NZ Nacra 17 crew finish just shy of podium finish at World Champs despite late surge




A late surge hasn't been enough as New Zealand crew Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders finished a familiar fourth at the Nacra 17 world championships.

New Zealand's Gemma Jones, left, and Jason Saunders compete during the Nacra 17 mixed race.

New Zealand's Gemma Jones, left, and Jason Saunders compete during the Nacra 17 mixed race.

Source: Associated Press

It was deja vu for Jones and Saunders, who were a narrow fourth at the Rio Olympics a year ago.

They were narrowly denied a place on the podium at La Grande-Motte in France on Sunday, finishing two points short of bronze.

Eighth overall heading into the final day, they stormed into contention by winning two of the three remaining fleet races, revelling in the strongest winds of the week.

However, they could only finish seventh in the double-point medal race. One place higher would have lifted them past Italian bronze medallists Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti.

Ben Saxton and Katie Dabson of Great Britain did enough to clinch gold, finishing second in the medal race to pip Spanish rivals.

Saunders says he and Jones paid for a tactical error in the medal race but otherwise felt positive about progress made at the regatta.

Last-minute changes announced by organisers to the make-up of the Olympic class foiling catamarans - namely the outlawing of upwind gennakers - took some adjustment.

"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," Saunders said.

"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."

Meanwhile, fellow-Kiwis Olivia Mackay and Michah Wilkinson dropped four places to 10th, having surged into the medal hunt on the penultimate day.

They were fourth, ninth and 22nd in the last fleet races before placing fifth in the medal race.

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