Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Sailing: Kiwi women sail away with gold

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Alexandra Maloney (left) and Tauranga's Molly Meech defended their 49erFX title at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. Photo Sailing Energy
Alexandra Maloney (left) and Tauranga's Molly Meech defended their 49erFX title at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. Photo Sailing Energy

It was a case of double delight in the Meech household on Sunday night.

Siblings Molly Meech, 22, and Sam Meech, 24, from the Tauranga Yacht Club won the only two medals claimed by the NZL Sailing team at the 2016 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, which is the second in the 2015-16 ISAF Sailing World Cup series.

We had a pretty up and down season in 2015 so it's nice to start this one off on top again, so hopefully we can continue.
Molly Meech

Molly teamed up with Aucklander Alex Maloney to win the gold medal and retain their 49erFX women's skiff class title, while Sam came roaring home to take the bronze medal in the men's single-handed Laser event.

Meech and Maloney were the only crew across the 10 Olympic fleets to have the gold medal assured with a day's racing to spare.

"We're pretty happy to win this week," Meech said. "Last year we came away with a win in Miami, so it's nice to do it again.

"We had a pretty up and down season in 2015 so it's nice to start this one off on top again, so hopefully we can continue. We've had a pretty good summer back home in New Zealand and then coming over here we've felt fresh.

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"We've been working on a few things and it's another step forward for us."

The 49erFX crews will now contest the 2016 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida from February 9-14, where they will be joined by the male 49er crews, including Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

Meanwhile, a podium finish looked out of Sam Meech's reach going into the final day on Sunday against nearly 100 of the world's finest Laser sailors. He trailed third-placed Rutger van Schaardenburg from the Netherlands by 12 points but finished third in the final race to equal the Dutch sailor on points. Meech was awarded the bronze medal after a count back.

His fellow Tauranga sailors Thomas Saunders (seventh) and Andy Maloney (ninth) plus Michael Bullot (10th) meant four New Zealand sailors in the top 10 - the only country with more than one sailor in the top 10.

Proud mum Debbie Meech said she was thrilled both Molly and Sam had medalled.

"For Sam it was really exciting as it has been a while since any of the Laser boys have been on the podium.

"The New Zealand boys will be so pleased there were four of them in the top 10.

"It is all about getting selected (for the Olympics) now and Sam has worked so hard. It is really nice to see it starting to pay off at the right time I guess.

"Molly was confident they could do it even though last year they did not have such a good year. They had a nice break at home and went in fresh and they obviously like Miami. They are going on to the worlds now, so it is a nice lead-in for them."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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