Slow start for Touli on the Laser Radial

The sun is back out over Mulifanua after downpours rained over Saturday’s medal ceremony, in time for day one of the men’s Pacific Games sailing competitions.

Monday brings day one of the men’s single Laser Radial races, and the double handed Hobie Catamaran races.

Setting sail just after 10am was Samoa’s Nicky Touli, 23-year-old chef in Fox Glacier from Vaitele. 

But after two months of training in light winds, the heavy gusts threw him off course, he said.

“It was tough today. I never thought the wind could be that much,” he said.

“It wasn’t my day today – one of my tail extensions, the screw came off, I was leading before that.”

Touli placed fifth and sixth in his first and third races and was disqualified from the second for only turning once instead of twice, landing him a whopping nine points for the race and putting him in sixth place overall.

Coach Vincent Peter said the winds were Touli’s biggest downfall.

“It is challenging, especially the standard is much higher. New Caledonia is just coming back from the Japan World Series and he is way too fast,” he said.

“Nicky’s second and third starts were good but it’s a matter of practicing, and knowing what to do, and hopefully he will be able to come back tomorrow.”

“It was an unfortunate day one for Nicky but hopefully he can learn from it and come back better prepared tomorrow.”

The first day of races are always “crazy,” Peter said, with nerves and new competition around. But racing is about putting each day behind you and moving on to the next, he said.

Touli is optimistic. He was leading in the first race until technical issues sent him to the back of the pack, so he is confident he can change the leader-board by the end of the week.

“Tomorrow is another day,” he said.

“I will do my best tomorrow, I know today was the first day, so I just wanted to experience what was there, how the fleet was. Now I know what to do, what to improve on.”

New Caledonia’s Etienne Le Pen is leading and came first in all three races of the day, followed by Will Sargent from Australia and Amanu Jules Simpson from Fiji who kept their second and third places all morning.

Tahiti’s Pierre Danielot and Nicolas Gayet are coming in fourth and fifth, and Jed Kuper from the Solomon Islands is seventh.

Also racing this morning is Raymond Numa from Papua New Guinea, who is competing in the simultaneous Oceania Championship race, where he is coming fifth.

There are nine races to go.

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