SOL23: Sailing resumes with victories for New Caledonia and Australia

Conditions allowed men’s sailing and women’s windsurfing to resume on Wednesday. Photos: Brian Hagi, Pacific Games News Service

Sailing competitions resumed on Wednesday after a brief hiatus due to unfavourable weather on Tuesday at DC Park.

Events started with the women’s team sailboard competition, which saw New Caledonia edge out Tahiti and Australia to finish with a four-point lead over the latter (3 points).

New Caledonia sailors, Solenn Gourand ep. Calvet and Sarah Hebert dominated the race from start to finish, giving their team a commanding three-point lead at the end of Wednesday.

Australia’s Amelia Wilson and Charlotte Wormald came home in second with 7 points, followed by Tahiti’s Arnault ep. Pujol in third with 20 points.

New Caledonia Sailing head coach, Aurelien Le Metayer said of the win: “I am excited and super proud of my team for securing today’s win and placing us at the top of the score chart during these preliminary stages. Our team’s goal is to reach the medal race despite the very tough competition from all competing nations and the unfavourable weather, which is likely to continue during the course of this week.”

The team one person dinghy men’s sailing competition followed shortly after which saw a total of six teams competing. They include score chart toppers Australia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti and hosts Solomon Islands.

Sailing powerhouse Australia dominated the event through its pairing of Isaac Schotte and Thomas Farley, with the lads from down under leading taking a seven-point commanding lead at the end of the day’s competition.

“Our team raced well today even though the race was a bit tough competing against strong teams such as New Caledonia, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, and Solomon Islands. We are happy we have made it to the top today and are now looking forward to resting up and preparing for our next events this week,” Schotte and Farley said.

New Caledonia sit in second with 8 points, followed by Samoa on 11 points, Fiji on 14 points, Tahiti on 15 points and Solomon Islands on 23 points.

Known for its sailing prowess, New Caledonia entered the waters as favourites, alongside Samoa and Fiji.

New Caledonia coach Aurelien Le Metayer revealed: “We boast a proficient windsurfing team currently engaged in the ILCA 7 race today. Our team holds several titles, making our participation significant. Our primary focus is optimising performance, particularly in the unique conditions here in Solomon Islands, where the warm weather and gradual morning winds require our patience and strategic analysis. It’s essentially a strategic game where we meticulously assess wind conditions, directions, and trends. Adjusting key variables like sail size is crucial as we strive to be as adaptable as possible, aiming to achieve improved results in our upcoming races.”

Giving his take on the competition thus far, Aurelien added: “The essence of the competition lies in speed, with the ultimate goal of securing victory. The current weather conditions, ranging from 8 to 12 knots and covering almost 20 kilometres are favourable for sailing. This provides an excellent opportunity for numerous races, benefiting those among us who have previously clinched championships.”

As the competition progresses, all eyes will be on the leaderboard, tracking the progress and demise of all of the competition’s participating nations.

Sailing continues on Thursday at DC Park. Entry is free.

By Tali Dever, Ambrose Toremana and Charles Watehau, Pacific Games News Service