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Olympic Test Event: Kiwis Battle Light Breeze, Nerves On Curtailed First Day

New Zealand's sailors battled changeable conditions and pre-regatta jitters on a curtailed first day of the Olympic test event in Marseille.

Only five of the scheduled races could be completed overnight and of the Kiwis in action, only George Gautrey managed a top-10 finish - placing ninth in the second of his two races in the ILCA 7 (Laser) fleet.

Gautrey, the silver medallist from the Princess Sofia Regatta in April, sits ninth overall after a 15th in his first race. He is 17 points behind Britain's Michael Beckett, who leads a quality fleet.

"I don't think I've been that nervous on a day's racing in a long time, it was quite an interesting situation to be in," Gautrey said.

"It was a very different style of racing to what we're used to and a lot of nerves running around, so it was good to get the first day out of the way."

A big wind range provided an extra challenge on the Marseille Marina course, Gautrey said.

"It was pretty wild sailing as we had anywhere from 0kn to 14kn. I'm happy to come out of the day with two not too bad results and now it's all about getting that average score down."

In the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) fleet, Olivia Christie's promising starts in both races were undone by poor decision-making.

"It was a pretty tough day," Christie said. "The breeze was super variable, anything from under 5kn to almost 15kn and shifty.

"In the first race, I was about mid-fleet but then had a yellow flag [penalty] and made some bad decisions. In the second, I was top-10 around the top mark but went the wrong way on the second beat."

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Lukas Walton-Keim finished 16th in the only start in the men's kitefoil.

No racing was possible in the women's event featuring the country's top female kitefoiler Justina Kitchen.

Walton-Keim has only recently returned to competition after seven months sidelined with a knee injury and while disappointed with the result, he's encouraged by some aspects of his race.

"It was pretty light and then the breeze started getting a bit funky and they [race officials] had real trouble trying to get us off the line," Walton-Keim said.

"I'm not happy with the result today, but a lot of the stats actually look quite good. I just need to sort out my start and my preparation before the start so I can pull the trigger and really go for it."

Similar conditions are expected for day two, with two races scheduled for both ILCA fleets and five races for the two kitefoil competitions.

Twelve New Zealand sailors are competing in nine of the 10 Olympic classes in Marseille, an event that serves as a dress rehearsal for next year's Olympic Games at the same venue.

Results and standings from day 1 of the Olympic test event in Marseille:

ILCA 6 (38 boats)
1st: Marit Bouwmeester (Ned) 2 2 - 4 points
2nd: Chiara Benini Floriani (Ita) 1 9 - 10 pts
3rd: Maud Jayet (Sui) 6 4 - 10 pts
36th: Olivia Christie (NZ) 36 31 - 67 pts

ILCA 7 (42 boats)
1st: Michael Beckett (GBR) 2 5 - 7 pts
2nd: Finn Lynch (Ire) 3 4 -7 pts
3rd: Matt Wearn (Aus) 1 7 - 8 pts
9th: George Gautrey (NZ) 15 9 - 24 pts

Men's kitefoil (20 boards)
1st: Axel Mazella (Fra) 1 - 1 pt
2nd: Connor Bainbridge (GBR) 2 - 2 pts
3rd: Alexander Ehlen (Mon) 3 - 3 pts
16th: Lukas Walton-Keim (NZ) 17 - 17 pts

© Scoop Media

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