Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders brushed aside a late decison to ban the use of a sail they had been mastering in training to sit third after the opening day of the Nacra world championships in France overnight (NZ time).

The Nacra 17 class has gone through massive change in the last six months as they move into foiling and a decision to ban the use of gennakers upwind two days out from the start of the world championships came as just another obstacle to overcome for Jones and Saunders.

But the pair produced a solid set of scores on the opening day of the world championships to sit third behind two British crews. Fellow Kiwis Liv Mackay and Micah Wilkinson are 22nd but have been at a disadvantage given the pair took possession of their new foiling Nacra only three days before the regatta started.

Last year's Rio Olympics were sailed in non-foiling Nacras but the class has moved into foiling catamarans which will be used at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Mackay and Wilkinson were among a number of combinations to receive their new boats on the eve of the world championships.

Those who received boats a couple of months ago, including Jones and Saunders, had been utilising a gennaker when sailing upwind but a number of teams protested this before the world championships started. It was put to a vote and their use upwind was banned.

"We had been mastering our technique in these conditions with the gennaker upwind so it was a bit of a shock to have it banned," Jones said. "We were a bit nervous today going out because we had no idea how it was going to go because it was the first time we had tried it [without the gennaker] today.

"We just wanted to hang in there and not throw it away on the first day and get some solid, consistent results which is what we did, so we are happy."

Jones and Saunders were third, fifth and fourth in the three races overnight (NZ time) to sit on 12 points, three behind leaders John Gimson and Anna Burnet of Great Britain. Fellow Brits Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson are second but level on points with the Kiwis.

American duo Riley Gibbs and Louisa Chafee led coming off the water but were slapped with a 50 percent penalty for a measurement infringement.

Mackay and Wilkinson were seventh, 11th and 16th in the light conditions of 5-8 knots and had some issues getting off the start line in all three races.

"It was our fourth sail in our new boat, which was really exciting for us," Mackay said. "Tomorrow we are going to be a lot more aggressive and work to hold our line off the start to give ourselves more options. Hopefully we can get a few low scores on the board.

"Today in all three starts we had to tack out really soon after the start which wasn't good and we had to try to work our way back through the fleet. We did that in the first two races but weren't so lucky in the last.

"We learned a lot about the boat and the board rakes. I felt we went really well downwind and our teamwork was a real positive. It was just the start line."

The pair made some adjustments to their boat after racing, including to their rig, which they hope will make a difference as they learn the nuances of the new Nacras. Both Kiwi crews are also hopeful the conditions tonight will suit them better.

"It looks like it will be windier for the rest of the week, which I think will suit us," Jones said. "We don't really know what people will come out with in this regatta. It will be interesting to see all the different techniques people have been trialling and will pull out for these worlds, which is really exciting, actually. It will be interesting to see what people come out with in 15 knots tomorrow."

Results and standings at the Nacra 17 world championships in La Grande Motte, France, overnight (NZ time):

1st: John Gimson / Anna Burnet (GBR) 3 4 2 - 9 points

2nd: Ben Saxton / Katie Dabson (GBR) 6 4 2 - 12 pts

3rd: Gemma Jones / Jason Saunders (NZL) 3 5 4 - 12 pts

22nd: Olivia Mackay / Micah Wilkinson (NZL) 7 11 16 - 34 pts

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Yachting New Zealand