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A year ago sailors Josh Junior and Andy Maloney were celebrating their win as part of Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup campaign.

Now the team mates have turned competitors, sailing a very different kind of boat, the Finn or heavyweight dinghy, regarded as the most physical and tactical singlehander sailboat in the world.

“It’s good to be home for a bit, it’s a really good chance to relax and review where I’m at,” says Junior, who’s jetted back to New Zealand for just two weeks following his win at the Kiel Week regatta in Germany, where Maloney placed fourth.

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Above: Josh Junior competing at Kiel Week

Since the start of the year the pair have been doing everything together, training, receiving coaching and even living together during competition, as they push each other to improve.

“It’s a pretty cool relationship we’ve got going on and we’re really able to help each other out,” says Maloney.

“It’s great to have someone whose strength is what you’re trying to work on and they can really talk you through what they’re doing to sail well and go fast, so we’re learning lots.”

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Above: Andy Maloney sailing the Laser in at an Olympic test event in Rio de Janeiro

Although the approach is paying dividends, with both sailors posting consistent results at the top of the pack, there’s one problem, only one of the pair can be selected to represent New Zealand at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“When we’re racing we’re fierce competitors,” says Junior.

“But what we’re focussing on is dominating the Finn so then whoever gets selected for the Olympics will have a really good shot at winning the gold medal.”

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Above: Josh Junior competing at Rio 2016 where he placed 7th

With the Olympic Games still over two years away next on the agenda for the pair is the big one for 2018, the Sailing World Championships in Aarhaus in July and August.

“It’s going to be challenging but we’re really looking forward to it. The dream is to finish one-two in the world so we’ll see how we go,” said Junior.

Amazingly Maloney has only recently transitioned to the Finn from the Laser class. The change coming after he put on weight for the America’s Cup campaign.

“At the beginning of this year I’d never raced the Finn in an international regatta so my expectations for World Champs were to make top 10 but I’ve improved quicker than expected thanks to the help of Josh, so my sights have been set a lot higher and I’ll be aiming for podium that’s for sure.”

The relationship isn’t just pushing the pair to improve but also providing depth to New Zealand’s increasingly impressive sailing stocks.

The friendly rivalry making for an interesting race for selection for the Olympic Games, as well as at Tokyo 2020.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games Josh Junior
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