Saturday, 16 April 2011

Two Gold and One Silver for NZL at ISAF World Cup Regatta, Spain

Nine Kiwi Boats Finish in Top Ten Placings at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE regatta 2011

Sara Winther (NZL), Laser Radial gold medallist, with coach Marko Orams. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher on their way to Gold in the Women's 470. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

Tom Ashley (NZL): silver in Men's RS:X. Image copyright Nico Martinez/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Two gold medals and one silver spell success for the NZL Sailing Team at the first major Olympic class European Regatta of 2011 – the ISAF Sailing World Cup Regatta in Spain.

Both holding the lead going into last night’s medal race, it was the Women’s 470 pair of Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher, and Laser Radial campaigner Sara Winther who secured two gold medals for New Zealand. Tom Ashley has come away with silver in the Men’s RS:X event.

With a five point buffer Sara Winther of the Takapuna Boating Club, needed a solid medal race to keep her rivals at bay.

“The medal race started in about seven knots with small pressure shifts. I had a solid start and played the shifts up the middle. I lead at the top mark, and rounded the bottom gate cleanly then fought it out with Gintare Sheidt from LTU,” explains Winther, delighted with this career topping result.

“Evi [Van Acker] fought back hard and was just on my tail at the top mark, and actually crossed the finish line before me, but I knew I had done enough to secure the regatta.”

“It’s now time for few days break in France before I do it all over again.”

Sara Winther (NZL) and Evi van Acker (BEL) at the start of the Laser Radial medal race. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher had an even better lead going into the medal race with an eight point margin at the top of the Women’s 470 fleet. The kiwis crossed the line in fourth last night putting gold in the bag with a convincing ten point gap to second place.

Aleh and Barbarich-Bacher paired for this regatta with usual crew Polly Powrie recovering from an injury, and expected back in the boat in a few weeks.

Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher win Gold in Palma in the 470W. Image copyright Jesus Renedo/Princesa Sofia/MAPFRE.

Despite a shocker day one at the regatta for Tom Ashley, he vowed to come back, and was true to his word standing on the podium for the silver medal five days later.

“I finished the medal race third and ended up second in the final standings,” says Ashley. “My strategy going into the race was to keep a bit of an eye on the guys behind me and to have as good a race as possible. As it happened, the British sailor who was in second going into today had a terrible race, finishing last and gifting me the silver medal.”

“Overall I'm really happy to have come away from this event with such a good result,” says Ashley for whom this event was a return to top level international competition. “From here our little team travels back to Spain for a week of training and equipment testing in Murcia, then to Hyeres in France for the second World Cup event.”

Beyond the medals the NZL Sailing Team comes away from this ISAF Sailing World Cup event with two fourth places as well – for Dan Slater in the Finn, and Sam Meech in the Laser.

Seasoned campaigner Slater has this to report: “Overall I finished 4th and am happy with the way the regatta went. I still have lots of things to work on that will improve my performance.”

For young Sam Meech, who was a Youth Worlds Gold medallist just two years ago, this result will count as a career highlight to date. This is his first top five at a major European event competing at senior level in the hotly contested Laser event.

There were three more starters in the Laser medal race wearing the fern including Andrew Murdoch, who finished sixth, Andy Maloney just behind in seventh and Mike Bullot wrapping up the regatta in ninth position.

The NZL Sailing Team sailors all gave credit and thanks to their supporting coaches who included Mark Howard, Mark Orams, Nathan Handley, Hamish Wilcox and Dave Robertson who have been in Palma de Mallorca, Spain with the team.

The next major event on the Olympic class calendar is the fourth of seven regattas which make up the ISAF Sailing World Cup series, known as Semaine Olympique Francaise. An even larger contingent of kiwis is expected to be at this next regatta which runs from 21-29 April in Hyeres, France.

Images of the New Zealand’s medallists in action are available on the regatta website with TV quality footage available on FTP through the event press team. ( or

New Zealand’s Final Results

Men’s RS:X (66 entries)
2nd Tom Ashley
20th Antonio Cozzolino

Laser Radial (78 entries)
1st Sara Winther

Women’s 470 (49 entries)
1st Jo Aleh and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher

Men’s 470 (84 entries)
18th Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders

Finn (83 entries)
4th Dan Slater
35th Matt Coutts

Women’s RS:X (33 entries)
31st Stephanie Williams

Laser (127 entries)
4th Sam Meech
6th Andrew Murdoch
7th Andy Maloney
9th Mike Bullot
55th Josh Junior

Women’s Match Racing
5th Koru Match: Stephanie Hazard, Jenna Hansen and Susannah Pyatt

Yachting New Zealand
Trofeo Princesa Sofia MAPFRE