Kerikeri was once again proved as a sailing hotbead as Alex Maloney and Molly Meech took silver in the 49erFX class.

While disappointed that they didn't get the gold they craved, Maloney was philosophical about it.

"We were always out there to win but if anyone else was going to, it was so nice to see the Brazilians do it in their home town," she said.

"It's a special moment for them and it's given the place a real vibe."

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The Brazilian's first sailing gold medal capped off an incredibly tight 49erFX regatta, with placings coming right down to the medal race.

Maloney and Meech began the double-point race one point behind three boats tied for the lead - Brazil, Spain and Denmark.

The former world champions made a slick start and claimed the gold medal position by the first mark, sitting just behind Italy.

Brazil loomed up behind and the race swung on the decision of the respective crews at the start of the fifth and penultimate leg.

They held a 21 second advantage over the home crew at the second mark but that was cut to 13 seconds by the third mark.

Knowing they had to remain in front of the Brazilians to claim gold, Maloney, 24, and Meech, 23, saw their lead cut to six seconds at the next mark as Grael and Kunze opted to head to the opposite side of the course to make up the advantage.

The move paid off for the locals with them grabbing a 10 second lead at the final mark to set up a dramatic drag race to the line and earn gold.

Maloney hoped Rio's fickle winds would do them a favour on the final leg.

"We were getting close, we were getting quite excited. It's never over until it's over in Rio," she said.

"But the Brazilians sailed it out. They made a ballsy call on the leg before that and good on them. They had to do it if they were going to catch us and it worked."