New Zealand might have had only two sailors competing at the World Cup Series final in Marseille but both collected medals overnight (NZ time) with Josh Junior taking silver and Andy Maloney bronze in the Finn.
For a time today, it looked like it could have been even better. Junior started the top-10 medal race only one point behind Jorge Zarif, meaning that if he could beat the Brazilian and not finish too far down the field he would claim gold.
Both Junior and Maloney got good starts, leading up the first beat before a big right-hand shift lifted Zarif, who had started poorly, into the lead. "This time I was lucky," admitted Zarif who then sailed away to win the race.
"The breeze came in better than expected and we had a great race but we just got unlucky up the first beat and that made the race pretty tough," said Junior, who was ninth in the medal race. "But I’m pretty stoked to end up second overall and it’s awesome to have two Kiwis on the podium."
Maloney's journey there today was filled with drama. He started the day in fourth, two points behind Turkey's Alican Kaynar, and seemed to have bronze under control until Kaynar caught Maloney on the final downwind. To complicate matters, Maloney also needed to finish within two places of Frenchman Johnathan Lobert.
Lobert was fifth, Maloney seventh and Kaynar 10m behind in eighth.
"It was pretty tense in those final moments on the final run," Maloney said. "We were all giving it 100 percent and it was coming down to overlaps at the bottom gate for the reach to the finish line. I was pretty happy to beat Alican in the race and stay within enough of the French guy.
"It’s really pleasing to come away with third overall but I think the most pleasing thing overall is just what we have been trying to work on all week and how that is playing out. We have made some good improvements since we have been in Europe and that’s pretty cool to see."
The pair went into the regatta not putting too much onus on results as they searched for more race practice following their return to Olympic class sailing after helping Emirates Team New Zealand win the America's Cup. They sailed consistently well all week, claiming three race wins between them, and never sat outside the top four overall.
"We are definitely sailing better and better," Junior said. "We put a lot of emphasis on starting this week and we achieved some good things there. From now we can probably start to look at some decision making and how we can improve that.
"I think things are tracking really well and we just want to keep improving and hopefully the results show that as we move towards [August's] world championships in Aarhus."
Junior and Maloney now head to Kiel Week in Germany, which is one of the biggest regattas on the Olympic class circuit and where a much bigger Kiwi contingent will assemble.
Results and standings after the final day of the World Cup Series final in Marseille overnight (NZ time):
Finn (13 boats)
1st: Jorge Zarif (BRA) 1 7 1 7 5 5 2 (8) 2 2 2 - 34 points
2nd: Josh Junior (NZL) 2 5 2 (10) 4 2 10 1 6 1 18 - 51 pts
3rd: Andy Maloney (NZL) 7 3 5 5 1 3 4 (12) 8 5 14 - 55 pts
Full results can be found here.