Peter Burling and Blair Tuke banked two races wins on the first day of the world championships. Photo credit Sailing Energy.

Some of New Zealand’s top sailors felt more like gardeners today as they had to contend with thick seaweed when racing got under way at the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships in Geelong.

The Nacra 17 fleet, in particular, had clumps of seaweed wrapping around their foils as they raced which slowed the boats down. 

Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson emerged as the top Kiwis after the first three races, sitting in fourth in the 34-boat fleet off the back of three top-10 results. Liv Mackay and Jason Saunders are ninth and Gemma Jones and Josh Porebski 20th.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are well in contention in the 49er class after winning two of their three races and the defending world champions finished the day in third overall, two points behind the leaders.

Markus Somerville and Jack Simpson were the next best of the Kiwis in 12th, with Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn 13th.

Racing was delayed until the breeze settled in, which meant the 49ers didn’t finish until after 7pm local time. Racing had been due to get under way yesterday but it was abandoned due to strong winds and those unsettled conditions delivered an unwanted byproduct.

“We had seaweed all over the course which was having a big effect,” Wilkinson said. “We’ve got four foils in the water and as soon as you get a little bit on it effects the boat in a big way. I think the boats that did well were the ones who cleared the seaweed the best.

“We were clearing off the weed while we raced. During the first race, we were going around the boat and just pulling it off the foils. When it got windier you were flying the foils out of the water on the windward side and hoping it dropped off. We even did a reverse tack at one point. 

“We had a pretty good day today. They say you can easily lose the regatta on the first day so we are really happy to have a solid start.”

Burling and Tuke were also satisfied with their start, collecting two races wins and a fifth but there were a handful of tricky moments, especially in the second race when they found themselves near the back of the field.

“We didn’t have the best start in the middle race and would have been about 20th at the top mark but the breeze was going all over the place, with big puffs and we managed to get a fair few on the run,” Burling said.

Tuke added: “A big rain cloud came through in the second race which shook things up a little bit. I think it was a 1, 5, 1 for us. It could have been better but, all in all, a good start.”

There is one more day of qualifying before the 49ers are split into gold, silver and bronze fleets. The Nacras are sailing as one fleet.

The Laser world championships also got under way today across town and they, too, were delayed as they waited for the breeze to fill in. Sam Meech banked two fifths to be 11th overall, with Tom Saunders not far behind in 13th.

“The racing was pretty difficult,” Meech said. “There were moments when I was close but just couldn’t quite get through the pack to get right to the front. But I am happy with the first day to get it under way and not have any shockers. It’s a long regatta, especially if it’s that difficult, because it was pretty shifty even though we got decent breeze.”

Results and standings from the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships in Geelong:

49er (78) boats

1st: Dylan Fletcher-Scott / Stuart Bithell (GBR) 1 1 2 – 4 points
2nd: Benjamin Bildstein / David Hussl (AUT) 2 1 2 – 5 pts
3rd: Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) 1 5 1 – 7 pts 

12th: Markus Somerville / Jack Simpson (NZL) 9 7 4 – 20 pts
13th: Logan Dunning Beck / Oscar Gunn (NZL) 8 2 12 – 22 pts
30th: Isaac McHardie / William McKenzie (NZL) 5 7 20 – 32 pts
36th: Jackson Keon / Scott McKenzie (NZL) 15 9 10 – 34 pts
56th: Lewis Anderson / Reece Caulfield (NZL) 9 19 26 – 54 pts
63rd: Sam Morgan / Pat Morgan (NZL) 22 16 19 – 57 pts
65th: Sam Bacon / Henry Gautrey (NZL) 17 24 19 – 60 pts
66th: Campbell Stanton / Will Shapland (NZL) – 21 23 19 – 63 pts

49erFX (44 boats)

1st: Tina Lutz / Lotta Wiemers (GER) 1 2 2 – 5 pts
2nd: Tess Lloyd / Jaime Ryan (AUS) 6 3 1 – 10 pts
3rd: Tamara Echegoyen / Paula Barcelo (ESP) 5 1 4 – 10 pts

42nd: Crystal Sun / Olivia Hobbs (NZL) 21 21 17 – 59 pts

Nacra 17 (34 boats)

1st: John Gimson / Anna Burnet (GBR) 10 1 1 – 12 pts
2nd: Nathan Outteridge / Haylee Outteridge (AUS) 1 2 10 – 13 pts
3rd: Tara Pacheco van Rijnsoever / Florian Trittel (ESP) 2 7 6 – 15 pts

4th: Micah Wilkinson / Erica Dawson (NZL) 8 4 5 – 17 pts
9th: Liv Mackay / Jason Saunders (NZL) 9 16 9 – 34 pts
20th: Gemma Jones / Josh Porebski (NZL) 7 26 25 – 58 pts
31st: Helena Sanderson / Henry Haslett (NZL) 28 32 31 – 91 pts

Full results

Results and standings from the Laser world championships in Melbourne:

Laser (124 boats)

1st: Finn Alexander (AUS) 2 1 – 3 pts
2nd: Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) 1 2 – 3 pts
3rd: Philipp Buhl (GER) 4 1 – 5 pts

11th: Sam Meech (NZ) 5 5 – 10 pts
13th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 3 9 – 12 pts
42nd: Josh Armit (NZL) 8 21 – 29 pts
48th: George Gautrey (NZL) 14 18 – 32 pts
100th: Luke Deegan (NZL) 32 32 – 64 pts

Full results