11 Sep 2017

Kiwi sailors fourth in France

9:07 am on 11 September 2017

The New Zealand sailors Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders mounted a stirring comeback on the final day of the Nacra world championships in France, but just fell short of picking up a medal.

Nacra 17 sailors Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders in Rio

Nacra 17 sailors Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders in Rio Photo: Sailing Energy

The Kiwi pair won the first two races of the day in the breeziest conditions of the regatta sailed in 15-23 knots but finished seventh in the top-10 medal race to finish fourth overall, two points behind the Italian pair of Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti in third.

Fourth has become a familiar finishing position, although not one Jones and Saunders enjoy, after they were fourth at last year's Rio Olympics.

"Bittersweet," Jones said. "We had a great morning but didn't sail well in the medal race."

Great Britain's Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson claimed the world title, finishing three points ahead of the Spanish combination of Fernando Echavarri and Tara Pacheco.

New Zealand's Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson finished 10th overall, which was an excellent result for the 21-year-olds who took possession of their new foiling Nacra only three days before the start of the world championships.

Jones and Saunders started the day in eighth but clawed their way back into medal contention with two wins only to get caught on the wrong side of a big wind shift in the double points medal race.

"We had two awesome races," Saunders said. "We were sailing fast and it felt like things were clicking for us. We had some good starts and executed our strategy well to win both races. That gave us a chance going into the medal race.

"We were about 10 points off first and eight off third so we had a good chance but, unfortunately, our strategy wasn't right and we got caught on the wrong side of a big shift and it was impossible to catch up from there. It was a bit of a shame to end the regatta on a bad race but we are really happy with the way we fought back after a pretty tough day yesterday."

"It didn't feel like things went our way all regatta," Saunders said. "It felt like we were fighting the whole time just to stay even so it wasn't an easy regatta in that regard but it bodes well for us. We have only just got back together and definitely didn't have as much time in the boat as a few of the other teams ahead of us so we are pretty proud of our efforts and super happy for the other Kiwis who managed to make their first medal race.