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NZL Sailing Team: Saunders stages ILCA 7 defence fightback at Vallarta, Mexico - Day 5

by Michael Brown / Yachting NZ 28 May 12:27 NZST 28 May 2022
Tom Saunders (NZL) sailing on Day 5 - 2022 ILCA7 World Championships - Vallarta, Mexico - May 2022 © John Pounder

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 at Vallarta, Mexico.

The defending world champion is second with two races remaining after finishing 12th and third in today's two gold fleet races. France's Jean-Baptiste Bernaz is 20 points ahead of Saunders but in a 63-boat fleet the points can accumulate very quickly.

Complicating the picture is the fact Saunders is only one point ahead of two-time world champion Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus and two-time Olympic silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia, with a couple of others not far behind, but Saunders feels he's hit some good form at the right time.

"I have made a bit of a statement so I still feel like I’m attacking, which is exciting," he said. "Jean-Baptiste is probably trying to defend at the moment. The other guys are still there or thereabouts but I feel like my projection has been pretty good and my consistency in gold fleet is what has pulled me through. I’m pretty excited to go out tomorrow and try to see what I can do.

"I just need to have a good first race tomorrow and, if I do that, then it sets me up pretty well. I don’t really have a bad drop [for the worst two results of the regatta] yet. I think the other guys have at least one bad one so I just need to go out there and focus on what I have been doing and see where the points stack up after that. Depending on how everyone went, then hopefully I'll look to target JB or whoever to try to take them out."

Today's racing was not without complications. A wind shift halfway up the first beat of the first race caught many of the fleet out, including Saunders, and he found himself pretty deep at the top mark. He used his speed downwind to make up a few places and end up with a solid 12th place.

The second race was a lot more comfortable. A good start and first beat translated into a top-three finish and a move up to second overall in the standings.

Of the other Kiwis, Luke Deegan (92nd overall) and Luke Cashmore (96th) posted identical scores in silver fleet. George Gautrey withdrew from the world championships after the second day as he battles with the after-effects of Covid-19.

Results and standings after day 5 of the ILCA 7 world championships in Mexico:

Gold fleet (63 boats)

1st: Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) (19) 3 2 3 2 2 1 4 13 (14) - 30 points 2nd: Tom Saunders (NZL) 4 10 (19) 12 (13) 4 4 1 12 3 - 50 pts 3rd: Pavlos Kontides (CYP) (11) 8 6 2 3 1 25 (27) 1 5 - 51 pts

63rd: George Gautrey (NZL) 3 6 23 15 (64 DNC) 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC - 303 pts

Silver fleet (63 boats)

92nd: Luke Deegan (NZL) 42 (52) 40 38 (46) 30 16 28 37 25 - 256 pts 96th: Luke Cashmore (NZL) 37 34 34 39 (40) (45) 26 36 25 37 - 268 pts

Full results here...

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