Kiwis five in top 10

New Zealand's top Olympic class sailors emerged from their first block of international competition in two years knowing they're not too far off the top.


Photography by © Sailing Energy / FFVOILE

04 May 2022

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Five boats finished in the top 10 at the French Olympic Week regatta which finished in Hyeres today on top of five who were in the top 10 at last month’s Palma World Cup, which represents a good return after so long in the international wilderness. Only four of those who competed in Hyeres went to last year’s Tokyo Olympics and two were in different combinations.

No racing was possible in the iQFoil medal races in Hyeres today due to light winds, meaning Veerle ten Have finished fifth overall in the women’s event and Josh Armit eighth in the men’s competition.

The remaining classes all got their medal races away with Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson finishing fifth overall in the Nacra 17, George Gautrey ninth in the ILCA 7 (Laser) and Alex Maloney and Olivia Hobbs ninth in the 49erFX.

The race didn’t exactly go to plan for Wilkinson and Dawson, who started the day in fourth, but they picked up a penalty in the pre-start after a tangle with the Australians and struggled to recover.

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“It was a lot of fun, quite eventful and we definitely came out on the wrong side of it, ending up last [in the double points race], but it was a cool opportunity to learn and we are definitely going to be coming back stronger next time,” Wilkinson said. “Overall it’s been a really good week, with positive signs for us.”

It was also a good week for Maloney and Hobbs, who were competing in their second international event together after teaming up in February. The pair won two races earlier in the week on top of five other top-five results.

“We are really encouraged after the first two events we have done together as a team and have real clarity on what we need to work on,” Maloney said. “It’s an exciting place to be at and it feels good to be shaking off the racing rust.”

Maloney and Hobbs, along with some other Kiwi crews, will head to Marseille to train at the Olympic venue.

The windfoiling squad heads to Lake Garda to prepare for this month’s iQFoil European Championships in good spirits after impressing in their first international competitions.

Ten Have was seventh in Palma and fifth in Hyeres and shows good potential in a class that will make its debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics. She finished outside the top 10 in races only once this week and fancied her chances of finishing on the podium had the medal racing taken place.

Both ten Have and Armit were sent out for their medal races but were soon sent back to shore when it was apparent there wasn’t enough wind to get foiling.

“Josh and I are both gutted because we were pretty keen to race, especially as the light is kind of our strong point at the moment because it’s what we have been training in the most,” ten Have said.

“Because we didn’t race today, I want to race even more now. I can’t wait to get back racing even though it’s been only a couple of hours.”

The men’s iQFoil was dominated by French and Polish sailors, with 11 of the top 13 from those two countries, but the Olympics will present a different picture with only one from each nation selected to compete.

Armit went into these first two European regattas with no expectations having not competed internationally in the class before – he’s been windfoiling for only two years but in 2018 won gold in the ILCA 6 at the youth sailing world championships – and showed huge improvement in a short space of time.

“It was a really good week,” he said. “I learned so much and have some new stuff in the playbook, which is really cool. A big one is all the modes and settings but also how to race because there are all these new courses that we haven’t been able to race in fleets in New Zealand.”

The main focus for New Zealand’s sailors this year will be their class world championships, which mostly take place in September and October. The ILCA 7 squad, however, now head to Mexico for their world championships where Tom Saunders will defend the title he won in Spain late last year.

Full results here.

 

yachtingnz.org.nz

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