Tauranga sailors close to first title

Jason and Gemma second by one point at Medemblik. Photo: Supplied

Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders came agonisingly close to picking up their first title of the season at the Medemblik Regatta over the weekend, but eventually had to settle for second by just one point.

The Nacra 17 pair were second in Saturday night’s double points top-10 medal race, but needed one more boat between them and the Spanish combination of Fernando Echavarri Erasun and Tara Pacheco van Rijnsoever to win the regatta.

They went into the day five points down on the leaders and knew it would be a tall order to sneak in front given the quality of the fleet and realised they had probably lost their chance of gold on the penultimate day, which Tauranga sailor Jason Saunders described as their "worst day of the regatta".

They incurred a costly black flag disqualification in one race and couldn't finish any higher than fourth in the others.

Many of the world's top Nacra teams opted to skip the Medemblik Regatta, formerly known as the Delta Lloyd Regatta, with the top four teams finishing some distance ahead of the rest of the 21-boat fleet - 57 points separated fourth and fifth.

Regardless, Jones and Saunders treated it as a good opportunity to get some more race training in ahead of August's sailing world championships in Aarhus.

"We are still really happy with the regatta," says Jason. "I think we have made some good progress since [the Princess Sofia Regatta in] Palma and [World Cup in] Hyeres and we are pretty excited about the season to come because hopefully we can take some of our gains here into the next regattas and do something good at the worlds in Aarhus."

The medal race was a new experience for Gemma and Jason, with boundaries in place in theatre-style racing.

They revelled in the warm conditions and 10 knots of wind to finish second in the race behind the British pair of John Gimson and Anna Burnet with the Spaniards fourth.

"We knew it was pretty close on points going into the race but that we had probably lost our chance to be on the top of the podium yesterday because in this regatta and fleet it was a pretty big ask to finish out of the top five with the boats that were here," says Jones.

"We were trying to have a good race and keep our second place and see if we could get a chance to go for gold.

"It was a pretty hectic race because of the boundaries which I hadn't sailed in before in the Nacra. It was pretty tight so there was a lot of boat handling as opposed to strategy and speed.

"We can definitely take a lot of positives out of the regatta. Even though it wasn't the highest quality fleet, it was still very valuable for us."

The next major regatta on the calendar is the World Cup Series Final in Marseille and features Josh Junior and Andy Maloney in the Finn.

Gemma and Jason head to Aarhus this week for training with a number of the rest of the NZL Sailing Team before competing at Kiel Week and the Nacra European championships before the world championships.

Tauranga sailor Max van der Zalm was the next best of the New Zealanders competing in Medemblik, finishing fourth in the under-19 RS:X. Another Tauranga windsurfer Veerle ten Have was 35th in the women's RS:X and Antonio Cozzolino 40th in the men's RS:X. Aucklander Cozzolino had a much better second half of the regatta, with six top-10 finishes in his last eight races.

Results and standings after the final day of the Medemblik Regatta in the Netherlands overnight (NZ time):

Nacra 17 (21 boats)

1st: Fernando Echavarri Erasun / Tara Pacheco van Rijnsoever (ESP) 2 1 1 9 2 1 2 2 4  1 (14) 2 8 - 35 points

2nd: Gemma Jones / Jason Saunders (NZL) 1 3 3 2 3 2 5 4 1 4 (22 UFD) 5 4 - 36 pts

3rd: John Gimson / Anna Burnet (GBR) 5 2 2 7 4 3 1 3 3  (22 UFD) 6 1 2 - 39 pts

Boy's under-19 RS:X (21 boards)

1st: Fabien Pianazza (FRA) 1 1 (2) 1 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 2 2 - 17 pts

2nd: Tom Garandeau (FRA) 2 2 1 5 2 1 1 2 (13) 2 2 3 4 - 27 pts

3rd: Jim van Someren (NED) 9 (10) 6 2 3 7 9 8 4 6 4 1 8 - 67 pts

4th: Max van der Zalm (NZL) 5 6 6 (22 UFD) 7 3 4 3 9 4 9 7 10 - 74 pts

Women's RS:X (47 boards)

1st: Zofia Noceti Klepacka (POL) 3 4 4 6 1 (22) 11 2 6 2 2 6 10 - 57 pts

2nd: Lilian de Geus (NED) 1 (48 RET) 2 23 6 2 4 4 5 15 4 5 2 - 73 pts

3rd: Stefania Elfutina (RUS) 2 2 8 1 (17) 10 12 1 1 8 7 12 14 - 78 pts

35th: Veerle Ten Have (NZL) 23 32 29 (44) 42 37 38 38 27 34 40 33 21 - 394 pts

Men's RS:X (58 boards)

1st: Yoav Cohen (ISR) 1 3 1 2 7 1 (24) 4 2 5 1 3 6 - 36 pts

2nd: Maciej Kluszczynski (POL) 2 2 1 1 1 1 5 3 4 1 (13) 2 16 - 39 pts

3rd: Kieran Holmes-Martin (GBR) 1 5 4 1 2 2 1 1 (9) 4 RDG 3 6 18 - 48 pts

40th: Antonio Cozzolino (NZL) 17 16 23 8 22 23 9 10 8 9 8 8 (30 BFD) 15 - 168 pts


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