Light and fickle winds in Hyeres, France made for tough racing and changing fortunes on day three of the 2016 Sailing World Cup Hyeres, where a fifteen strong team of New Zealand crews are competing.
Five of the NZL Sailing Team will go into the penultimate day of the prestigious Olympic and Paralympic classes regatta with a top five position, well placed to make a final run for the podium.
That includes the unstoppable pair of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke who continues to lead in the 49er class. Today they built a healthy 34-point margin on the remainder of the fleet, despite sailing just two of the three scheduled races.
Burling and Tuke opened the day with a win and followed that with a 9th place in race eight. Nearly everyone else in the fleet suffered at least one poor race and the kiwis are now out in front on 24 points, with William and Sam Phillips (AUS) 34 points adrift in 2nd place.
In the women's 470 just one race was completed. Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie were 7th across the line and are now locked in a tight battle towards the top of the women's double-handed dinghy leader-board.
Now lying 3rd overall with 16 points, their arch rivals Hannah Mills and Saskia Clarke from the British Sailing Team have edged one point ahead. But it's the Brazilian pair of Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan, who won in Hyeres in 2013 and 2015, that now lead.
"A short day today with only one race," says Jo Aleh. "The wind was non-existent in the morning, so it was one of those hang out in the boat park mornings."
"Then we got straight into it, with an okay race for us. Solid enough, but just felt a little rusty. We made a few simple errors, and were not quite able to make the most of the opportunities."
"But we ticked off a few areas we have been working on, so we're still smiling and looking forward to three races tomorrow."
Going into the final day of fleet racing Aleh and Powrie, who won World Championship silver this year, are just two points off the lead.
Sam Meech (pictured above) was the big mover today, able to use the day's two races to improve from 9th up to 2nd place in the Laser event. One of the most consistent performers in the face of the shifty conditions, Meech placed 7th and 3rd to take a massive jump up the standings.
Australia's Tom Burton is now the only sailor ahead of Meech, but 13 points clear he has a solid leading margin up his sleeve. In 2nd place, Meech is two points ahead of Burton's Aussie team-mate Mathew Wearn.
Andy Maloney opened the day with a gun, but a 20th in race six followed, and with one similar result yesterday he carries that score. Maloney is lying 8th overall and in a good position to improve up the leader-board with only five points separating him from the top five, and a day of good wind racing looking likely tomorrow.
Andrew McKenzie, from the Aon Fast Track Squad, had his best day so far with an 8th and a 10th to improve up the leader-board to 26th.
Josh Junior has slipped to 5th overall in the Finn after a tough day for him. A start-line infringement in the first of two Finn races sailed today was compounded by a 17th in the subsequent race and Junior has slipped out of the top three.
He will be looking to improve again tomorrow, and with just five points between him and 3rd place, and just another two points for the lead, the podium is still well within his reach.
Andrew Murdoch returned a 14th and a 12th in today's racing. Now lying 14th overall he is left fighting to break back into the top ten for a start in Sunday's medal race.
In the men's 470 Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox are lying 5th holding equal points to the Turkish pair in 4th. Just one race was completed for their fleet today, in which they placed 10th.
The leading pairs, from Australia and Croatia, are well advanced on points and look set to grab the top two podium places. Behind them, the kiwis are among a tightly bunched group with tomorrow's racing set to determine the medal race line-up.
Four races were completed by the 49erFX fleet today providing mixed fortunes for the two New Zealand crews.
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, who ended the day with a gun, have broken into the top ten. Lying 9th after a total of eight races the NZL Sailing Team duo will be looking to further improve tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Erica Dawson and Ellie Copeland have slipped out of the top ten, but only just, lying 11th overall at the end of day three.
Four races were also completed on the Nacra course where two New Zealand crews are competing; neither had a great day and Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are the best placed lying 13th overall.
Sara Winther retains 20th overall in the Laser Radial, and Natalia Kosinska is lying 30th in the women's RS:X windsurfing.
Tomorrow organizers and competitors are hoping to complete a full schedule of racing on what is the penultimate day of 2016 Sailing World Cup Hyeres. Sunday's medal races will be screened live.