New Zealand sailors star at Sail Auckland regatta

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 19:13 04/02/2014

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Star crews Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie and Peter Burling and Blair Tuke led a strong New Zealand yachting contingent to glory in the Sail Auckland international regatta today.

The world champion pairings dominated the 470 and 49er classes respectively.

Even more dominant was windsurfer Jean-Paul Tobin and kite-surfer Torrin Bright who both made clean sweeps of racing in their divisions on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.

Aleh and Powrie were delighted with their effort, believing it will set them up well for what promises to be another busy year as the Rio campaign and the defence of their Olympic gold gathers momentum.

Sailing against men's opposition, they led the fleet into the final day and completed their domination with a second and two firsts in the last three races.

Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox placed second overall with James Turner and Luke Stevenson finishing up in third making it a kiwi podium all round in the event.

"We had good day, another solid day and that's all we needed to do," Powrie said.

"It's been great for us its early on in our preparations for the year and it pointed out all our rusty spots so we've managed to take the kinks out throughout the week and its really nice to come away with a win."

Powrie anticipated the rivalry between them and Snow-Hansen and Willcox will resume soon.

"We have National Champs in a couple of weeks up in Kerikeri so it'll be all on for that no doubt."

Burling and Tuke simply had too much class for their opponents, wrapping up their title with a clean string of wins on the final day to take the 49er title by a convincing 17 point margin.

"It was pretty interesting racing, pretty shifty, but we managed to come out on the right side of it a fair few times so we've been happy with the week and the boat was going well," Burling said.

They will now switch their attention to the A-class catamaran world championships which start tomorrow off Takapuna. It's a strong fleet, including Team New Zealand America's Cup sailors Ray Davies and Glenn Ashby.

The event starts with the New Zealand championships where Tuke defends his title before the official worlds start on Tuesday.

49erFX world champions Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech also showed their class, winning eight of the 14 races to finish six points clear.

Holland's Rutger Van Schaardenburg won the Laser class while two-time Kiwi Olympian Andrew Murdoch fought back to win the Finn title from Josh Junior.

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- Fairfax Media

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