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NZL Sailing Team: Saunders moves into contention - jumps 11 places on Day 4

by Michael Brown / Yachting NZ 27 May 2022 01:08 BST 27 May 2022
Tom Saunders - (NZL) - Day 4 - ILCA 7 World Championships - Vallarta, Mexico - May 2022 © John Pounder/www.jldigitalmedia.zenfolio.com

Tom Saunders had felt he wasn't far off clicking in the early stages of the ILCA 7 world championships and it all came together for him on Day 4 in Mexico.

Saunders jumped 11 places to third overall on the back of a fourth and a first in today's two races sailed in 10-15 knots. France's Jean-Baptiste Bernaz has opened up a handy lead at the front but, as witnessed elsewhere in gold fleet, points can accumulate very quickly on the back of a couple of deeper scores.

Saunders felt like he battled a little throughout the three days of qualifying, often relying on his speed to make up crucial places after rounding the top mark deeper than he would have liked.

But today was a different story and the second race in particular was "stress-free" as he led most of the way around the course.

"It feels like things are starting to click," the defending world champion said. "I have a better tactical understanding of what is happening and tried to simplify things a little bit. I had two great starts today and put myself in better positions to attack up the front and I had some wheels downwind so made up a few points there as well.

"Trusting my instincts was a big thing today and it was nice to be up the front, especially in that last race. It was nice to let my speed do some good work rather than trying to catch up.

"Even though the Frenchman had a good day as well, as we saw today, it’s pretty crazy how many points you can make up or lose in one day of gold fleet racing. With four more races left, I still feel like I’m in with a shot."

World titles are won on the back of consistently good scores and working in Saunders' favour is the fact his drop so far for his worst result of the regatta is the equal-best of anyone in the fleet.

Some of the other contenders struggled today, but they're all still in the fight with less than 20 points separating second from 10th.

Of the other Kiwis, Luke Deegan is 24th in silver fleet and Luke Cashmore 28th. George Gautrey withdrew from the competition after day two as he battles the after-effects of Covid.

Results and standings after day 4 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 - 17 points 2nd: Jonatan Vadnai (HUN) 2 2 11 7 1 6 14 (24) - 43 pts 3rd: Tom Saunders (NZL) 4 10 (19) 12 13 4 4 1 - 48 pts

63rd: George Gautrey (NZL) 3 6 23 15 (64 DNC) 64 DNC 64 DNC 64 DNC - 239 pts

Silver fleet (63 boats)

24th: Luke Deegan (NZL) 42 (52) 40 38 46 30 16 28 - 240 pts 28th: Luke Cashmore (NZL) 37 34 34 39 40 (45) 26 36 - 246 pts

Full results here...

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