Tokyo Olympics: Kiwi sailor Andy Maloney claims world title to edge towards Games qualification

Kiwi sailor Andy Maloney has taken another step towards securing Tokyo Olympics selection, with his first world title triumph off Portugal.

Maloney held on to his slim lead on the final day of racing at Porto to claim the Finn Gold Cup, becoming the second Kiwi in 18 months to win the prestigious trophy.

The win edges him ahead of rival and close friend Josh Junior - who won last year's event - in their battle to clinch the lone Finn class spot for New Zealand at the upcoming Games in Japan.

"It feels awesome for the Finn Gold Cup to be staying in New Zealand, after Josh won it last time," Maloney says. 

"It's also my first Olympic class world championship, so that's pretty special as well, and to have both Josh and I on the podium here is also really cool."

"Going down the final run [of the last race], there was a lot of difference between me and the guys who could overtake me on the results. 

"I felt pretty good at that stage, but nothing is done in yachting, so I just tried to get to the finish as best I could and just let it all out when I crossed the line."

Maloney finished seven points ahead of Spain's Joan Cardona, with Junior a further three points back in third.

Over the past 18 months, America’s Cup commitments and COVID-19 have limited the Kiwis’ time in a Finn class, which Junior says made their achievements that much sweeter.

"We knew it was going to be challenging, but we had a lot of good notes and believed in what we do," Junior says.

"We knew that if we sailed well, we could do it and I think we did that, so we're really happy with the outcome.

"It's pretty special to be in the top three at the world championships, but I'm just over the moon for Andy. To keep the Gold Cup in New Zealand is something special. 

"I'm super-stoked for him."

Whoever misses out on Olympics selection will travel to Japan as the other's coach.