Yachting: Polar opposites make winning 470 sail mates

Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders. Photo / APN
Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders. Photo / APN

Like those in many successful "marriages", sailors Jason Saunders and Paul Snow Hansen are polar opposites.

Saunders is Big Day Out, Snow Hansen is Laneway. But put them in a 470 boat and it works. The pair, who are both 21, finished eighth at last year's world championships sailed off Perth and have made such strides in recent times they must now be considered medal chances at this year's London Olympics.

They were in a position to win one halfway through the world championships, but slipped down the field at the pointy end of the competition.

"We are not similar people personality-wise," says Snow Hansen. "We are polar opposites. That can be a really big strength. We are always pushing ourselves by critiquing each other.

"I think we keep our on-water and off-water quite separate, which is a good thing," Saunders takes up.

"We are quite professional on the water. We have systems in place so someone always has control in a certain situation."

The main thing is being near the head of the fleet and they have already had Olympic selection confirmed. They will get another chance to prove their credentials at this weekend's Sail Auckland, where more than 200 competitors from 13 countries will compete on the Waitemata Harbour.

New Zealand's top sailors, including most of the elite sailing team and those already selected for the Olympics, will race at the annual event and Saunders and Snow Hansen will face competition from the women's 470 Olympic representatives Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie.

- APNZ

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