Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox took advantage of the drama that unfolded around them at the 470 world championships in Japan yesterday to finish second in the medal race and climb up to eighth overall.
Most interest was in the showdown between Australia's Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan and Spain's Jordi Xammar and Nicolas Rodriguez, who went into the medal race separated by only one point and guaranteed to finish in the top two.
They dueled in the pre-start but that was the end of the match racing when both were among four boats over the start line at the gun. The Australian crew guessed they had misjudged the start and went back to clear their penalty but the other three continued only to be disqualified, handing a fifth world title to Mathew and Will. (Mathew has won it three other times with Malcolm Page).
Paul and Dan sailed a tidy race to finish second and that, together with disqualifications also handed out to Japan and France, saw them climb two places to finish eighth overall. The result comes on the back of their win at the World Cup Series regatta in Genoa and third-placed finish at the 470 European championships in San Remo.
"We just wanted to go out there and perform as best we could and execute our plan and we did that pretty well today and managed to get second and finish the regatta off in style," says Dan. "We are happy with that.
"It's been a great season for us this year. To come away with a top eight in Enoshima, we are happy with that, but there are definitely a few areas that we go exposed in here. We are pretty excited to go back home and work on those in our summer time."
Before that, however, the pair will compete along with the rest of the New Zealand team at the upcoming Olympic test event, which is a dress rehearsal for the Tokyo Games which are now just under 12 months away. New Zealand will be represented in six of the 10 Olympic classes.
"The test event is our pinnacle event this year," says Dan. "We are going to shoot home tonight and have some days to switch off and get our heads back in the game so when we come back in four days we are ready to rumble.
"Racing is going to be different with smaller fleets like it will be at the Olympics and that often suits us Kiwis, I think. We are really looking forward to the week coming up."
They will go in with a better idea of what to expect at the Olympic venue in Enoshima both on and off the water, not least of all ways to manage the sometimes-oppressive heat. They were also treated to some of the best sailing Enoshima can offer with moderate sea breezes and big waves.
"It's great yachting when the wind comes in," says Paul. "It's an enjoyable venue with great waves to surf. When it turns it on, it can't get better than that."
Susannah Pyatt and Brianna Reynolds-Smith qualified the women's 470 for New Zealand for the Tokyo Olympics when they finished 15th overall. They weren't involved in yesterday's top-10 medal race, when Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre secured gold ahead of Ai Kondo Yashida and Miho Yoshioka from Japan.
Results and standings after day 6 of the 470 world championships in Enoshima, Japan:
Men (52 boats)
1st: Mathew Belcher / Will Ryan (AUS) 4 4 2 1 2 2 2 3 3 (5) 1 6 - 30 points
2nd: Jordi Xammar / Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) 5 (9) 1 1 1 1 7 1 1 1 4 22 OCS - 45 points
3rd: Anton Dahlberg / Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) 3 2 6 2 5 5 9 2 (11) 9 9 2 - 54 pts
8th: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) (24) 1 2 2 10 15 19 11 7 12 13 4 - 96 pts
Women (39 boats)
1st: Hannah Mills / Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) 1 (18) 1 9 9 1 2 1 16 4 4 14 - 62 pts
2nd: Ai Kondo Yashida / Miho Yoshioka (JPN) 10 2 3 1 (15) 10 1 2 12 5 3 16 - 65 pts
3rd: Camile Lecointre / Aloise Retornaz (FRA) (26) 4 5 12 1 20 9 3 6 3 1 8 - 72 pts
15th: Susannah Pyatt / Brianna Reynolds-Smith (NZL) (36) 26 32 19 11 18 19 14 8 13 5 - 163 pts