Tauranga sailors Molly Meech and Tom Saunders won gold at the Enoshima Olympic Week regatta in Japan over the weekend.

Meech and Alex Maloney won gold in the 49erFX with Saunders continuing his great form in the Laser.

It was a good return for the Kiwi contingent and eight of the 10 boats finished inside the top 10. Erica Dawson and Kate Stewart were third in the 49erFX, as were Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn in the 49er.

A number of countries were using the three-day regatta as a first opportunity to race at the venue for the 2020 Olympics and the Laser fleet, in particular, was littered with world, Olympic and European champions.


Saunders clinched gold on the back of a second placing in the last race, sailed in miserable weather as heavy rain hit Enoshima, finishing 19 points ahead of Australia's Matthew Wearn. He was the most consistent sailor across the three days, with two race wins and only two placings outside the top 10 across the seven races.

Tauranga's Sam Meech was fifth overall after a 16th placing.

It was a terrific end to a long season for Saunders that has seen him on the road for nearly four months. He was eighth at the world championships in Croatia and fourth at the world championships test event in Aarhus and his results could be enough to see him elevated to the top-tier NZL Sailing Team.

"This is my first proper win in the Laser fleet so I am really happy," Saunders said.

"It's been quite a long season, so to finish it off like this means a lot. I will have a nice break when I get home and reset and go from there. There was obviously a lot of rain and there was poor visibility. It was probably the worst conditions I have sailed in. Going upwind you couldn't see the top mark and you could barely see the rest of the fleet. It was pretty strange in that sense but you just had to work with what you got."

Maloney and Meech did that better than anyone in the 49erFX fleet today, easily winning both races to finish nine points ahead of the German pair of Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz who had started the day level on points.

The Olympic silver medallists had a poor start to the regatta, ending the first day in seventh in the small fleet of 12 boats, but roared back with five wins and a second placing in the last six races.

"It's cool to win the regatta, the first regatta at the Olympic venue," Meech said. "But it will get more and more competitive over coming years with the fleet growing and I think everyone here was learning about the venue, just figuring things out."

One thing all of the New Zealand sailors worked out was that it rains a lot in Japan in October, and a second typhoon rolled through bringing torrential rain and gusts in excess of 20 knots.

"It was lovely," Maloney said with a wry smile.

"We like a good bit of rain coming from New Zealand. Molly almost pulled the pin this morning. She keeps warning me she doesn't sail in the rain but we survived."