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Men's 470 crew on the hunt for more medals at world champs

Men's 470 crew on the hunt for more medals at world champs

Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox are looking to turn silver into gold when they line up for this week’s 470 world championships in Greece.

The pair were second at last year’s world championships in Argentina, their best result as a combination at a world event, and are targeting a top finish at their pinnacle event for 2017.

It is their first major regatta since last year’s Rio Olympics, where they finished 10th, and they’re keen to discover how they stack up against the rest of the fleet.

“We know what it feels like to race a good regatta,” Snow-Hansen said. “We need to put it all together at the right time. We did some good work in New Zealand so we have given ourselves an opportunity.”

At 26 and 27 respectively, Snow-Hansen and Willcox are experienced campaigners in the double-handed dinghy but there are many in the fleet in their mid-30s and all three medallists in Rio are lining up again.

Snow-Hansen and Willcox are targeting greater consistency at regattas and committed to a heavy training block in Auckland over the past few weeks.

They did, though, have some time off after Rio.

“I think we both enjoyed having some time away and doing some things we hadn’t been doing – skiing, kite foiling,” Snow Hansen said. “I have been in the class a long time. It feels really nice to be back in the boat now, so that’s a good sign. We are pretty excited to get back out there and see how we line up against our competition.

“Rio definitely wasn’t the regatta we were looking for. Our performance wasn’t where we were hoping to get. We had some really encouraging regattas in the build-up with a second in the worlds but it didn’t quite gel at the Olympics.

“We looked at that question [of whether we would campaign for the Tokyo Olympics] and both felt we had a lot of good things falling into place near the end of the campaign and it would be really good to try to build on that.”

Racing at the world championships starts on Monday and runs through to July 15.

New Zealand won’t be represented in the women’s 470 fleet, with former world champions and two-time Olympic medallists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie absent. Aleh is taking a year out from the 470 as she explores professional opportunities and Powrie has retired from Olympic sailing.

Snow-Hansen and Willcox are happy to fly the New Zealand flag in Greece and are optimistic about their chances. And they would love to add another medal to their collection.

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