Sail-World New Zealand- April 27, 2014 - Big success for NZ in Hyeres

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Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie - Womens 470 - ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres - Final day
Welcome to New Zealand for April 27, 2014

New Zealand topped the Medal table at the ISAF World Sailing Cup Hyeres.

With two Gold and two Silver medals, plus two fourth placings, New Zealand has top five placings in half of the Olympic sailing events.

At Olympic level, a top five placing is generally reckoned to be the benchmark necessary to have a realistic chance of a medal win.

Obviously with two years to run until the 2016 Olympics, there is a long way to go, but at present New Zealand’s chances at Rio look very good indeed.

Factor into that the youth of the New Zealand team, a group that is on the rise, rather than an older group trying to eke out another Olympic campaign.

Pete Burling and Blair Tuke celebrate - 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres
© Franck Socha

There is also a sea change going on in the Olympic classes – look back to the ISAF World Cup Miami, there Great Britain won six Gold medals. In Hyeres the former powerhouse of Olympic sailing won just a single Gold medal, and two in previous regatta in Mallorca. GBR now have no Ainslie’s, no Percy’s to provide the head start the team has had so often in the past decade.

The level of competition has lifted in the last two World Cup events, which have been staged in Europe, and against that backdrop the New Zealand performance is even more impressive.

As is the fact that in four months time the ISAF World Sailing Championships will be staged in Santander, Spain – which are more importantly the Olympic Qualification round for 2016 – where 50% of the places for each class will be allocated.

Meech and Maloney, 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, France

New Zealand’s objective will be to qualify in as many of those events as possible – and hopefully all ten Olympic classes.

With that out of the way, there is suddenly a lot more certainty in the Olympic equation – and funding becomes much more targeted. For the NZ sailors whose classes miss the Qualification cut in Santander, the Road to Rio becomes very much more steep and slippery.

Qualification on the second round, by definition means that you are outside the top half of the fleet and trying to make the case to funders that the class has Medal potential is drawing a very long bow.

Finn medal race - 2014 Delta Lloyd Regatta, day 5
Guilain Grenier

For NZ, five in that top five category, is excellent, and six in the top 10 is also good. The feature is bleak for those outside that group in Santander.

Most countries that are serious about their Olympic effort will have similar standards of achievement – all based on the British Blueprint that has served them so well over the decade or so.

This edition is dominated by the news from the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres. It's a huge NZ sailing success story.

We also have coverage from the start of the Solo Tasman Crossing Challenge, with some great reporting and video interviews from Morgan Fahey.

The start was delayed until last Tuesday, a not uncommon occurrence in single-handed sailing, where starting in rough weather is a recipe for mass withdrawal and boat damage. Far better to wait for a good weather window to get the boats away from the coast, and then let the racing begin.

Navigator Andrew Cape from Australia onboard Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)

Because of the diversity of boat types and sizes the Trans-Tasman is about personal challenge, as much as it is a race. Just crossing one of the most inclement stretches of water in the world, sailing single-handed is quite an achievement.

Alex Mlaoney and Molly Meech 49erFX - 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, France
From the Volvo Ocean Race we have republished a feature on Andrew Cape the veteran Australian navigator, who is on his sixth Volvo Ocean Race, and seventh circumnavigation. There‘s a pictorial tribute encompassing some of his Volvo Ocean Races covering Puma, Ericsson, Movistar and Telefonica

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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