Andy Maloney and Josh Junior made the perfect start to the Hempel World Cup Series Final in Marseille, sitting in first and second in the Finn after the first day of racing.
The pair won a race each in the small 12-boat fleet and backed it up with a good second score to lead the standings over Australia’s Jake Lilley in third.
Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are the only other New Zealanders competing in Marseille and are ninth in the Nacra 17.
Junior and Maloney have fond memories of racing at the venue that will be used for the 2024 Olympic Games, having finished second and third respectively at the same event last year, but the pair have also made a strong start to 2019.
Maloney won the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma and backed it up with second at the Finn European championships, while Junior was third and eighth at the same events to highlight the strength of the New Zealand Finn squad.
They were treated to perfect conditions on the opening day in Marseille – 10-12 knots and warm, sunny conditions – and Maloney and Junior took advantage. Junior won the first race with Maloney in second and Maloney then went on to win the second race with Junior in fourth.
“Both Andy and I had a great day,” Junior said. “We both managed to win one race apiece, so keeping it pretty even and fair, which is nice; although Andy probably has one up with the lead overall which is cool.
“This event is just good for us to get more time on the water and some more racing under our belts. In a weeks’ time we head over to Japan so we are starting to switch our focus towards learning the Olympic venue. But for now it’s really cool to be in Europe and doing a few races in the warm weather. Really enjoying it and looking forward to the rest of the regatta.”
Four-time world champions and French SailGP team members Billy Besson and Marie Riou lead the Nacra 17 fleet after Italy’s Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti were disqualified from the first race of the day.
Tita and Banti had been level with the French after three races but dropped to fourth after their compatriots Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari protested for a port-starboard incident. Great Britain’s John Gimson and Anna Burnet are second and Bissaro and Frascari third.
Jones and Saunders were 11th, 10th and seventh in the three races but have plenty of time left in the regatta to move up the leaderboard.
Results and standings after day 1 of the Hempel World Cup Series Final in Marseille:
Finn (13 boats)
1st: Andy Maloney (NZL) 2 1 – 3 points
2nd: Josh Junior (NZL) 1 4 – 5 pts
3rd: Jake Lilley (AUS) 3 8 – 11 pts
Nacra 17 (24 boats)
1st: Billy Besson / Marie Riou (FRA) 1 1 (5) – 2 pts
2nd: John Gimson / Anna Burnet (GBR) 3 (12) 1 – 4 pts
3rd: Vittorio Bissaro / Maelle Frascari (ITA) (8) 4 2 – 6 pts
9th: Gemma Jones / Jason Saunders (NZL) (11) 10 7 – 17 pts
Photo: Andy Maloney leads the Finn class after the first day or racing. Photo: Sailing Energy / World Sailing.