In News, NZL Sailing Team, Olympics

RNZYS Member Susannah Pyatt and sailing partner Brianna Reynolds-Smith knew they were racing well today but it still came as a surprise to learn they had qualified the women’s 470 for New Zealand for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

That’s because the pair don’t tend to look at results so had little idea how close they were to earning one of the six spots available at these world championships to nations who hadn’t already qualified the class for the Games.

In the end, Pyatt and Reynolds-Smith jumped up nine places today to finish 15th overall in the women’s fleet. They missed out on a place in tomorrow’s top 10, double points medal race – and the gold will likely be decided by the battle between Great Britain and Japan – but that mattered little to a pair who only started sailing together last October.

“We’re really stoked and a little surprised [to qualify the boat] because neither of us follow the results,” Pyatt said. “I didn’t even know what boats had already qualified so we had no idea until we finished the last race and Brownie (coach Andrew Brown) told us he thought we had done it, so it was a really nice surprise.”

Pyatt and Reynolds-Smith improved each day as the regatta unfolded, going into the final day of fleet racing in 24th in the 39-boat fleet. They clearly enjoyed the 15-knot winds and big seas on the Olympic course to finish eighth, 13th and fifth in today’s three races. 

“It shows we can do what we believed we could do,” Pyatt said. “Now we have some facts to back it up. 

“We were just fighting the whole regatta. We made a decision to give it everything for every race and not think about the outcome. We just kept fighting to the end and we are really stoked with the improvements in every race.”

It means New Zealand has now qualified for eight of the 10 classes – men’s and women’s 470, Laser, Laser Radial, Finn, 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 – and it will be up to the New Zealand selectors to decide which classes and sailors to send to the Olympics.

New Zealand’s eight is the highest number of any nation behind Great Britain, who have qualified all 10 classes, and Japan who gain automatic entry to each class.

By Michael Brown – Yachting New Zealand

Photo: Junichi Hirai / Bulkhead Photography.

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