First Tauranga sailor underway at Rio

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Meech opens Olympic campaign to get NZL Sailing Team underway. Photo/supplied
Meech opens Olympic campaign to get NZL Sailing Team underway. Photo/supplied

Sam Meech has opened his first Olympic regatta sailing two races today on Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro to lie 6th overall in the Laser event.

"It's fair to say I was pretty nervous before the first start, but as soon as the start gun goes its business as usual," said the 25-year old who represents the Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club.

"I had fantastic starts, which was great because that was my aim for the day."

Meech is competing in the largest fleet of all ten Olympic events featuring 46 sailors (from 46 nations) going up against the likes of local legend Robert Scheldt, and Great Britain's Nick Thompson, winner of the past two Laser World Championships.

In race one Meech came home in 19th place, and reported that the conditions on the Naval course were challenging in places; "We had good breeze, but it was really tricky.

The outer loop of our course was insane, it was between 5 and 15 knots and it was really tricky to tell what was going to happen next."

In his second race Meech took 3rd place lifting him up to hold 6th in the overall standings with 22 points at the end of the first day of competition.

Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia and Julio Alsogaray of Argentina top the leader board both on six points.

Meech returns to the race track tomorrow for two more races and will compete over the coming week building towards the Laser medal race on Monday 15 August.

Tomorrow the Finn class get underway and another kiwi sailor will make his Olympic debut. Josh Junior, the 26-year-old from Worser Bay Boating Club in Wellington, starts racing in the men's heavy-weight dinghy.

NZL Sailing Team current standings
6th Sam Meech (Laser) (19, 3)
Full results are available on World Sailing's Olympic Website here - http://www.sailing.org/olympics/rio2016/results/index.php#.V6ZH_Y6BLqM
Yet to start;
Josh Junior (Finn)
Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (Women's 470)
Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox (Men's 470)
Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (Nacra 17)
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (49er)
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (49erFX)
NZL Sailing Team Rio 2016 Media Guide here: http://www.yachtingnz.org.nz/racing/olympic/2016-olympic-sailing-team
In total, 380 sailors from 66 nations will race in 274 boats across ten Olympic Events across seven racing areas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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