Covid aftermath forces New Zealand sailor George Gautrey out of world champion

George Gautrey was enjoying strong laser world championships in Mexico before his health issues hit home.

John Pounder / Stuff

George Gautrey was enjoying strong laser world championships in Mexico before his health issues hit home.

Frustration was the order of the day for New Zealand’s top two lasers at the world championships in Mexico for very different reasons.

George Gautrey entered day two fourth in the ILCA 7 class but struggled physically as he battles the aftermath of Covid-19.

He sailed impressively to stay in the top 15, but the physical toll, compounded by moderate 15-20 knot winds that regularly buffet Banderas Bay in Mexico in 30-degree heat, left Gautrey contemplating his future. in the event.

“In both races I was well within a shot of getting a top-five result, but I just had no juice in the tank,” he said. “Unfortunately, I have decided to withdraw from the event. It was not a decision I took lightly but, given the circumstances, it is the only logical decision.

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“It’s been super frustrating considering the past three years, and I was finally starting to feel like I was getting back in some shape, but there’s a lot of yachting to come in the next three years. The stubborn Wellingtonian in me wants to keep going. , but I have to take care of my long-term health.”

Reigning world champion Tom Saunders is 17th overall after scores of 19th and 12th today and is hoping for a better final day of qualifying tomorrow.

The standings are incredibly tight – only three points separate the top six sailors – and most already have a reasonably high score as a drop for their worst finish, meaning anyone in the top 30 is well within reach.

“I don’t quite understand the right strategy, so we just need to tweak that a bit for the next few days,” Saunders said. “I find myself on the back foot at the first mark and it’s really hard to catch up. I did well to regain a lot of places, but I burn a lot of matches to get there, and I don’t want to not keep doing this.

Tom Saunders had a frustrating defense of his laser world title

Energy Sail/Global Sail

Tom Saunders had a frustrating defense of his laser world title

“I’m going fast, so it’s always nice, and there’s still a long way to go. It would be nice to have stress-free races tomorrow, more mentally than physically. Those little things can keep getting worse if you have to fight your way.”

All of the main contenders are grouped in the top 20 except for Olympic champion Matt Wearn who pulled out on opening day while battling illness. Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Bernaz holds a slim three-point lead over five sailors all locked on the same scoreline, including two-time Olympic silver medalist Tonci Stipanovic.

Two other Kiwis are part of the fleet of 126 sailors, with Luke Cashmore 82nd and Luke Deegan 93rd.

Results and ranking after the 2nd day of the ILCA 7 World Championships in Mexico (126 boats):

1st: Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) (19) 3 2 3 – 8 points

2nd: Daniel Whiteley (GBR) 8 (27) 1 2 – 11 pts

3rd: Elliot Hanson (GBR) 6 (26) 4 1 – 11 pts

15th: George Gautrey (NZL) 3 6 (23) 15 – 24 pts

17th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 4 10 (19) 12 – 26 pts

82nd: Luke Cashmore (NZL) 37 34 34 (39) – 105 pts

93rd: Luke Deegan (NZL) 42 (52) 40 38 – 120 pts