’s been good. It’s been challenging and a bit nerve-racking at times, but it’s been a good send.”
Hong Kong served up some challenging conditions, and two days of racing were lost due to strong winds.
The final day started with fog and no breeze but it was near the upper limit when the first of four races for the gold fleet were sailed. The breeze moderated for the remaining two races.
Sun and Hobbs performed strongly to make gold fleet and knew they had won the title a couple of days ago.
“We feel pretty good, pretty excited, such a good feeling,” they said. “We have been very excited the last few days to be the only girls to make the cut into the gold fleet. It feels good to know that all our training and hard work has paid off.
“The event was pretty tricky with the wind, but it was really a great, fun event. The racing was pretty hectic. We had all sorts of competition but it was really fun and really enjoyable to race against other people in these tricky conditions.”
Seb Lardies and Scott McKenzie were the next best of the Kiwis, finishing in fifth overall and only one point off third. Lewis Anderson and Pat Morgan also finished in the top 10 in ninth overall.
Sophia Fyfe and Zelda Ladefoged were the third-placed girl’s team (14th in silver fleet) and Helena Sanderson and Jack Honey were the third-best mixed team (29th overall).
Most of the crews will now be focusing on Easter’s Yachting New Zealand youth trials for the 29er class, which will be used as a selection regatta for the 2018 youth sailing world championships in the US in July.