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NZL Sailing Team: Burling and Tuke take early lead at Olympic test event

by Michael Brown/Yachting NZ 17 Aug 14:09 BST 18 August 2019
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) - 49er - Day 1, Olympic Test Event - Enoshima, Japan - August 2019 © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had never raced at the Olympic venue before today but they looked right at home as they took an early lead on Day 1 of the Olympic test event in Enoshima today.

The four-time world and defending Olympic champions carded two wins and a third in their three races to establish themselves at the top of the 49er leaderboard after the first day.

Sam Meech also enjoyed a terrific day, finishing first and second in his two races to sit on top of the Laser fleet. Andy Maloney (fifth in the Finn) and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (fifth in the 49erFX) are also well in the mix.

The Olympic test event is essentially a dress rehearsal for the real thing in 12 months' time, being sailed with similar-sized fleets as what will be seen at the Games and at the same time of year. But it's also quite often a good indicator of what will happen at the Olympics, with 13 sets of medallists at the test event going on to stand on the podium in Rio in 2016. Like the Olympic Sailing Regatta, only one crew per event per nation is permitted.

Burling and Tuke won both the test event and Olympic titles in the last Olympic cycle and are targeting another good result in Enoshima this week.

"This is our first event in Enoshima so we are really trying to put our best foot forward," Burling said. "It's called the Olympic test event for a reason and we are testing things for next year."

Tuke added: "You always want to go out and do well on the first day and it was good conditions. We were pretty pumped to get three good ones on the board. It's quite a short event for us, with only 12 races before the medal race, so it's a good start."

It couldn't have gone much better for Meech, who has enjoyed success in Japan with gold (2017) and bronze (2018) at the last two World Cup Series regattas in the country. He was also fourth at the recent Laser world championships in Sakaiminato.

He holds a three-point advantage over Australia's Matt Wearn after the first day and revelled in the conditions served up after a typhoon danced through Enoshima yesterday.

"It was champagne sailing," he said. "We had 15 knots and huge waves, so it doesn't really get much better than that.

"It was a great start to the regatta. I had good speed upwind and tried to catch the biggest waves downwind. There's still a long way to go and we could have some pretty changeable conditions. That might be the best day we have."

One thing that's not likely to change, however, is the heat and humidity and the New Zealand sailors, like most teams, are taking steps to try to mitigate its effect. The temperature was in the mid-30s today with humidity licking 90 percent.

"It made it really difficult," Meech said. "The first beat you start to get warmer and warmer and by the second beat you are just hanging off the side. You just can't go as hard as you normally do and I was really dying at times.

"The cumulative fatigue will start to build up and it's going to be pretty hard by the end of the week but we are doing everything we can and trying to keep as cool as possible until we start racing."

Andy Maloney felt like he left a few points out on the race course, finishing seventh and eighth in his two races to sit in fifth overall, while Alex Maloney and Molly Meech rebounded well after a slow start to finish second in their final race to also sit fifth in the 49erFX.

New Zealand results and standings from the Olympic test event in Enoshima today: 49er (21 boats)

1st: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) (3) 1 1 - 2 points 2nd: Dylan Fletcher / Stuart Bithell (GBR) 1 (10) 4 - 5 pts 3rd: Will Phillips / Sam Phillips (AUS) 4 (5) 2 - 6 pts

49erFX

1st: Saskia Tidey / Charlotte Dobson (GBR) 1 (4) 1 - 2 pts 2nd: Martine Grael / Kahena Kunze (BRA) (5) 2 4 - 6 pts 3rd: Victoria Jurczok / Anika Lorenz (GER) - 2 (19) 5 - 7 pts

5th: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) (15) 7 2 - 9 pts

Laser (35 boats)

1st: Sam Meech (NZL) 1 2 - 3 pts 2nd: Matt Wearn (AUS) 2 4 - 6 pts 3rd: Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) 3 3 - 6 pts

Finn (22 boats)

1st: Zsombor Berecz (HUN) 3 1 - 4 pts 2nd: Nicholas Heiner (NED) 2 2 - 4 pts 3rd: Giles Scott (GBR) 1 6 - 7 pts

5th: Andy Maloney (NZL) 7 8 - 15 pts

Nacra 17 (21 boats)

1st: Ruggero Tita / Caterina Banti (ITA) 1 (3) 1 - 2 pts 2nd: Paul Kohlhoff / Alica Stuhlemmer (GER) - (7) 1 3 - 4 pts 3rd: Ben Saxton / Nicola Boniface (GBR) 3 2 (4) - 5 pts

16th: Micah Wilkinson / Erica Dawson (NZL) (20) 15 14 - 29 pts

Men's 470 (22 boats)

1st: Jordi Xammar / Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) 1 1 - 2 pts 2nd: Mathew Belcher / Will Ryan (AUS) 2 3 - 5 pts 3rd: Anton Dahlberg / Fredrik Bergsrom (SWE) 5 2 - 7 pts

18th: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) 20 14 - 34 pts

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