Time on home waters, wedged between trips across the ditch, could be the perfect way for New Zealand’s leading ILCA 7 sailors to kickstart their 2023 – even if weather conditions were far from ideal.
A Kiwi contingent led by Tom Saunders and George Gautrey on Monday touched down in Adelaide for a 10-day training camp at the venue of next year’s world championships, a fortnight after a slightly subdued start to their year in Australia.
Saunders and Gautrey last month claimed top 10 finishes in both the Australian National ILCA Championships and the Sail Melbourne regatta, but failed to get on the podium in either.
“Tom and I came into the events after a bit of time out of the boat and it showed against some of the best yachties in the world,” Gautrey said.
“It’s still been a good way to kick off the new year, with a great NZ squad and battling it out against the Aussies and Brits.”
Gautrey claimed fifth in the Aussie nationals at Georges River Sailing Club and fourth overall in Melbourne.
Saunders, the 2021 world champion, finished seventh and eighth respectively.
The pair are joined in Adelaide by Luke Deegan and Luke Cashmore, the former fresh off his win at the New Zealand ILCA nationals at Murrays Bay.
“It’s been good to be back home in between Aussie trips, to get on the water and fix a few things both Tom and I weren’t happy with,” Gautrey said.
“We’ve managed to assemble a pretty good squad …. Tom and I are the old boys, and we also have some of the younger guns like the Lukes and Caleb (Armit).”
The ILCA squad have been putting in the hours in storm-battered Auckland over recent weeks, under the watchful eye of coach Mark Howard.
Gautrey had a few heart-stopping moments last Friday, capsizing his boat while training off Takapuna Beach.
The 25-year-old Wellingtonian shared some of the dramatic footage to social media.
“Conditions were pretty hairy last Friday but fortunately we had Mark out on the water to keep us safe and make sure we didn’t get in trouble,” Gautrey said.
“It’s always good to be out there pushing the limits and seeing where those limits are. Evidently, I found them a couple of times!”
The squad return to New Zealand late next week when their focus will shift to the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta in Torbay from 24-26 February.