Sam Meech has made a habit of winning races at the Laser European championships in La Rochelle, France, and added another on Friday to keep him in the hunt for the title.

The Olympic bronze medallist from Tauranga has now won five of his eight races but his latest was more significant because it came on the first day of gold fleet racing. Meech is in second, one point adrift of Australia's Matt Wearn with Sweden's Jesper Stalheim a further seven points back in third.

Andrew McKenzie slipped a couple of places to fifth after a 25th and an eighth but is still in with a chance of picking up a medal with two days remaining.

Meech was 15th in the first race, which is now his discard for his worst result, after picking the wrong side of the course.


"In the first race I got a little bit caught out," he said. "I thought the wind was going to go left but there was tide on the right which made it advantageous to go over there. Andrew, George [Gautrey] and I got caught out on the left and at the top mark the right came in really strongly so we were battling back in that race as much as we could.

"In the second race I had a much better start and went the right way. I was lucky enough to pass a couple of guys who were in front of me at the top mark and then hang onto the lead. Hopefully the first race doesn't hurt me too much in this regatta but there are still two more days to go and four races is heaps in this fleet, especially if we get some more tricky conditions."

La Rochelle is famous for its tidal conditions but the regatta has been blessed with 12 to 20 knot sea breezes throughout and similar conditions are forecast for the remaining two days.

McKenzie felt like he battled the whole day but is still in the hunt due to his consistently good scoring over the first three days.

"Unfortunately I got the first beat terribly wrong in the first race so it was a bit of a race to forget. I didn't have the best start in the second race but had the right strategy so it was nice to grind a few places down throughout the race and get a solid number on the board," he said.

"Despite a bit of a disappointing day I'm still right there overall. With four more races, there are a lot of points up for grabs so I'll be trying to finish strongly."

Kiwi Susannah Pyatt will have the same aim in mind in the Laser Radial fleet. Pyatt had a disappointing day with a 44th and a 42nd on the first day of gold fleet racing seeing her slip 10 places to 29th overall.