Sailing: Kiwi in the lead at European Championships

Josh Junior. Photo / Getty
Josh Junior. Photo / Getty

New Zealand's Josh Junior has hit the lead at the 2016 Finn European Championships after three days of racing in Barcelona, Spain.

With race four of the regatta finally getting underway in cold conditions around 3pm local time, only one race was possible for the 90 boats vying for the European crown in the Olympic heavy-weight dinghy.

Junior went into the day lying second behind Croatia's Milan Vujasinovic, but emerges with the overall lead after returning a keeper in today's race. The Kiwi crossed in fifth and is currently the only sailor with four single-digit races on the board.

"It was a really tough race," said Junior after coming ashore.

"Just after the start the breeze shifted left, probably about 20 degrees. Luckily I was down near the pin and managed to tack over and get away. So I am pretty happy to get a fifth out of that because it was a day you could easily come away with a 40th or 50th, as some of the guys did."

While he now sits atop the leader board, the Wellington local is well aware that there is plenty of racing yet to come.

"I am in the lead for now, but we are only four races in, and another six to go before the medal race. We'll see how it all stands then," he says.

Meanwhile, Vujasinovic had a mid-fleet finish in 44th and is relegated to fifth overall. All scores are counted until the discard comes into play after race five.

This opened the door for Zsombor Berecz, from Hungary to move into send overall. He is currently nine points behind Junior, while Pieter Jan Postma, from the Netherlands is now in third.

Andrew Murdoch has slipped to 19th overall after placing 40th on the water today. After race five he can drop his worst result, and he will be aiming to deliver consistent top place finishes to climb back through the ranks.

John Cutler, Olympic bronze medallist in the Finn at Seoul 1988, is coach to the New Zealand Sailing Team Finn squad.

In five months, on 9 August 2016, racing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta gets underway on Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro.

The battle for the only Finn spot for New Zealand is likely to be one of the toughest decisions selectors will face.

- NZ Herald

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