Alex Maloney and Molly Meech from New Zealand have won gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres in the 49erFX class securing the victory today after six days of racing off the French coast. And Josh Junior has taken his first podium finish at a World Cup Regatta with bronze in the Finn.
'We’re definitely happy that we won our first World Cup event in Europe,' says Alex Maloney.
Starting the day with a lead of 18 points the young kiwis were mindful that the changing nature of medal race day meant that anything could happen. In the 49erFX class only the top eight placed crews get to take part in the last day of the regatta, sailing three quick-fire ten minute races on a short ‘stadium course’ with narrow boundaries. Each of the three races carry double points weighting and poor results on day six can unravel a leading margin very quickly.
'It was tough, it was quite stressful out there,' says Maloney talking about today’s racing. 'With it being so light and shifty the leaders changed all the time.'
But Alex Maloney and Molly Meech didn’t falter at the final hurdle, staying out of trouble and producing a two fifths and a fourth on the race track today which well and truly secured them the victory. The silver medal winners Charlotte Dobson and Mary Rook representing Great Britain finished 14 points behind the kiwis, with Annemiek Bekering and Claire Blom of the Netherlands collecting the bronze.
Hyeres is the final regatta of the 2012-13 ISAF Sailing World Cup Series and this result secures Maloney and Meech the overall series victory in the 49erFX counting Gold in Melbourne, Silver in Palma and now Gold in Hyeres.
The women’s skiff is new to the Olympic programme for Rio 2016, and while Maloney and Meech have proven they’re the crew to watch, they know there is lot of water yet to pass under the bridge; 'It’s just the beginning, most of the girls are really new in the boat so we’ve all got a long way to go,' says Molly Meech. 'And it’s just going to keep getting harder I guess.'
The girls were supported at this regatta, and also at the last round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup by coach Nathan Handley, who was the man behind Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie’s Olympic gold medal winning campaign.
For 23 year old Josh Junior who represents Wellington’s Worser Bay Boating Club, a bronze medal in the Finn class is a career highlight to date.
Lying fourth heading out today Junior had nothing to lose and all to gain managing to put together two great medal races placing third, then fourth. It was enough to see him get past Postma (NED) on the leader-board and stand on the podium.
'I’ve had a really good week, there doesn’t seem to be much that’s gone wrong,' says Junior at the end of the day. 'I’ve just kept consistent and kept knocking off good results, and then had two good medal races today and managed to finish on the podium, so I’m stoked!'
Sailing in only his second ever medal race stage in the Finn Josh Junior was able to draw on the experience of team-mate Andrew Murdoch (who finished 12th overall) to prepare himself.
'Andrew Murdoch was out there helping me. We talked a little bit about what might happen, and what we were looking for, and then we set a game plan and went for it,' Junior says.
A further three kiwis were in action in today’s medal races also returning top eight results for New Zealand in the Laser, 49er and Men’s 470 events.
Andy Maloney sailed well on the final day in the Lasers; with a second and a fifth he has finished this regatta in seventh overall.
After a disappointing opening day in the 49er class kiwis Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski improved throughout the six days of the event making huge gains to wrap things up in seventh place.
And in the Men’s 470 Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox come away with an eighth overall with more medal race experience under their belt and plenty of positives to build on from here.
Many of the team now return to New Zealand for a break before the next international event on their calendars.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres, 2013 - New Zealand’s Final Results
49ERFX 1st Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech
FINN 3rd Josh Junior 13th Andrew Murdoch (NZL Sailing Team)