A man windsurfing

Australia and New Caledonia claim women’s sailing and men’s windsurfing golds

cropped 0V8A0724 | February 24, 2024
Medallists in the women’s one person dinghy individual event. Photos: Brian Hagi, Pacific Games News Service

Men’s windsurfing and women’s dinghy sailing wrapped up at DC Park on Saturday with New Caledonia claiming three gold medals in the former, and Australia two in the latter.

New Caledonia’s Samuel Launay and Laurent Cali each won gold in their individual events and also in the team event.

Launay managed to see off competition from Australia and Fiji to win gold in the men’s lightweight sailboard. Lachlan Vize of Australia claimed silver while Fiji’s Andrew Rhodes settled for bronze.

Cali claimed gold in the men’s heavyweight sailboard. Earning the silver medal was Tahitian Teiva Veronique, while Scott O’Connor of Fiji won a bronze to complete a double bronze for Fiji in the men’s sailboard events.

New Caledonia however made it triple gold in sailing by being overall winners in the men’s team event. Gilles Le Chevalier De Preville and Veronique of Tahiti won silver while Australians Vize and Jarrod Jones settled for bronze.

In the women’s one person dinghy individual event it was a double gold victory for Australia. Evie Saunders won gold, overcoming strong competition from Fiji’s Sophia Morgan who won silver, while Vaimooia Ripley of Samoa squeezed into the bronze position by winning the final race today.

The Australian pair of Saunders and Ellen Sampson then claimed gold in the women’s one person dinghy team event.  Morgan and Nelle Leenders made it two silver medals for Fiji, while Samoa claimed double bronze with Ripley and teammate Elizabeth Rasch coming in third place.

Light wind conditions meant plans to hold one more group race before the medal races would begin was disrupted, so the top five had to go straight to a medal race.

Double gold medalist Cali reflected on the tricky conditions faced on the course.

“I am really happy for the victory today. I won another race in a really nice place for wind surfing. So, I’m very happy to win here in Solomon Islands,” he told the Pacific Games News Service.

“The wind conditions here were tricky because the current was opposite on two different sides of the place that we race. On the left side it was going to the top and the right side it was going down. It was really tactical, so it was a really nice fight on the water.”

Evie Saunders who won double gold said: “I was pretty nervous going out there, but just had to calm myself down, be confident in the skills that I had and that’s what helped me win.”

Meanwhile Ripley had to work hard to finish first in the final medal race, earning a deserved bronze podium spot. She said: “I want to give thanks to our Lord and Saviour first and foremost for protecting us and guiding us throughout this whole week.

“Today was the final race with the top five boats competing. We had two Fijians, two Australians and myself from Samoa, so it was a really good competition. We also had crazy winds like you see today and no wind at all. I really appreciate the Solomon Islands for having us and especially here in Guadalcanal Province.”

Sailing will take a break on Sunday and resume for the second series of races on Monday 27 November from 10am at DC Park.

Entry is free.

By Willie Fafale, Pacific Games News Service

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