It was while out sailing with his parents that Sam Meech decided he wanted to put another Olympic campaign together.

Normally Tauranga's Meech would sit on the family boat chatting while his father did most of the work but this time, about a month after collecting bronze in the Laser class at the Rio Olympics, he asked to steer.

And he enjoyed it.

"I just started missing it," the 26-year-old member of the NZL Sailing Team said. "I missed being on the water. When you're training day in, day out and you're thinking about results you lose that enjoyment.

Advertisement

"I hadn't really made any decisions before [the Olympics] whether I would keep sailing so I got home and had to sort all that out all of a sudden. It was a bit scary for a while."

This week's World Cup regatta in Hyeres, France marks Meech's first competition back in the Laser since Rio and the start of his preparation for this year's pinnacle event, September's Laser world championships in Croatia.

He is one of a small team of New Zealand sailors competing in France in the Olympic classes, with most of the rest promising youngsters looking for increased international exposure.

Meech is not expecting too much after he underwent knee surgery in December with ongoing issues delaying his return to training until the end of February.

"It's neat being back in the boat and to have no expectations. I had no idea how I was going to go after five months off. I had never taken more than three weeks off over the last five years," he said.

"It's hard to say. I'm lacking a bit of feel in the boat but I seem to be going okay. I have built up a lot of experience over the years and hopefully that will see me through."

Recently Meech teamed up with former Olympic bronze medallist and two-time America's Cup winner Craig Monk in the Star Sailing League finals event in the Bahamas.

"We started terribly. I managed to break pretty much everything on the boat and on the first day we managed to capsize. And Stars never capsize. It was bad. We improved every day and on the last day we were leading both races and finished 16th overall which, considering the start, was really good," Meech said.

"I have spent hours and hours in the Laser so I think sailing other classes and with other people is something I want to do more of in the next few years. There's so much you can learn from other people."

There are plenty of others looking to learn from Meech and also knock him off his perch as New Zealand's top Laser sailor.

The class is one of the most competitive in this country and the likes of Tom Saunders (Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club), Andrew McKenzie and Andy Maloney, if he returns to the Laser after the upcoming America's Cup, are all targeting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

■ Meech lies in 11th place after the opening two races in the Laser competition.