Please select your home edition
Edition
Barton Marine 2019 728x90

NZL Sailing Team: Tom Saunders heads to Mexico for World ILCA 7 title defence

by Michael Brown/Yachting NZ 23 May 05:01 PDT
Tom Saunders (NZL) - ILCA 7 - NZL Sailing Team - Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - April 2022 © Sailing Energy/FFVOILE

Tom Saunders is heading into his ninth ILCA 7 world championships but knows this one will be a bit different to the rest.

That's because the 29-year-old goes in as defending champion after winning last year's world title in Barcelona.

It was a breakthrough performance for Saunders, who has regularly been in and around the world's top 10 over the past decade, and he became only the second Kiwi to win the ILCA 7 (Laser) world title since the first event in 1974.

"It’s great knowing I have won it before, and that brings a lot of confidence," he said. "If anything, it’s a lot more exciting to come in and try to defend your title and I feel like I have the right tools to try to figure out how to do that. I’m probably a lot more excited than previous world championships."

The ILCA 7 is arguably the most competitive of all the Olympic classes and Saunders estimates as many as 10 of the 127 sailors who have gathered in Riviera Nayarit in Mexico have the potential to finish on top.

That list includes the likes of Olympic champion Matt Wearn from Australia, two-time world champion Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus, who also won last month in Hyeres, and regular contender Philipp Buhl from Germany.

The conditions expected over the six days of racing - a sea breeze typically builds slowly throughout the day and gets up to about 20 knots - could also suit the favourites.

"It’s a great venue for all the contenders," Saunders said. "A good, solid breeze, nothing too random. I think it’s going to be quite a low-scoring event so I just need to come out and be onto it from day one.

"It’s going to be a bit of a speed trap. Every day is going to be more or less the same so everyone will have the speed. It will come down to execution and keeping on top of all the little things, like the heat, because days four, five and six is when the wheels could fall off."

Complicating things is the fact both Saunders and fellow Kiwi George Gautrey have had their buildups affected by illness but they have recovered and have been in Mexico for a couple of weeks so have managed to get in plenty of good training.

They also come in off the back of two good events in Palma and Hyeres over the past six weeks.

Saunders was fifth at the World Cup Series event in Palma but suffered three disqualifications at the French Olympic Week regatta in Hyeres, which blew out his scorecard. His other results there were tidy, including a race win and five scores inside the top four, so he knows he's quick.

"Hopefully the bad luck doesn’t continue," he said. "I think I’ve had a great buildup this year, with Palma and Hyeres. I got a lot out of those two events and proved to myself again that I can contend. I feel pretty confident heading into next week."

Gautrey also goes into the world championships in good form - he finished in the top 10 in Hyeres - and with a proven track record having finished third at the 2019 world championships.

Luke Cashmore and Luke Deegan round out the four-strong New Zealand squad and will also be out to make an impression when racing gets under way on Tuesday (NZ time).

Related Articles

ILCA 7 Worlds: Saunders finishes 4th - Final Day
Tom Saunders narrowly missed on a medal on the final day of the ILCA 7 Worlds Tom Saunders was hurting after narrowly missing out on a medal on the final day of the ILCA 7 (Laser) world championships in Mexico but also excited about his ability to consistently be near the top at major regattas. Posted on 29 May
ILCA 7 Worlds: Saunders into 2nd - Day 5
Tom Saunders responds well under pressure for the chance to win a second world title Tom Saunders is excited about the chance to win a second world title and will look to put the pressure on those around him on the final day of the ILCA 7 (Laser) world championships in Mexico. Posted on 28 May
ILCA 7 Worlds: Saunders into 3rd - Day 4
Saunders jumped 11 places to third overall on the back of a fourth and a first in today's two races Tom Saunders had felt he wasn't far off clicking in the early stages of the ILCA 7 world championships and it all came together for him on Day 4 in Mexico. Posted on 27 May
ILCA 7 Worlds: Moving day looms for Saunders
Tom Saunders goes into the first day of gold fleet racing in 14th overall - Day 3 report Saunders has easily made the cut, heading into tomorrow's first day of gold fleet racing in 14th overall, but knows he needs to find his groove if he is to be in contention on the final day. Posted on 26 May
ILCA 7 Worlds: Frustration in Mexico - Day 2
Frustration was the order of the day for New Zealand's top two ILCA 7 (Laser) sailors in Mexico George Gautrey went into the second day in fourth but has struggled physically as he battles the after-effects of Covid-19. Posted on 24 May
ILCA 7 Worlds: Fatigued Gautrey 4th after Day 1
Gautrey is fourth equal in the 126-strong fleet after finishing third and sixth on Day 1 George Gautrey would struggle to remember a more difficult day as battles the after-effects of a Covid-19 infection that wrecked his buildup and has left him feeling fatigued. Posted on 24 May
Lolly bribes help secure Sunburst Nationals win
Family involvement was a feature of this year's national Sunburst championships Andrew and Leo Wills finished four points ahead of another father and son combination, Adam and Henri Crooks, with siblings Finn and Hamish Brown third. Eight of the top nine crews were made up of family members. Posted on 11 May
420 & 470 Nationals at Takapuna - Mixed 470 debut
470 class holds its first National championship for Mixed Crews at Takapuna. After the introduction of new events for the Paris2024, the 470 class held its first National championship for Mixed Crews at Takapuna. The regatta was also the 420 Nationals for Youth crews ahead of regattas in Europe later this year. Posted on 2 May
Five Kiwis finish in top 10 in Hyeres - Day 6
Kiwis exit first international competition in two years knowing they're not too far of the pace Five boats finished in the top 10 at the French Olympic Week regatta which finished in Hyeres today on top of five who were in the top 10 at last month's Palma World Cup, which represents a good return after so long in the international wilderness. Posted on 30 Apr
Kiwi windfoilers in the hunt for medals - Day 5
Five New Zealand crews will contest the medal races on the final day of racing at Hyeres Five New Zealand crews will contest the medal races on the final day of racing at the French Olympic Week regatta in Hyeres tonight (NZ time), with two windfoilers in with a chance of finishing on the podium. Posted on 29 Apr
McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 FOOTERSelden 2020 - FOOTERVaikobi 2021 Boots - FOOTER