Kiwis were near the front of the fleet on the opening day of the iQFOIL European Championships after battling the world’s leading competitors in strong breeze and choppy seas in Patras, Greece.
Veerle ten Have, Thomas Crook and Josh Armit all secured top-10 positions following the first four qualifying heats in the second big regatta of the international windfoiling season.
Ten Have managed consistent scores of 8, 2, 7 and 4 to sit seventh overall in the 89-board women’s competition, in her first event since winning bronze in the season-opening Princess Sofia Regatta in Spain last month.
“It was a solid enough start to the regatta. We had around 20 knots on the course, with long death reaches at the top and the bottom to the finish which took a lot of energy,” ten Have said.
“I had good speed and starts which helped with positioning throughout the race as it was a one-way race track.”
The 22-year-old Tauranga sailor is only nine points behind leader Sara Wennekes of the Netherlands, with British pair Emma Wilson and Islay Watson rounding out the top three.
Crook was the standout in the men’s fleet, combining good starts with strong board handling to claim three top 10s in his four heats, including a second in his second race, for a ninth overall.
He is one point ahead of compatriot Josh Armit, who narrowly missed out on a medal in Spain.
Patrick Haybittle (24th) and Eli Liefting (40th) are the other members of the New Zealand squad competing in Greece.
“It’s nice to come out of the blocks on the first day with a few keepers,” Crook said.
“It was super windy out there, so it was good to get some consistency and get off the start line.”
Crook finished 28th at the Princess Sofia and showed promising signs with a fourth place at the pre-test event in Patras last week.
“It’s still early days but it was encouraging to see that some of the work we’ve been doing back home start to pay off,” he said.
Yachting New Zealand Olympic coach Nathan Handley praised the Kiwis’ efforts in conditions they haven’t faced at a top-level regatta since the world championships in Brest, France in October.
“The guys had a lot on with big puff and plenty of chop. The wind range was very much top end for this class with 17 to 26 knots,” Handley said.
“We weren't too sure how it was going to go as we haven't lined up against the best in the world in any real breeze since the last day in Brest. But, overall, we’re happy with the start – it’s always good to get the first one out of the way.”
Results and standings after day 1 of the IQFOIL European championships in Patras, Greece.
Women’s fleet (89 boards)
1st: Sara Wennekes (Ned) (2) 1 2 1 - 4 points
2nd: Emma Wilson (GBR) 1 (3) 1 3 - 5 pts
3rd: Islay Watson (GBR) (5) 3 3 2 - 8 pts
7th: Veerle ten Have (NZ) (8) 2 7 4 - 13 pts
Men's fleet (114 boards)
1st: Nicolas Goyard (Fra) 1 1 1 (24) - 3 pts
2nd: Sebastian Koerdel (Ger) 2 (9) 2 1 - 5 pts
3rd: Luuc van Opzeeland (Ned) (3) 2 2 3 - 7 pts
9th: Thomas Crook (NZ) 6 2 5 (17) - 13 pts
10th: Josh Armit (NZ) (10) 5 6 3 -14 pts
24th: Patrick Haybittle (NZ) 16 (30) 8 9 - 33 pts
40th: Eli Liefting (NZ) 14 19 18 (22) - 51 pts
Full results here.