Nacra 17 pair speed up the leaderboard at Palma World Cup

Friday 8 April 2022, 12:56PM

By Yachting New Zealand


Micah Wikinson and Erica Dawson notched two second placings in racing today in the Nacra 17.
Micah Wikinson and Erica Dawson notched two second placings in racing today in the Nacra 17. Credit: Sailing Energy / World Sailing.

Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson used their pace downwind to good effect today to put themselves in contention in the Nacra 17 after day four of the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma.

The Tokyo Olympians are the best placed of the Kiwis at this year's first Hempel World Cup Series event and sit in sixth, with Tom Saunders ninth in the ILCA 7 (Laser) and Veerle ten Have ninth in the women's iQFoil windfoiling. 

Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn are 14th in the 49er but need to make up only four points tomorrow to qualify for the top 10 medal race. It's been a challenging week for the pair after Dunning Beck suffered a painful rib injury in training on the eve of the regatta.

Wilkinson and Dawson enjoyed the beautiful sailing conditions off Palma today, complete with sunshine, a steady onshore breeze and nice waves. They're the sort of conditions they chased throughout the New Zealand summer and their hard work seems to be paying. off.

They started the day with a 15th (their drop for the regatta) but backed it up with two seconds and a fifth to make good progress up the leaderboard. They're 26 points behind the Finnish combination in third but still have a chance of climbing onto the podium with one more day of fleet racing before the top 10, double points medal race.

"It was a better day for us," Dawson said. "The last race was pretty epic. We port tacked the fleet and managed to cross so that was pretty exciting. Unfortunately, the Italians got us at the top of the last beat but overall it was a good day."

Wilkinson said they needed to find a click of speed against the top crews upwind but was encouraged by their speed downwind, although finding that speed has taken its toll.

"Our downwinds are our strength," he said. "We pushed hard over the summer to increase our speed downwind in the big stuff. Erica got a concussion in December and broke her finger in January in crashes while training in heavy conditions.

"It's nice to see some of that mahi paying off but we have plenty more in the tank."

Saunders will be hoping to find some of that speed tomorrow after another frustrating day on the ILCA 7 course. The world champion was 15th and 36th in today's two gold fleet races and slipped two places to ninth. 

He's still in contention in a highly-competitive fleet but knows time is running out.

"The results speak for themselves today," he said. "It was really nice conditions out there but I'm just not quite firing. I'm still hanging in there, which is pleasing. Tomorrow looks great again, I just need to execute. It's as simple as that."

Veerle ten Have continues to impress in the women's iQFoil in her first international event in more than two years and on the new equipment that will be used at the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

She backed up her race win yesterday with three results in and around the top 10, including a second placing in the final race of the day to further highlight her potential.

Josh Armit has also performed well in the men's iQFoil and sits in 28th while Thomas Crook is second in the silver fleet after posting five top-five results today including a race win. Crook finds himself in illustrious company with Olympic champion Kiran Badloe only three points ahead in the silver fleet.

This week has been about checking in for their entire New Zealand squad in Palma after so long in the wilderness. For former Olympic silver medallist Alex Maloney, the Princess Sofia Regatta also represents her first international event with new 49erFX partner Olivia Hobbs.

The pair climbed a few places today in the first day of racing in the gold fleet but had a bit of drama to start the day.

"We had a bit of a hectic day with a bit of gear failure onshore so we were in a bit of a rush to make it to the first start," Maloney said. "We just made it with a tow from a coach.

"The day was about having good boat speed and keeping it simple. We had some really good moments but also some where we lost a few points but I feel like all the mistakes we can identify and it's the first time we are making those mistakes as a team."