Sailing: Team in good shape

New Zealand has won three medals at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma - the first of the major European World Cup Regattas - including one each to Tauranga's Meech siblings.

Andy Maloney won gold in the Laser, Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech silver in the 49erFX with Sam Meech taking home bronze also in the Laser.

The medals have come despite New Zealand's 2012 Olympic medallists not competing at this regatta, giving a strong indication that the NZL Sailing Team is in good shape early on in this new Olympic cycle.

The 49erFX women's skiff event was always going to capture the spotlight at this regatta. A new class for the Rio Olympic Games, this is the first time the current campaigners from around the world have come together and lined up on the same race track.

Sailing four stadium-style races with only eight boats on the course, the young kiwi pairing of Maloney and Meech were fourth, second, second and wrapped things up with a win.

Across the six days of racing, Maloney and Meech won five races and only finished outside the top eight on one occasion.

Sam Meech sailed strongly to place fifth and third and claim the bronze medal. This is an excellent result for Meech, who is a two-time medallist for New Zealand at ISAF Youth World Championships with gold in 2009 and bronze in 2008.

Both Maloney and Meech will sail in September's Red Bull Youth America's Cup as part of the NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand, both announced in February among the crew selections to sail on an AC45 with Tauranga's Peter Burling at the helm.

Another Tauranga sailor Andrew Murdoch came eighth and fourth to finish seventh overall at what is his international debut in the Finn class after announcing his switch from the Laser earlier this year.

High performance manager, Jez Fanstone, is pleased with the team's overall performance in Palma.

"Andy sailed really well, and Sam did well to hang in there and take the bronze too," she said.

"Great from Alex and Molly at this regatta, which is their first in a full strength fleet, and a huge opportunity for learning. Tom Saunders is really stepping things up and Josh and Andrew have had a great first showing in the Finn class."

"New combination Paul and Dan only just missed their medal race in the 470 by one point, and the Nacra crew of Gemma and Jason are doing good things too. Everyone is in good spirits."

The next major event for the NZL Sailing Team is ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres from April 20-27.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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