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Oceanbridge Regatta: Saunders, Gautrey slug it out on Day 2

by Eduan Roos/Yachting NZ 25 Feb 19:48 NZDT 25 February 2023
Tom Saunders won three of five races - Day 2 Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta - Torbay Sailing Club - February 25, 2023 © Adam Mustill Photography

After a subdued start to his season and with an important European campaign fast approaching, time in the boat and competitive racing is top of Tom Saunders’ wish list.

On Saturday, New Zealand’s sailor of the year got both.

Saunders, a former world champion in the ILCA 7 who won top gong at Yachting NZ’s Excellence Awards in November, is leading the fleet after five races of the 2023 Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta following a tough battle with teammate George Gautrey.

Saunders and Gautrey traded victories in the first four races before Saunders claimed the last to lead by one point heading into the final day.

With sailing abandoned due to Auckland’s wild weather on Friday, sailors faced extended time on the water today - and it was felt in the physically demanding ILCA 7, Saunders said.

“It was a pretty long day for us. I think I've done five races in my life once and that was a long time ago, so it was pretty tough out there," he said.

“It was a good battle between George and I and we were just holding hands out there all day. It’s all part of the build-up for Europe. George is obviously on the pace, so it was good having him there, trading blows.”

Saunders and Gautrey head to Palma for the Princesa Sofia Regatta next month – the start of European competition for many of the country’s Olympic hopefuls and an important next step on the road to the 2024 Paris Games.

It comes after a slightly underwhelming start to their year – Saunders and Gautrey both claimed top 10 finishes in the Australian National ILCA Championships and the Sail Melbourne regatta in January but failed to get on the podium in either.

“We’re getting better but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Saunders said.

“At least we’re starting to put in a lot more time in the boat and the more you do, the better you feel.”

Gautrey agrees.

“We’re definitely seeing progress but it takes time. Both Tom and I had things we weren’t happy with and that’s why getting to Adelaide and training with some of the best overseas sailors was so important,” he said.

“You can keep training in New Zealand but sometimes you can get caught up in your own bubble.”

Meanwhile, Olivia Christie leads the ILCA 6 fleet by three points from Greta Pilkington, after taking out three of five races.

“It was pretty good conditions for sailing and the rain held off just long enough,” Christie said.

“I had some really good starts and the races just all seemed to come together. But tomorrow’s a new day and new conditions and hopefully, I can keep building on today.”

Jo Aleh and Molly Meech have started the defence of their 49er FX crown in emphatic fashion, winning four consecutive races to lead Alex Maloney and Olivia Hobbs by three points.

“It was a good day after making a bunch of mistakes in the first race and some new tangles we haven’t had before,” Aleh said.

“We settled down after that and managed to do what we set out to do.”

With lighter conditions expected tomorrow will provide a whole new challenge, Aleh said.

“It will be good to change it up. It’s a pretty small fleet which means plenty of boat-on-boat racing, so for us, it will be all about minimising our mistakes.”

In the 49er class, Scott McKenzie and Blake McGlashan have a narrow lead over Sam Bacon and Cailen Rochford, while a perfect day - with five wins from five races - means the Kensington brothers, Sean and Rowan, are a comfortable seven points ahead in the 29er competition.

The kitefoil division saw another epic tussle between teenager Hugo Wigglesworth and national champion Lochy Naismith with the duo going race-for-race to finish tied on seven points.

Max van der Zalm leads Veerle ten Have after five races in the iQFOIL 8M fleet, while Josh Armit had a strong day – winning two races and achieving a top-three finish in the others to lead a visiting Dutch contingent by six points in the 9M class.

Racing is set to start at 11am tomorrow.

Results after Day 2 of the 2023 Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta hosted by Torbay Sailing Club:

420 fleet (5 boats):
1. Cam Brown/Alex Norman 1 (6 UFD) 1 1 1 - 4 pts;

2. Joe Leith/Joshua Ferrissey 2 1 (4) 2 2 - 7 pts;

3. Jed Potbury/Finn Balchin 3 2 2 3 (4) - 10 pts.

470 fleet (3 boats):
1st: Brittany Wornall/Sam Street 1 1 (2) 1 2 - 5 pts.

2nd: Derek Scott/Rebecca Hume 2 2 1 (4 UFD) 1 - 6 pts

3rd: Adrian France/Marie France (3) 3 3 2 3 - 11 pts

ILCA 6 fleet (33 boats):
1st: Olivia Christie 3 1 1 1 (5) - 6 pts

2nd: Greta Pilkington (4) 4 2 2 1 - 9 pts

3rd: Annabelle Rennie-Younger 1 3 (5) 3 3 - 10 pts

ILCA 7 fleet (10 boats):
1st: Tom Saunders 1 (2) 2 1 1 - 5 pts

2nd: George Gautrey (2) 1 1 2 2 - 6 pts

3rd: Luke Cashmore (4) 3 3 3 3 - 12 pts

29er fleet (17 boats):
1st: Sean Kensington/Rowan Kensington (1) 1 1 1 1 - 4 pts

2nd: Valentine Kayrouz/Cam McGlashan (9) 3 3 3 2 - 11 pts

3rd: Will Leech/Tim House 3 6 2 (18 DNF) 3 - 14 pts

49er fleet (7 boats):
1st: Scott McKenzie/Blake McGlashan 1 1 1 3 (5) - 6 pts

2nd: Sam Bacon/Cailen Rochford (4) 3 2 1 1 - 7 pts

3rd: Campbell Stanton/Will Shapland 3 2 3 (4) 2 - 10 pts

49er FX fleet (4 boats):
1st: Jo Aleh/Molly Meech (2) 1 1 1 1 - 4 pts

2nd: Alex Maloney/Olivia Hobbs 1 2 2 2 (3) - 7 pts

3rd: Courtney Reynolds-Smith/Brianna Reynolds-Smith (3) 3 3 3 2 - 11 pts

Kitefoil fleet (8 boards):
1st: Hugo Wigglesworth 2 1 1 2 (3) 1 - 7 pts

2nd: Lochy Naismith 1 (2) 2 1 1 2 - 7 pts

3rd: Justina Kitchen (3) 3 3 3 2 3 - 14 pts

iQFOIL 8M fleet (11 boards):
1st: Max van der Zalm 1 1 (2) 1 2 - 5 pts

2nd: Veerle ten Have 2 2 1 2 (4) - 7 pts

3rd: Jack Parr (3) 3 3 3 1 - 10 pts

iQFOIL 9M fleet (13 boards):

1st: Josh Armit 2 (3) 2 2 1 1 - 8 pts

2nd: Joost Vink 1 (4) 3 3 4 3 - 14 pts

3rd: Thomas Crook 4 1 4 4 3 (5) - 16 pts.

Full results here

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