Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga sailors on top of world

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Peter Burling, right, and Blair Tuke have a comfortable lead at the 49erFX World Championships in Clearwater, Florida.
Peter Burling, right, and Blair Tuke have a comfortable lead at the 49erFX World Championships in Clearwater, Florida.

Tauranga sailors Peter Burling and Molly Meech are on top of the world with two days left at the 2016 49er and 49erFX World Championships in Clearwater, Florida.

Defending champs Burling and Blair Tuke sailed well again today to now lead by 28 points, while Alex Maloney and Meech have climbed into the overall lead in the women's fleet.

Conditions today were described as light and tricky with the breeze decreasing as the day progressed.

Burling and Tuke have stepped out their overall lead in the 2016 49er World Championships edging closer to securing what would be their fourth consecutive world crown in the hotly contested Olympic men's skiff class.

Molly Meech, right, and Alex Maloney lead the 49er FX World Championships in Clearwater, Florida.
Molly Meech, right, and Alex Maloney lead the 49er FX World Championships in Clearwater, Florida.

While their clean-streak of race wins came to an end, the New Zealanders overall performance on day four of the regatta was still among the best of the fleet with a 3-1-2-11 score-card. They discard the 11th as their worst result.

Reigning Olympic champions Nathan Outteridge and Ian Jensen, from Australia, are lying 2nd overall with Diego Botin and Iago Lopez Marra of Spain five points back from the Aussies.

Tomorrow will see the fleet split into gold and silver with the top 25 boats progressing into gold fleet racing from here.

Tauranga sailor Trent Rippey and Isaac McHardie lie 47th.

In the 49er FX, Maloney and Meech have continued their strong form into day four of the regatta and have taken the overall lead in the battle for women's 49erFX 2016 world title as a result.

Starting the day with a 3rd place the NZL Sailing Team pair went on to take race seven of the series in convincing style crossing the line well clear of the fleet. In their next race they placed 10th, but discard that as their worst and will go into gold fleet racing tomorrow having not finished outside the top ten in any of their races so far.

"We got out there this morning and were quite surprised at how nice a wind there was and the first two races went really well for us, and then the last one we had a bit of a bad start and managed to sail through the fleet for a top ten finish so overall I think we're really happy with today," Meech said.

"Our attitude is to just take each day as it comes, and race by race, and just try and stay consistent."

Their leading margin is narrow with Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz of Germany just three points behind them, and Brazil's Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze only one point further adrift.

Maloney and Meech have admitted to working hard towards improving their performance in light wind conditions and today that paid dividends.

"Molly and I have had a pretty big focus on our light air speed in the last few years and we're really happy with how far we've come with our light air settings," Maloney said.

Meanwhile after 12 races in the 2016 Nacra 17 World Championships running concurrently, New Zealand teams are lying 15th and 18th in the 43 boat fleet.

Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson (Aon Fast Track Squad) are lying 15th overall, while Gemma Jones and Tauranga's Jason Saunders (NZL Sailing Team) are not far behind in 18th.

Racing resumes tomorrow in Clearwater for the penultimate day of the regatta. Medal races are planned for Sunday 14th February.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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