Sailing: New Zealand poised to win two sailing gold medals

Andy Maloney competes in the Laser class. Photo / Getty Images
Andy Maloney competes in the Laser class. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand is well placed to secure two gold medals at Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR Regatta.

Both Andy Maloney (Laser) and Josh Junior (Finn) lead their fleets and are well clear on points after an eventful and rainy day in Palma. Just the medal races remain, and all Josh Junior needs to do to win gold is show up and complete the race.

Lying equal with Great Britain's Giles Scott going into the day Junior is now in a commanding position with a 19 point unassailable lead in the men's heavy-weight dinghy Finn fleet. He simply needs to sail tomorrow's medal race to win his first European event and end Scott's three-year unbeaten run.

A 5th and a 12th on the water today was enough to see him step out the point differential when other strong contenders didn't some through the day unscathed, including Scott who retired from race ten with a broken rudder fitting.

"It's been a pretty tricky, cold day but I went into today having all really good scores and Giles [Scott] had one really big race that he was dropping," explained Junior after racing. "So I tried to have a good first race and I did that. Giles won it but I ended up fifth."

"So then in the last race, which I guess was the deciding race in the regatta, I tried to take Giles out, but it was too windy and he was too good so that didn't really happen."

He continues, "We both got a pretty average start and he sailed through and I was in tenth. Then his rudder fell off which was really unfortunate for him, but lucky for me as it means I win the regatta and he has to count his 45th."

"So I am really happy to come away with a win, my first ever win in Europe."

Andy Maloney not only retains his lead in the Laser class, but the kiwi has now opened up a 17 point gap on the next best placed sailor.

In today's strong winds Maloney placed 17th and second in his two races and benefits from his consistency over the regatta so far and able to discard the 17th as his worst result of the ten races.

Maloney has 37 points while Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) is in second place on 54 points and Brazil's Robert Scheidt is lying third on 64 points. While the kiwi can mathematically be beaten it would require him to finish tomorrow's medal race at the back of the pack and for Stipanovic to win it.

With no selection announcement made yet in the Laser or Finn classes for the New Zealand Olympic Team both Andy Maloney and Josh Junior are vying for the sole berth in their respective events to represent New Zealand in Rio this August. They have strong competition however, with Sam Meech in the Laser and Andrew Murdoch in the Finn also on form.

Neither Meech nor Murdoch are competing in Palma, choosing to train elsewhere, but all will be on the start line at this month's World Sailing Cup Hyeres Regatta in France from 22 - 26 April.

In the Laser Radial Susannah Pyatt is 30th and Sara Winther is 32nd overall and New Zealand will not sail in tomorrow's top ten Radial medal race. From here, Winther and Pyatt go on to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico for the 2016 Laser Radial World Championship.

Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia IBEROSTAR is an annual regatta which attracts large fleets in the Olympic class events, including the world's best sailors, and 2016 is no exception. The Laser medal race is on at 11:45am on course 3, and the Finn medal race is scheduled for 1 o'clock local time in Spain on course 1.

- NZ Herald

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