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NZL Sailing Team: Kiwis miss top ten overall at 49er and 49erFX Worlds

by Yachting NZ/ 10 Mar 20:50 PDT
Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie - 49er World Championships - Lanzarote, Spain - March 2024 © Sailing Energy

Both top New Zealand crews finished outside the top ten overall in just concluded 49er and 49erFX World Championships in Lanzarote, Spain. NZ crews finished 4th and 6th respectively in the 2023 World Championships at The Hague.

With Paris 2024 just over four months away, the Kiwi 49erFX crew know they have their work cut out following a somewhat disappointing performance at the world championships in Lanzarote.

Despite some positives, Aleh and Meech finished 12th overall at the event, which also doubled as the last of two Olympic selection trials, with a string of inconsistent results - varying from a bullet in their regatta opener to 23rd in their penultimate gold fleet race in conditions which were very different to what they are used to.

They were too slow to adjust to their surroundings, while too many mistakes also proved costly, Aleh said.

"It was a challenging week overall as Lanzarote is a pretty unique place to sail, and the racing was probably trickier than we would have thought compared to our build-up here. We made a few too many errors and because it is such a tight fleet, you get punished for them."

There were good signs - the duo fell only 13 points short of what would have been their second medal race in three international events - and their second since teaming up in the skiff in early 2022.

They finished sixth at the combined world championships in The Hague last August, a result that secured a country spot in the class at the Games.

"We had a lot of good moments, and have definitely made some good gains over the last few months which we managed to show in many of the races here," Aleh said.

"It’s always a bit tough to take as we are super competitive and we know how many points we left on the water. But we also knew this campaign was always going to be a challenge and we see enough positives to keep us pushing even harder."

Aleh and Meech weren't the only ones to struggle with the conditions off the Spanish island, with New Zealand's leading 49er team at the event, Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie, having to settle for 15th overall.

"It was a really tricky week for us and not our best performance," McKenzie said. "We struggled to get the boat going quickly. The conditions here are a lot different to anywhere we've sailed - we're out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and there's often a big underlying swell mixed with some weird chop on top."

According to McKenzie, they spent much of the week trying to dial in their settings and technique to adjust to the sea state.

"We made some good breakthroughs towards the end of the event but, unfortunately, a few mistakes like picking some wrong shifts and a few unfortunate capsizes yesterday summed up our regatta."

They finished some way behind France's Erwan Fischer and Clément Pequin, who locked in first place even before the medal race, with Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken (Netherlands), and Diego Botin and Florian Trittel (Spain) in second and third.

McHardie and McKenzie, who capped an impressive 2023 with bronze at the European championships in November, have been vying for selection for the sole 49er spot in France against Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn - but an unfortunate leg injury to Dunning Beck only days before the start of the world championships ruled the latter pair out of the world champs.

"We're looking forward to getting back into it at home and hopefully bring our A-game to [the French Olympic Week regatta in] Hyeres," McKenzie said.

Meanwhile, young 49er pair Campbell Stanton and Will Shapland showed plenty of promise by finishing in the top half of the silver fleet and 40th overall.

Final results and standings at the 49er and 49erFX world championships in Lanzarote:

49erFX fleet (51 boats)
1. Odile van Aanholt/Annette Duetz (Ned) 1 3 1 3 6 9 8 1 1 13 5 3 2 1 (17) 6 - 63 points
2. Vilma Bobeck/Rebecca Netzler (Swe) 14 2 3 2 1 5 6 1 8 14 11 1 1 (22) 3 8 - 80 pts
3. Jana Germani/Giorgia Bertuzzi (Ita) 3 2 5 16 12 2 4 2 6 6 22 6 (25) 3 1 14 - 90 pts
12. Jo Aleh/Molly Meech (NZ) 1 9 15 17 3 4 2 8 (23) 10 10 18 6 23 13 - 139 pts

49er fleet (71 boats)
1. Erwan Fischer/Clément Pequin (Fra) 11 1 7 3 1 3 1 2 3 (18) 2 3 3 2 3 1 12 - 58 pts
2. Bart Lambriex/Floris van de Werken (Ned) 5 4 1 7 4 1 1 1 (20) 16 3 20 4 1 7 17 4 - 96 pts
3. Diego Botín/Florian Trittel (Esp) 13 18 3 3 2 3 15 1 6 7 1 1 9 5 (20) 11 8 - 106 pts
15. Isaac McHardie/Will McKenzie (NZ) 1 14 19 14 11 4 6 4 13 4 11 6 24 (25) 21 15 - 167 pts
40. Campbell Stanton/Will Shapland (NZ) 30 13 29 17 20 25 22 20 12 14 17 (31) 20 18 12 19 16 - 304 pts

Full results 49er Overall Results here and 49erFX Overall Results here

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