Sailing: Burling and Meech in contention at championships

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Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are well clear to win the 2016 49er European championships.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are well clear to win the 2016 49er European championships.

The New Zealand sailing contingent had a strong penultimate day at the 2016 49er and 49erFX European Championships in Barcelona, Spain today with Peter Burling and Blair Tuke on track to take another victory, and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech sailing themselves back into podium contention.

Conditions in Barcelona were tricky and puffy, requiring full concentration from the sailors. Both the 49er and 49erFx fleets sailed three races.

With a day to go Tauranga's Burling and Tuke look hard to beat for the 2016 49er European crown. Securing this one would extend their incredible unbeaten run of regatta victories even further and make it four back to back 49er European Championship titles - to match their four consecutive 49er World Championship wins.

They managed to push further ahead of the pack on points and are now 41 clear of 2012 Olympic Champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS).

They placed 3rd in the first race of the day, then 17th in the second race, but nearly everyone on the race track collected one average result in today's tricky winds, and they bounced back with a 2nd.

Sunday's schedule includes three gold fleet races starting at 10am in Spain, with a medal race later in the day. With the extra racing planned on the final day (more often only the medal race is sailed on the last day) Burling and Tuke don't have this one in the bag just yet.

New Zealand's Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (Tauranga) were the most consistent crew on the 49erFX course today and they've bounced back into medal contention after starting the day in 9th overall.

With a 4th, a 2nd and a 4th in today's three races the NZL Sailing Team pair have leap-frogged up to 4th overall with some of their rivals struggling in today's conditions.

Maloney and Meech are on 69 points, eight adrift of Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzos (ESP) in 3rd with 61 points, while in 2nd place, Victoria Travascio and Maria Sol Brannz (ARG) have 60 points. The scene is set for an exciting battle between these crews on the water tomorrow.

Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) lead the 49erFX going into the final day, ten points ahead of the Argentinians.

New Zealand's Erica Dawson and Ellie Copeland took a race win today, a milestone moment for the young Aon Fast Track Squad crew competing against the best Olympic women's skiff sailors in the world.

With the win, and a 4th among their results today they also climbed the standings and will go into the final day in 11th place with a shot at making the top ten medal race.

Logan Dunning-Beck and Jack Simpson bagged a great result today, in race 14, with a 2nd place. They are in 15th overall.

"We thought we were going to grab a win, but the Italians pinched us right on the line. It was fun to get a good one in," said Dunning Beck.

Meanwhile in Mexico, the 2016 Women's Laser Radial World Championships got underway yesterday with three kiwis competing among the 70-strong fleet.

The best placed after day one is Sara Winther lying 22nd after a 10th and a 15th

- Bay of Plenty Times

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