The dress rehearsal to their season went off without too many hitches but Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson know there’s plenty to do before opening night.
The Kiwi Nacra 17 pair claimed bronze at the Lanzarote International Regatta in the Canary Islands overnight, holding off four competitors in the medal race to finish third overall.
A disappointing 10th in the final fleet race, abandoned twice before getting away, threatened to see the duo miss out on a spot on the dais.
“We had a good start, and we were in a good position but we just banked on the left and the right came good, so we ended up quite deep,” Wilkinson explained.
“That was a real shame because we were pushing for the win.”
Wilkinson and Dawson started the regatta with back-to-back victories before a pitch-pole late on day 2 - “a bad time for a rig check”, according to Wilkinson - saw them drop to third on the leaderboard.
They had to beat four other boats and hold off a strong challenge from Sweden’s Ida Svensson and Macus Dackhammar in the medal race, to claim the bronze.
The French pair of Billy Besson and Noa Ancian won gold – 17 points ahead of the Kiwi crew - with silver going to Mateo Majdalani and Eugenia Bosco (Argentina).
Dawson was happy with their first competitive racing of 2023 but rued a few “silly mistakes”.
“It's been a good week for us. We felt like we left quite a few points out there with a few silly mistakes, but overall it's been an awesome training block here,” she said.
“It's great to line up again and get back into racing but it’s just the start of the season for us and this was really just a good test run ahead of the next big thing on our calendar – Palma.”
The Spanish resort city will host the Princesa Sofia Regatta, the year’s first major international event for several Olympic classes, in April.
For Wilkinson and Dawson, who have been sailing together since 2019, it is an opportunity to measure their progress against many of the teams who finished ahead of their 12th at the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
“Lanzarote has been a great training block but we’re pretty realistic that there were some of the big guns missing here,” Wilkinson said.
“We now have four weeks at home before Palma, where we’re going to have the Italians, British and all the other heavy hitters from last year and the last Olympics."
New Zealand’s two leading 49er teams also competed in Lanzarote with Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn claiming silver and Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie narrowly missing out on a top-10 finish.