NZ sailors win gold and silver at World Cup Series Final
Andy Maloney and Josh Junior go to every regatta looking to finish first and second and, for the first time ever, they achieved that at the Hempel World Cup Series Final in Marseille.
It rounds out a superb European campaign for New Zealand's top Finn sailors, after they collected five medals between them from three regattas. On top of winning in Marseille, Maloney was also first at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma and second at the Finn European championships. Junior was third in Palma and eighth at the Finn Europeans.
They were also second (Junior) and third (Maloney) at last year's World Cup Series Final in Marseille.
There was a somewhat anticlimactic conclusion to this week's event. After a week of predominantly fresh breezes - wind gusts topped 30 knots on a couple of days - the wind failed to emerge for the top 10 medal race and it was called off.
It meant Maloney won the gold by eight points over Junior who was another eight points ahead of Sweden's Max Salminen.
"The Kiwis have had a really good week here in Marseille," Maloney said. "We're making some really good improvements, we're both going really quick and to get one-two is a really good step in the right direction. It's what we set out to do at every regatta but it's cool to pull it off and to keep improving at the same time."
Junior added: "The year has been incredible for us and to finish our last European event with a one-two is the dream end. We have got close a few times and to pull it off is pretty cool.
"Everything is chipping away quite nicely but there are still heaps of things to improve and we have to keep looking, for me especially, at the tactical areas of sailing and we have got some performance gains we think we can make as well. We have to keep pushing forward but things are going really well so we're really excited for the next step."
The pair now head to Japan for a training block before August's Olympic test event and Enoshima World Cup Series event. All roads lead to Tokyo, although only one of them will earn selection for next year's Olympics in the Finn.
Maloney narrowly missed out on a place at the 2016 Olympics, losing out to Sam Meech who went on to win bronze in the Laser in Rio, and switched to the Finn for this Olympic cycle. He works extremely closely with Junior both on and off the water and Junior was best man at Maloney's wedding earlier this year.
"Even in between races we are sharing settings, talking about what worked well and aiming for one-two in each race," Maloney said. "It's working well and we're progressing with each race.
"It's not coming together perfectly. We both have little things we need to work on. If we start nailing those, we can go even better out there on the water. But we are obviously making some good improvements and we need to keep doing that and ticking off the small things along the way and we will be going really nicely in Tokyo."
Most of New Zealand's top Olympic class sailors switch their attentions to Japan for the next three months, although a handful will compete at Kiel Week at the end of June.
Results and standings after day 6 of the Hempel World Cup Series Final in Marseille:
Finn (12 boats)
1st: Andy Maloney (NZL) 2 1 2 1 2 4 1 5 (7) 1 - 19 points
2nd: Josh Junior (NZL) 1 4 1 (13 UFD) 1 2 6 2 1 9 - 27 pts
3rd: Max Salminen (SWE) (11) 2 5 4 4 5 3 6 4 2 - 35 pts