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Good as gold! Kiwis claim inaugural foiling title

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Fresh from their season-best performance at the sailing world championships in the Netherlands, Jo Aleh and Molly Meech have swapped the 49erFX for a foiling monohull and taken out the inaugural 69F Women Foiling Gold Cup at Lake Garda.

The duo, who last month finished sixth at the world champs to secure New Zealand a country spot in the class at next year's Olympic Games, and teammate Erica Dawson beat nine other crews to claim the title on Monday.

While conditions robbed Aleh and Meech of the chance to climb up the leaderboard with the abandonment of their medal race due to light breeze on the final day of competition in The Hague, it played some part in helping them secure their first foiling success in Italy.

After three days of fast-paced foiling action, fading wind on the final day prompted a return to traditional sailing, with only two upwind-downwind races able to be concluded.

Aleh, Meech and Dawson, competing as VMG Racing, advanced to a winner-take-all match race for the trophy - where they beat Team Profand Spain.

Team Società Velica Barcola e Grignano was third, followed by Team Jajo DutchSail, American Magic 1, and American Magic 2.

The four teams that did not make the gold fleet were Women’s AC Team Germany, Team Australia Challenge, Orient Express, and Team Canada Women’s America’s Cup Team.


Jo Aleh, Molly Meech and Erica Dawson won the inaugural 69F Women Foiling Gold Cup. Photos / Kevin Rio, 69F Media

Aleh said their experience in the 49erFX was an advantage once the teams were unable to foil.

"We truly enjoyed the racing, both foiling downwind and upwind. Today we went back to what we know better, it was like being on a heavier 49er. We went back to basics with a solid race plan and pumping," she said.

"It was great racing and a really fun boat to sail. We learned a lot throughout the week, and we still have a long way to go, and a lot more to practice, but we had an awesome team here with Erica and Molly."

The event also offered a glimpse into what could be expected at next year's inaugural Women's America's Cup.

Aleh, Meech and Dawson have all been included on Emirates Team New Zealand's shortlist of sailors for the event in Barcelona, which will run alongside the 37th battle for the Auld Mug in September and October 2024.

The final team will be selected later this year.

"This was our first week sailing the 69F, and we loved it. It’s definitely a different style, but it still made for exciting racing," said Aleh.

"Hopefully, we can get more teams to participate [in future] because it’s awesome to race with the girls. Additionally, it looks like many of these teams will be part of the Women’s America’s Cup in Barcelona.

"We’re not certain if we’ll be there yet, but hopefully we will, and this event serves as an excellent testing ground.”

Full results here.