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NZL Sailing Team: Kiwis 'enjoy' strong start to ILCA world championships

by Michael Brown / Yachting NZ 23 May 18:20 PDT
George Gautrey (NZL) - ILCA7 - Day 4 - NZL Sailing Team - Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - April 2022 © Sailing Energy/FFVoile

A scan of the results would suggest George Gautrey enjoyed an excellent opening day of the ILCA 7 (Laser) world championships in Mexico but there wasn't a lot of enjoyment on the water for the Wellingtonian.

Gautrey is fourth equal in the 126-strong fleet after finishing third and sixth in his two races today. He sits only five points behind Hungary's Jonatan Vadnai with fellow Kiwi and defending world champion Tom Saunders five points behind in ninth.

But 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.

"Today was really, really tough," he admitted. "I was nowhere near 100 percent. My body isn't really ready to sail two hour-long races a day. After the first race today I was a bit of a mess, throwing up, headaches, so I was pretty happy to come out of the day with two keepers.

"The good thing is we have three days of qualifying and it's not as intense as gold-fleet racing so I'm hoping I can get through qualifying in good shape and hopefully be feeling a lot better towards the end of the week."

Gautrey isn't the only one battling illness, and Olympic champion Matt Wearn of Australia sailed out to the race course but returned to shore before the start of the first race.

Saunders also picked up an infection on the eve of the world championships - he's not certain it was Covid after continually testing negative - and knows rest and recovery will be big factors across six days of challenging racing.

Saunders was fourth and 10th in his two races today sailed in a beautiful 12-15 knot sea breeze off the coast of Riveria Nayarit to leave him handily placed after the first day.

A run of good scores is more important than winning races, although that obviously helps, so Saunders was pleased to emerge relatively unscathed when some other contenders struggled.

"I thought I sailed pretty smartly today," he said. "I just got one [upwind] beat wrong, the first one of the second race, but I just tried to chip away through the fleet and managed to scrape through with a 10, which was pretty pleasing.

"That was probably the most pleasing race of the day. Those are the races that make or break your regatta. I'm happy to get day one out of the way and looking forward to the rest of the week. I'll just try to execute those first beats a little bit better and hopefully the speed takes care of itself."

Two other Kiwis are in the field, which is split into two even fleets for three days of qualifying, with Luke Cashmore in 70th overall and Luke Deegan 100th.

Similar weather conditions are expected for the remainder of the world championships. Gautrey will just be hoping the fog hanging over him clears soon.

Results and standings after day 1 of the ILCA 7 world championships in Mexico: (126 boats)

1st: Jonatan Vadnai (HUN) 2 2 - 4pts
2nd: Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) 5 3 - 8pts
3rd: Nik Aaron Willim (GER) 2 7 - 9pts

4th=: George Gautrey (NZL) 3 6 - 9pts
9th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 4 10 - 14pts
70th: Luke Cashmore (NZL) 37 34 - 71pts
100th: Luke Deegan (NZL) 42 52 - 94pts

Full results here...

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