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Pre-Olympics: Kiwi sailors foiled by wind gods at Olympic test event

by Michael Brown/Yachting NZ 22 Aug 15:28 BST 23 August 2019
Blair Tuke and Peter Burling (NZL) - 49er - Olympic Sailing Test Event - Enoshima - August 21, 2019 © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

It is a measure of Sam Meech's superb consistency that his fifth placing at the Olympic test event today is his worst result of the past two years.

But the Olympic bronze medallist didn't get the opportunity to improve his position on the final day of the event due to a lack of wind in Enoshima. The top 10 Laser sailors hit the water late in the day but what little breeze there was died off by the time they arrived at the race course.

Andy Maloney didn't even venture onto the water, with the Finn medal race called off before the Lasers went out, meaning Maloney had to settle for fourth overall.

New Zealand won one medal at the Olympic test event, the superb gold collected by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke yesterday in the 49er, and added two fourths and a fifth. Encouragingly, all four were in contention for medals right up to their last race - Alex Maloney and Molly Meech finished fourth in the 49erFX.

"I was in a good spot to go out there and give it my best shot in the race and have an opportunity to snag a medal but I don't feel I sailed well enough this week to even be on the podium," Andy Maloney said. "To have a shot at it today would have been great but there are a lot of areas I need to improve in.

"To have an off-week and to still finish fourth is a good thing. We will be looking to do a lot better next year at the venue. We will learn a lot from this event. Those onshore conditions, I had a few pretty tough races. I think we were just getting a handle on it towards the end of the event so hopefully I can build on that over the next year and put it into practice at the Olympics."

Maloney will take a short break as he focuses on America's Cup sailing but will jump back in the Finn in time for December's Finn Gold Cup (world championships) in Melbourne. He's enjoyed a terrific year to date, winning two regattas and finishing second in another, and knows either he or Josh Junior will be a threat at next year's Olympics.

Meech will also be a contender, and has won three silver medals this year, but he's not used to not standing on the podium.

The Laser medal race had loomed as one of the most fascinating of the day, with five sailors all within seven points of each other, so the finish was as limp as the flags flying from the yacht club.

"It's the worst part of the sport," said Meech, who wore the leaders yellow bib for a couple of days. "You could tell who the people were who wanted to go on the water and who didn't because guys like myself were changed and ready to go waiting for that [postponement] flag to come down.

"I feel like I sailed really well this week. I just did a few too many penalty turns and lost a few critical places. I was still right in there with a good chance to win a medal but just didn't have it.

"I do take comfort from that. It's my worst result in a couple of years. It's just a shame it's at this event. It's always my goal to be in with a shot to be on the podium going into the last day and today was a case of who beats who. If I could be in this position next year and get a [medal] race in I would be pretty happy."

Meech will remain in Enoshima and compete along with a contingent of fellow Kiwis in next week's World Cup Series regatta, which rounds out the northern hemisphere season for most.

Final New Zealand results and standings after the Olympic test event in Enoshima today (no racing today):

49er (21 boats)

1st: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) 3 1 1 (13) 9 4 3 2 2 4 1 7 16 - 53 points 2nd: Dylan Fletcher / Stuart Bithell (GBR) 1 10 4 10 10 (16) 5 4 7 3 3 1 6 - 64 pts 3rd: Pawel Kolodzinski / Lukasz Przybytek (POL) 2 4 7 2 3 5 11 6 1 (12) 4 5 18 - 68 pts

49erFX (23 boats)

1st: Martine Grael / Kahena Kunze (BRA) 5 2 4 5 1 (8) 2 2 8 8 7 7 6 - 57 pts 2nd: Naess / Ronningen (NOR) 3 8 9 1 5 (11) 1 5 11 3 6 8 2 - 62 pts 3rd: Saskia Tidey / Charlotte Dobson (GBR) 1 4 1 2 2 3 5 12 1 (15) 13 6 12 - 62 pts

4th: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) (14) 7 2 3 6 1 4 8 3 5 4 14 10 - 67 pts

Laser (35 boats)

1st: Jesper Stalheim (SWE) 5 15 2 2 3 2 (36 RET) 3 16 12 - 60 pts 2nd: Tom Burton (AUS) 4 8 6 4 7 13 (27) 15 4 2 - 63 pts 3rd: Herman Tomasgaard (NOR) 9 1 3 11 16 5 (29) 6 6 8 - 65 pts

5th: Sam Meech (NZL) 1 2 13 1 12 7 9 13 9 (27) - 67 pts

Finn (22 boats)

1st: Zsombor Berecz (HUN) 3 1 3 2 8 1 2 2 2 (13) - 24 pts 2nd: Nicholas Heiner (NED) 2 2 7 7 6 (9) 6 5 (11) 3 - 47 pts 3rd: Giles Scott (GBR) 1 6 2 10 4 6 1 14 4 (17) - 48 pts

4th: Andy Maloney (NZL) 7 8 9 1 1 12 8 8 3 (16) - 57 pts

Nacra 17 (21 boats)

1st: Ruggero Tita / Caterina Banti (ITA) 1 3 1 3 2 7 7 9 2 6 5 (11) 8 - 54 pts 2nd: John Gimson / Anna Burnet (GBR) 6 5 5 7 7 2 2 1 (8) 8 1 4 18 - 66 pts 3rd: Ben Saxton / Nikki Boniface (GBR) 3 2 4 4 10 6 (20) 11 3 4 8 1 12 - 68 pts

17th: Micah Wilkinson / Erica Dawson (NZL) 20 15 14 8 (22 UFD) 14 14 14 17 19 13 16 - 164 pts

Men's 470 (22 boats)

1st: Mathew Belcher / Will Ryan (AUS) 2 3 3 (8) 3 1 8 1 1 3 - 25 pts 2nd: Anton Dahlberg / Fredrik Bergsrom (SWE) 5 2 5 4 4 3 1 (7) 2 1 - 27 pts 3rd: Jordi Xammar / Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) 1 1 4 (20) 1 10 2 6 11 2 - 38 pts

15th: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) (20) 14 16 1 14 20 7 5 15 17 - 109 pts

Full results click here

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