Jo Aleh admits she's a competitive person so is having to temper her expectations but the two-time Olympic medallist is encouraged by the start she made with Molly Meech to their 49erFX international career.
The pair teamed up in the women's skiff earlier this year and sailed their first international event together at the French Olympic Week regatta in Hyeres, finishing 12th in the fleet of 38 boats.
They achieved nine top-10 results across the 15-race series, including a second in qualifying and third in gold fleet, and missed out on the top-10 medal race by only five points.
"It was a pretty good event," said Aleh, who is returning to Olympic sailing after a five-year absence. "It was obviously our first time racing and we just have to remind ourselves that we've been in the boat together about three months, so it's still really fresh.
"We went to Hyeres with the ambition of getting around the course, and we definitely managed that. We had a few really good races and that was what we were hoping, that we would show a little bit of promise and give ourselves a bit of hope that we're on the right track.
"It's obviously still really early days and we have a lot of things to work on - the list is quite long - but that's what the next 18 months, two years is for. We’re enjoying being back on the circuit and looking forward to the rest of the year."
Importantly, New Zealand has two crews competing at the highest level, something that hasn't happened that often in nearly 10 years of international racing in the 49erFX. Alex Maloney and Olivia Hobbs are also a new combination, and were ninth in Hyeres, and the quartet share the same coach and train together.
They are all in Marseille this week, training at the venue to be used for the 2024 Paris Olympics, and will base themselves in Europe for the majority of the northern summer.
The next major event is Kiel Week in June and then July's 49erFX European championships in Denmark before September's world championships in Canada.
Maloney and Hobbs were also buoyed by their result in Hyeres, where they qualified for their first medal race as a combination.
They collected two race wins in fleet racing, along with five other top-five results, and gained valuable experience alongside the international fleet.
"We are really encouraged after the first two events we have done together as a team and have real clarity on what we need to work on," Maloney said. "It’s an exciting place to be at and it feels good to be shaking off the racing rust.
"We're really looking forward to training with the squad in Marseille, so the next time we race we can race exactly how we want to."
- Pic: Jo Aleh and Molly Meech finished an encouraging 12th at the French Olympic Week regatta in Hyeres. Photo: Sailing Energy.