Sailing: Solid starts on tough racing day

Racing at ISAF Sailing World Cup is underway with day one of the six-day regatta in Hyeres, France. A solid team of Kiwi campaigners are competing including 14 entries across six events including the Laser, Finn, 49er, 49erFX, Men's 470 and Nacra17.

Tauranga sailors Andrew Murdoch, Alex Maloney, Molly Meech, Thomas Saunders, Sam Meech and Andy Maloney all featured prominently on the opening day.

Murdoch, sailing in his second international regatta after switching to the Finn class, is in 20th overall after day one on the water where he returned an 11th and a 17th.

Silver medallists from ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma earlier this month, Alex Maloney and Molly Meech have also made a solid start on day one in Hyeres. The young Kiwis finished 10th and ninth in the first two, and won the third race of the day in the 49erFX women's skiff class. They're in fifth place heading into day two of qualifiers.

In the Laser class three races were sailed, the light conditions producing mixed results for the Kiwis. Saunders, Sam Meech and Andy Maloney all returned at least one great race, but consistency was a challenge.

Saunders is the best placed of the New Zealand team after day one, lying seventh overall with a fourth, sixth and 13th. Meech opened with a second place, and went on to a 12th and a 29th. While Maloney's 43rd place in the opener wasn't memorable, things improved for him after that with a fourth then 13th.

"Very tough first day of racing here in Hyeres. We completed three qualifying races, in 3-6 knots of breeze," said Maloney.

"I had a difficult start to the day but salvaged a couple of decent enough results after that. A lot of top guys had mixed days today, it was not the easiest of conditions that is for sure. Tomorrow looks light again, two more qualifying races scheduled. Bring it on."

Meanwhile, Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox have opened with an almost faultless performance in the Men's 470 class to top the 63 strong fleet. They sailed three races for a fifth and two wins.

The second kiwi entry in the Men's 470, Francisco Lardies and Luke Stevenson, took a bullet yesterday in their third race and they lie 11th overall.

The Finn fleet, featuring 68 of the world's best, sailed two races on day one of qualifying with Josh Junior the best of the two kiwi boats at this early stage. Junior, who represents Wellington's Worser Bay Boating Club, was second in race one, and followed that with seventh in race two and he lies fourth overall.

Day two will see all fleets back in action for the second and final day of qualifying rounds, before three days of finals, culminating in medal races in Hyeres on Saturday.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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