Nacra team fourth again, medals missed

Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders missed a World Championships medal by two points. Photo:

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Gemma Jones and Tauranga sailor Jason Saunders fell just sort of picking up a medal after mounted a stirring comeback on the final day of the Nacra World Championships in France overnight (NZ time).

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 Gemma and Jason enjoy, after they were fourth at last year’s Rio Olympics.

"Bittersweet," says Gemma. "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.

Gemma and Jason 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," says Jason. "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 wasn’t the only challenge they have faced all week. The use of gennakers upwind was outlawed on the eve of the regatta, something which they had spent considerable time trying to master, which upset their plans.

"It didn’t feel like things went our way all regatta," says Jason. "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.

"Liv and Micah are definitely the youngest by far in the top 10 so that’s an awesome achievement for them. It’s going to be a good summer in New Zealand to have them as our training partners and we are looking forward to making some big progress because we have a long list of things to work on now."

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.

Olivia and Micah started the day in sixth, only seven points off third, but couldn’t maintain their form of the penultimate day banking a ninth, 22nd and fifth on the final day.

Results and standings after the final day of the Nacra 17 world championships in La Grande Motte, France, overnight (NZ time):

1st: Ben Saxton / Katie Dabson (GBR) 6 4 2 6 5 2 (10) 1 5 4 (UFD) 12 2 2 16 10 11 2 - 92 points

2nd: Fernando Echavarri / Tara Pacheco (ESP) 5 2 7 13 6 4 11 7 (BFD) 5 2 3 1 (19) 5 6 12 3 - 95 pts

3rd: Ruggero Tita / Caterina Banti (ITA) 12 2 10 6 1 2 3 18 10 15 1 1 12 7 18 3 2 (DNF) - 109 pts

4th: Gemma Jones / Jason Saunders (NZL) 3 5 4 (14) 3 7 5 11 2 2 8 (24) 24 14 7 1 1 7 - 111 pts

10h: Olivia Mackay / Micah Wilkinson (NZL) 7 11 (16) 2 14 10 8 2 6 (UFD) 10 5 6 3 4 9 22 5 - 129 pts

Pic: Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders won the first two races on the final day of the Nacra world champs. Photo:

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