Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn overcame a rare weather phenomenon and technical difficulties to beat a star-studded fleet to silver at their first international regatta of the year.
The Kiwi 49er pair went into the medal race at the 2023 Lanzarote International Regatta overnight 16 points behind Brits James Peters and Fynn Sterritt but battled poor visibility from the 'Calima' - a thick dust layer over the Canary Islands – and gennaker trouble to finish the race in 14th place.
It was enough, however, to hang on to second overall, with Austrians Keanu Prettner and Jakob Flachberger taking bronze.
Dunning Beck and Gunn claimed top 10 finishes in six of the seven earlier races, winning race 7, before the dust swept in from the nearby Saharan coast, forcing the cancellation of all scheduled races on Monday.
"It was pretty interesting sailing in a dust storm for the first time with low visibility and we were having to come up with some new ways to figure out where the top mark is because you couldn’t really see it 'til you were sort of two-thirds of the way up the beat," Dunning Beck said.
"It’s a bit like sailing in fog but it's also hard on your lungs – you're not really feeling great and everything's quite red and glary."
The Kiwis lost valuable ground against their rivals after picking up a knot in their gennaker retrieval line at the leeward mark.
"That put us right out of it but it was good to get a second place, sailing in a small but a pretty high-quality fleet – with only a few of the best guys missing.
"Lining up in a race is always better than lining up on the side. You know everyone's giving it 100 per cent and you get a really good evaluation of where you're at."
Dunning Beck and Gunn, along with Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie, are vying for the single 49er entry at next year’s Paris Olympic Games vacated by three-time Olympic medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke turning their focus to the America’s Cup instead.
McHardie and McKenzie finished 11th overall in the 29-boat fleet, just outside a spot in the medal race, after scoring 14, 10, 14 on the second day of competition.
Dunning Beck is encouraged by the progress he and Gunn have made since their seventh place at the 49er world championships in Canada late last year.
"We’ve had a good period at home and it's setting up to be a really good season running into the Olympics next year," he said.
"We'll just keep trying to do what we've been doing as it's been working well over the last six months. Both of us have made some big jumps and there's still plenty to work on, which is really exciting."
Meanwhile, Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson line up in the Nacra 17 competition at the same regatta overnight Tuesday.
"We have been training hard over here in Lanzarote, right up until this event. We're looking forward to switching to race mode for our last week on the island before returning home," Wilkinson said.
"It's great to be racing in Europe as early as February and we want to hit the ground running with a podium finish."
Results and standings at the 2023 Lanzarote International Regatta:
49er fleet (29 boats):
1st: James Peters/Fynn Sterritt (GBR) 4 3 2 2 3 (23) 3 8 - 25 points
2nd: Logan Dunning Beck/Oscar Gunn (NZL) (15) 7 8 8 7 2 1 14 - 47 pts
3rd: Keanu Prettner/Jakob Flachberger (AUT) 9 1 1 (26) 6 17 10 6 - 50 pts
49er FX fleet (30 boats):
1st: Freya Black/Saskia Tidey (GBR) 1 (12) 2 4 1 8 - 16 pts
2nd: Jana Germani/Giorgia Bertuzzi (ITA) 5 (6) 1 1 6 6 - 19 pts
3rd: Stephanie Roble/Maggie Shea (USA) 4 (18) 3 8 4 2 - 21 pts
470 mixed fleet (31 boats):
1st: Jordi Xammar/Nora Brugman (ESP) 3 12 1 2 2 (33 DNC) 8 12 - 43 pts
2nd: Silvia Mas Depares/ Nicolás Rodriguez Garcia-Paz (ESP) 1 7 7 8 8 6 5 (10) 2 - 45 pts
3rd: Anton Dahlberg/Lovisa Karlsson (SWE) 7 5 1 2 1 9 1 (33 UFD) 20 - 46pts
Full results here.