Josh Junior won his first races of the European season overnight (NZ time) which put him in a strong position to win his first regatta of the season.
The 28-year-old banked two wins out of the three races sailed in the Finn class at the World Cups Series final in Marseille to climb up from fourth to second. He's now only one point behind Brazilian Jorge Zarif ahead of tonight's top-10 medal race meaning if he wins the race he wins the regatta.
Andy Maloney is still in with a chance of claiming the title as well, sitting nine points behind Zarif in fourth, but would need all of the cards to fall his way in the double-points race.
He went into the penultimate day in second but had issues with his boat setup and struggled for speed all day, finishing 12th, eighth and fifth to slip behind the leaders. Maloney is only two points behind Turkey's Alican Kaynar in third so a medal is well within his grasp.
Medals were not really the main objective for both Junior and Maloney at the start of the week as they continue to look for race practice after taking 18 months out of Olympic class sailing for the America's Cup but they'll be on the agenda tonight.
Neither can afford to really target any rivals so they'll both aim to win the race and worry about the points later.
"It’s going to be awesome practice for both Andy and I to be in another medal race," Junior said. "There are not many points between first and fourth so anyone could really win it, which is exciting. It’s going to be a good race. Hopefully we end up with a Kiwi one-two."
The forecast is for an 8-10 knot offshore breeze off Marseille which should make it quite shifty. Junior did a good job today in similar conditions to post two wins and a sixth in the small 13-boat fleet.
"I have just been getting better and better starts," he said. "It was a bit of a one-way track out to the left-hand side today and I did a good job of getting off the line cleanly and going really fast that way and sort of led from there, which made it easy."
Maloney didn't help himself with his boat setup to have his worst results of the regatta.
"I didn't set my boat up perfectly today and lacked a little speed off the line to get to the favoured left side of the course," he said. "I battled pretty hard to get a few average results. I'll definitely learn from my setup errors today and try not make those same mistakes again in the future.
"I'm still in the hunt for the podium going into the medal race tomorrow, so I'll try to execute a flawless race and see how the points stack up at the end of the day."
Maloney and Junior are the only New Zealand sailors competing at the World Cup Series final, with most of this country's top Olympic class sailor targeting the upcoming Kiel Week instead as they prepare for August's sailing world championships in Denmark.
Results and standings after the fifth 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 - 32 points
2nd: Josh Junior (NZL) 2 5 2 (10) 4 2 10 1 6 1 - 33 pts
3rd Alican Kaynar (TUR) 5 2 (14 UFD) 13 2 1 1 2 9 4 - 39 pts
4th: Andy Maloney (NZL) 7 3 5 5 1 3 4 (12) 8 5 - 41 pts
Full results can be found here.