Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox weren't originally going to compete this week at the Hempel World Cup Series regatta in Enoshima but the pair will be glad they stuck around after taking an early lead in the standings today.
The pair endured a frustrating campaign at last week's Olympic test event, finishing 15th in the men's 470 as they struggled for speed, but have made some changes to the boat this week and it worked well on the opening race of the 2019/20 World Cup Series season. They failed to get a second race in because of the lengthy delay earlier in the day due to a lack of breeze.
Some of the other New Zealanders competing this week didn't enjoy quite so much success as they struggled in the light conditions, but both Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (eighth 49erFX) and Susannah Pyatt and Brianna Reynolds-Smith (eighth women's 470) made solid starts and Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie won the opening 49er race.
Snow-Hansen and Willcox were due to fly home after last week's Olympic test event but decided to stick around in Enoshima to compete at the World Cup Series. They had gone into the test event as one of the form combinations of the year, having won the World Cup Series regatta in Genoa and backing it up with third at the 470 European championships, and looked like they had rediscovered their pace today.
"We felt like we started well and then managed the fleet how we wanted to, and the boat was feeling good," Willcox said. "We have learned a lot at the Olympic venue. We feel like we are learning all the time so it's awesome to be doing another regatta here against the best boats and we're excited for the week ahead."
It's an important one for Pyatt and Reynolds-Smith, who recently qualified the boat for New Zealand for next year's Olympics with their 15th at the 470 world championships. They were leading at the top mark for the first time in their only race today and will be buoyed by another top-10 finish.
Maloney and Meech will look to work their way up the standings over the next couple of days in the 49erFX. The pair were 12th and 10th in today's races and Maloney explained they raced under challenging conditions given they shared the course with the 49ers - the delay to the racing meant they were sent out at the same time when usually they race one at a time.
"It was an interesting experience because we shared the race course with 40 49ers as well as a big FX fleet so we were overlapping a lot," Maloney said. "Your tactics changed quite a lot having so many boats on one race course. It was all about having a really good lane and going in the right direction.
"There were moments when it was challenging and we felt we were being affected by the other fleet but, overall, we made some pretty good decisions and really got back into the racing after some challenging first beats.
"There's a lot to play for still with a lot more races scheduled so we will look forward to getting out there tomorrow and giving it our all in some big conditions forecasted."
Winds in excess of 20 knots are predicted tomorrow, which could see some classes held ashore.
Sam Meech will be hoping to race to get himself into contention in the Laser after what he described as a "disaster" of a first day. The world No 2 was 23rd and 31st in the two races in the 51-boat fleet to sit 27th overall but the picture will change considerably over the course of the week in what is the most competitive fleet at this regatta, especially after the discard comes into play.
"I had good starts in both races but just wasn't in the right place for the pressure and ended up battling around in the middle of the fleet," Meech said. "It's our first day so hopefully I have some good races to come."
Results and standings after day 1 of the Hempel World Cup Series regatta in Enoshima, Japan, today:
Men's 470 (32 boats)
1st: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) 1 - 1 point
2nd: Kazuo Doi / Naoya Kimura (JPN) 2 - 2 pts
3rd: Giacomo Ferrari / Guilio Calabro (ITA) 3 - 3 pts
Women's 470 (21 boats)
1st: Yuki Hayashi / Chika Nishidai (JPN) 1 - 1 pt
2nd: Silvia Depares / Patricia Cantero (ESP) 2 - 2 pts
3rd: Luise Wanser / Helena Wanser (GER) 3 - 3 pts
8th: Susannah Pyatt / Brianna Reynolds-Smith (NZL) 8 - 8 pts
49er (37 boats)
1st: Dominik Buksak / Szymon Wierzbicki (POL) 2 4 (14) 6 pts
2nd: Tim Fischer / Fabian Graf (GER) 3 (6) 3 - 6 pts
3rd: Federico Tellechea / Arturo Tellechea (ESP) 7 (30) 1 - 8 pts
17th: Isaac McHardie / William McKenzie (NZL) 1 24 (37) - 25 pts
23rd: Logan Dunning Beck / Oscar Gunn (NZL) (32) 25 10 - 35 pts
49erFX (36 boats)
1st: Martine Grael / Kahena Kunze (BRA) 1 1 - 2 pts
2nd: Kimberly Lim / Cecilia Low (SGP) 2 5 - 7 pts
3rd: Carla Carrasco / Marta Carrasco (ESP) 3 4 - 7 pts
8th: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) 12 10 - 22 pts
Nacra 17 (32 boats)
1st: Ben Saxton / Nicola Boniface (GBR) 1 4 - 5 pts
2nd: Nathan Outteridege / Haylee Outteridge (AUS) 5 3 - 8 pts
3rd: Jason Waterhouse / Lisa Darmanin (AUS) 7 2 - 9 pts
15th: Gemma Jones / Josh Porebski - 21 11 - 32 pts
20th: Micah Wilkinson / Erica Dawson (NZL) 26 16 - 42 pts
28th: Liv Mackay / Jason Saunders (NZL) 28 20 - 48 pts
Laser (51 boats)
1st: Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) 5 3 - 8 pts
2nd: Pavlos Kontides (CYP) 2 9 - 11 pts
3rd: Nick Thompson (GBR) 12 2 - 14 pts
27th: Sam Meech (NZL) 23 31 - 54 pts
31st: Tom Saunders (NZL) 26 33 - 58 pts
33rd: George Gautrey (NZL) 45 15 - 60 pts
Laser Radial (49 boats)
1st: Manami Doi (JPN) 3 5 - 8 pts
2nd: Emma Plasschaert (BEL) 1 10 - 11 pts
3rd: Nur Latif (MAS) 9 2 - 11 pts
43rd: Olivia Christie (NZL) 28 45 - 73 pts
47th: Annabelle Rennie-Younger (NZL) 49 44 - 93 pts
49th: Courtney Reynolds-Smith (NZL) 47 48 - 95 pt
Women's RS:X (24 boards)
1st: Peina Chen (CHN) 1 (9) 2 - 3 pts
2nd: Wai Yan Ngai (HKG) 3 2 (13) - 5 pts
3rd: Yunxiu Lu (CHN) (6) 5 1 - 6 pts
23rd: Veerle ten Have (NZL) 22 22 (24) - 44 pts
- Pic: Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox won the opening race of the men's 470 at the World Cup Series regatta in Enoshima. Photo: Sailing Energy / World Sailing.