Tauranga's Sam Meech is in pole position ahead of the medal race in the Laser fleet at the World Cup regatta in Gamagori, Japan, and has already done enough to at least guarantee silver.

The 26-year-old is the best-placed of the eight Kiwi boats at the first World Cup regatta of the 2018 season and seven have guaranteed themselves top 10 finishes.

The 49er competition concluded yesterday, with Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie finishing fifth, closely followed by Josh Porebski and Tauranga's Trent Rippey (sixth) and Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn (seventh).

Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox are still in with an outside chance of picking up a medal in the men's 470 but will need to claw back some of the ground they lost yesterday when slipping four places to sixth after a 14th in the only race of the day.


Meech has the luxury of knowing the worst he can do is finish second in the Laser and will keep a close eye on world champion Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus who is only three points behind. Great Britain's Lorenzo Brando Chiavarini is another 24 points behind in third.

"I am guaranteed a silver which is really, really cool, so it gives me a chance to really have a go to try to take the win," the Olympic bronze medallist said. "It's pretty close between me and Pavlos so I'm really looking forward to what should be a good challenge."

Meech has done well to consistently bank low scores when many of his rivals in the high-quality field stacked with world, Olympic and European champions have not been so fortunate.

Fellow Tauranga sailors Tom Saunders and Andrew McKenzie did enough to make the top 10 medal race but both finished mid-pack to qualify ninth and 10th respectively.
Only one race was possible on the Laser course before the wind flattened out and racing was eventually called off.

"It was another really wet and light-wind day," Meech said. "I got a really good start in the race and managed to put myself in the lead pack and then chipped away and took a couple of places around the course. I ended up third which was really good."

World champions Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell won gold in the 49er, holding off the challenge from fellow Brits James Peters and Fynn Sterritt, but it was an encouraging regatta for the Kiwi crews.

McHardie and McKenzie banked three top five results in the medal races, including a second in one, to jump ahead of the other two Kiwi crews.

"It was really cool to come away from it with a good result after a really tough regatta in some super unstable and random conditions," McKenzie said. "We are both extremely happy with how we performed in the three medal races today, managing to climb a few places on the leaderboard. It was also a bonus having our other two New Zealand 49er teams all pushing each to the end finishing fifth, sixth and seventh."