ILCA world championships end early for Gautrey

George Gautrey in action at the ILCA 7 world championships. Photo: John Pounder.

Frustration was the order of the day for New Zealand's top two ILCA 7 (Laser) sailors at the world championships in Mexico for very different reasons.

George Gautrey went into the second day in fourth but has struggled physically as he battles the after-effects of Covid-19.

He sailed impressively to remain in the top 15 but the physical toll, compounded by moderate 15-20 knot winds that routinely buffet Banderas Bay in Mexico on top of 30-degree heat, left Gautrey contemplating his future in the event.

"In both races I was well within a shot to get a top-five result but just had no juice in the tank,"says George. "Unfortunately, I've made the call to retire from the event. It's not a decision I have taken lightly but, given the circumstances, it is the only logical decision.

"It’s uber-frustrating considering the last three years and I was finally starting to feel like I was getting back into some form but there’s plenty of yachting to come in the next three years. The stubborn Wellingtonian in me wants to keep going but I need to look after my health long-term."

Defending world champion Tom Saunders sits 17th overall after scores of 19th and 12th today and is hoping for a better final day of qualifying today

Tom Saunders in action at the ILCA 7 world championships. Photo: John Pounder.

The leaderboard is incredibly tight - only three points separate the top six sailors - and most have a reasonably high score already posted as their drop for their worst result meaning anyone in the top 30 is well within range.

"I’m not quite getting the strategy right so we just need to re-tweak that a little bit for the next few days," says Tom. "I’m finding myself on the back foot at the first mark and it’s really hard to catch up. I did well to make up quite a few places but I’m burning a lot of matches to get there and I don’t want to keep doing that.

"I'm going fast, so that's always nice, and there’s still a long way to go. It would just be nice to have some stress-free racing tomorrow, more mentally than physically. Those little things can keep compounding if you have to grind your way through."

All of the main contenders are bunched inside the top 20, except for Olympic champion Matt Wearn who withdrew on the opening day as he battles illness. France's Jean-Baptiste Bernaz holds a slim three-point lead over five sailors all locked on the same score, including two-time Olympic silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic.

Two other Kiwis are in the fleet of 126 sailors, with Luke Cashmore 82nd and Luke Deegan 93rd.

Results and standings after day 2 of the ILCA 7 world championships in Mexico (126 boats):

1st: Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) (19) 3 2 3 - 8 points
2nd: Daniel Whiteley (GBR) 8 (27) 1 2 - 11 pts
3rd: Elliot Hanson (GBR) 6 (26) 4 1 - 11 pts

15th: George Gautrey (NZL) 3 6 (23) 15 - 24 pts
17th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 4 10 (19) 12 - 26 pts
82nd: Luke Cashmore (NZL) 37 34 34 (39) - 105 pts
93rd: Luke Deegan (NZL) 42 (52) 40 38 - 120 pts

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