3 Apr 2016

Double gold for NZ sailors

7:47 am on 3 April 2016

New Zealand has won gold in two events at an international sailing regatta in Spain, with Andy Maloney winning the Laser and Josh Junior taking out the Finn class.

New Zealander Andy Maloney competes in a sailing test event in Brazil in August in preparation for the Rio Olympics.

New Zealander Andy Maloney competes in a sailing test event in Brazil in August in preparation for the Rio Olympics (file) Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Maloney held a share of the lead after day one of the six-day regatta in Palma, stepped ahead on the leaderboard after day two, and went on extend an almost unassailable lead ahead of this morning's Laser medal race.

New Zealand sailor Josh Junior.

New Zealand sailor Josh Junior Photo: Robert Deaves

"I am happy to seal the deal in today's medal race and win the 2016 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Regatta," Maloney said.

"I was looking to sail consistently this week, which I did. I was trying to start better, and try and sail risk-free."

Going into today, only Tonči Stipanović of Croatia was in a position to challenge Maloney for the gold medal, and the 25-year-old New Zealander ensured that wasn't going to happen.

Finishing last in the medal race and collecting 20 points along the way, Maloney's focus in today's finale was to secure the gold medal.

"Today, I wanted to treat it like the Olympics. Only Tonci could beat me, and so I had to cover him and so I executed that strategy well."

Maloney secured the victory against 151 other entrants competing in the light-weight dinghy class.

Brazilian sailor Robert Schedit - a multiple world champion in the Laser and Star classes - won today's medal race to secure the silver medal, while Stipanovic had to settle for bronze.

This is Maloney's first victory at a major European Championship in three years; he won this same event in May 2013.

Each qualified nation can send just one representative in each Olympic sailing event to Rio, and Maloney isn't the only on-form Laser sailor New Zealand has.

Sam Meech won bronze at the Sailing World Cup Miami in January this year, and has chosen to spend time training at the Olympic venue in Rio ahead of his first European regatta, which will be the Sailing World Cup Hyeres later this month.

Gold in the bag for Junior

Meanwhile, with gold in the bag before starting today's Finn medal race, Josh Junior, 26, romped away with victory in Palma, closing the regatta 27 points ahead of his nearest rival.

World champion Giles Scott from Great Britain took the silver medal and Tapio Nirkko from Finland took bronze.

Junior's victory ends Scott's three-year run of consecutive regatta wins.

Despite only needing to show up, Junior placed fifth in today's top 10 medal race - sailed in 8-12 knots of breeze.

He was delighted, he said: "All I needed to do today was to finish the race so I am ecstatic to have won the regatta, really happy."

Eight out of the 10 sailors on the Finn medal race starting line today had already been selected to represent their nations in Rio - with Junior one of the two still vying for selection in what will be tightly contested decisions for New Zealand.

Both Junior and Maloney will now turn their focus to the next European event on the calendar - the Sailing World Cup Hyeres between 22 and 26 April in France.