Yachting: Burling and Tuke on cusp of victory

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand in action. Photo / Getty Images
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand in action. Photo / Getty Images

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke will take a healthy 28 point lead into the last of the 2016 49er World Championships in Clearwater, Florida.

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech have relinquished their overall lead slipping to fifth overall after today's racing but have tomorrow to push for a podium finish.

Conditions were extreme again today with Clearwater's shallow waters quickly chopping up into a high stakes, boat breaking environment.

Starting at 10am tomorrow the gold fleet in both the 49er and 49erFX will sail three more races before the top 10 progress and sail the final determining medal race in the afternoon.


Peter Burling and Blair Tuke remain well out in front in the 49er World Championship still 28 points in front of the pack after sailing three gold fleet races in choppy, rough and challenging conditions off Clearwater today.

"We're really looking forward to getting out there and into some gold fleet racing in the 49er," commented Burling ahead of today's competition. "I think that some of most fun racing you can get in the 49er is gold fleet at a world champs so we're really looking forward to it."

It wasn't all plain sailing for the Kiwis today who recorded a 20th in their second race after an average start left them buried in the fleet, but a fourth in the opener and a second to close the day sees them maintain their points margin on the pack.

The Austrian pair of Nico Luca Marc Delle Karth and Nikolaus Leopold Resch have moved into second overall with Australia's Nathan Outteridge and Ian Jensen dropping away to sixth and rumoured to be affected by injury.

49er FX

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech have dropped out of the overall lead in the 49erFX after placing 17th, ninth and 11th in today's gold fleet racing in Clearwater. However points are close around them and there's plenty more racing to come tomorrow and Maloney and Meech will be focussed on achieving good race results to put them in medal contention going into the medal race.

Meech describes the day; "When we first got out there the conditions were actually really nice, and the waves were really nice to go sailing downwind. We did three races and over the course of the three races the waves picked up and things got a little bit trickier."
Meech continues, "Our day wasn't so good today, we had pretty tough racing and ours starts weren't that good which has been a work on, and it was just tricky all round for us."
After interruptions early in the regatta organisers have added three gold fleet races to the schedule on the final day before the top ten medal race, and the kiwi women will be looking to put those to good use.

"One more day of gold fleet racing tomorrow and then a medal race, so there is a lot of points up for grabs and anything can happen."

Taking the overall lead are Spain's Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos who have really hit their stride yesterday and today. They lead from Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze by nine points.

The other Kiwi crew of Erica Dawson and Ellie Copeland are also racing in gold fleet, and go into the final day of the regatta holding 18th overall.

Nacra 17

In the 2016 Nacra 17 World Championship the NZL Sailing Team pair of Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders has improved their overall position after racing on the penultimate day the regatta, but not enough to make the top 10 medal race cut off.

"On the Nacra course we had up to 16-17 knots, puffy winds, big waves and pretty full on sailing," describes Jez Fanstone, Yachting New Zealand High Performance Director.

With moments of brilliance through the 15 race series the Kiwis have collected three top five race finishes but have been unable to maintain their consistency and finish today in 14th overall.

Jason Saunders says, "It was a tough day racing again today we started off in 12-15 knots and some pretty nasty waves and it built, especially in the last race and it got pretty hard for sailing but it was good fun and nice to have some good breeze again after a couple of light days."

"It was a better day for us today, slowly getting better" says Saunders. "I still wouldn't say it was an amazing day. We have had a pretty tough regatta for us so far and it was nice to get at least a couple of good races in. We're feeling like we're getting better but unfortunately we've run out of time to get a good result, but we've learnt a lot and we're looking forward to the rest of the year."

"We've learnt a lot with equipment here, and we won't make the same mistakes again so I think there is a lot of things we can change to get back to what we think is our best level."

"We have about a week off now and then we have our home regatta, Oceanbridge Sail Auckland and we'll go there and we'll race around with the young guys and a few of the other Kiwis and then we'll build up with the usual Europe trip, Palma and Hyeres and mix that in with a couple of stints in Rio and really looking towards August."

Aon Fast Track Squad sailors Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson end the day in 17th place overall in the 43-boat fleet.

Both crews will race again tomorrow with a final fleet race planned for all boats not placed within the top ten, while those that did make the cut will sail just their medal race.

The Nacra 17 will debut at the Olympic Games this August in Rio, and the fleet will come together again before then to compete at up-coming Sailing World Cup Regattas in Hyeres in April and Weymouth in June.

- NZ Herald

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