Sixty seconds with: Molly Meech

Molly Meech (L) and Alex Maloney, 49erFX. Photo / William Booth
Molly Meech (L) and Alex Maloney, 49erFX. Photo / William Booth

Molly, how valuable was your childhood for nurturing a sailing career?

Mum and Dad bought a boat when I was first born and we moved on board at Kerikeri. We left New Zealand when I was three. I don't think they originally planned to go the whole way around the world, but they enjoyed it so much, they never looked back.

My brother [Laser Olympic contender Sam] and I travelled on a 52-foot yacht with Mum and Dad for seven years. We sailed through the Pacific Islands to Australia, up the Red Sea, dropped the mast through the French canals, spent time in England for 18 months, then came back through the Panama Canal and headed home via Tahiti and Samoa.


Tell us about growing up with Twisted Sister?

I started sailing an Optimist on Hamilton Lake [Lake Rotoroa]. I didn't really enjoy that, so asked Mum if I could go into a P-class boat, but only if we bought a boat called Twisted Sister which was sailed by one of the older girls I looked up to.

I liked her boat because it was purple. I chose it on colour not performance. It was all about looks.


Your crewmate Alex Maloney asked you to join her in the 49er FX class, which will debut at Rio. What are your roles?

I'm the crew, so have a more physical role, hoisting and dropping the kite and working the mainsheet upwind, while Alex steers and does most of our tactics. It's the combination which makes the boat go fastest. When we heard the women's skiff [the 49er FX] was coming into the Olympics, we thought it was a cool opportunity, and it's been amazing the whole way.


You won the inaugural 49er FX world championships in 2013 and have finished 12th (2014), eighth (2015) and eighth (2016) in subsequent events. How has the fleet racing changed?

Winning that first regatta was an amazing achievement. It showed if we put our minds to something, we can do it. But the racing has become closer since 2013. It's been a challenge growing with the fleet, but we're still in touch.


You have spent time training with the 49er men's world champions and Olympic silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Will that continue ahead of Rio?

Hopefully we'll continue to do so as much as we can, when they are not on America's Cup duty. When we sail with them, it's a great opportunity. They seem to be managing both campaigns well.


You've visited the Rio venue. What is it like sailing in those waters with the threat of sofas floating past?

We've had good experiences so far. The water [pollution] is not ideal, but everyone has the same body of water to work with. You've just got to make the most of it and practise in the conditions. Like any Olympics, it'll be decided by who manages those conditions best.

We're heading to two regattas in Europe in a couple of weeks, then have a couple of trips planned to Rio, but we've been down there enough now to know what to do.

- Herald on Sunday

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