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Medals on the menu for NZ sailors at European championships

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

One medal is in the bag and another couple are a possibility as a handful of European sailing championships come to a close.

Andy Maloney has guaranteed himself at least a bronze going into tonight's medal race at the Finn Europeans, while Peter Burling and Blair Tuke lead the 49er event with two days remaining and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech are third in the 49erFX.

Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn (49er) and Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (Nacra 17) are both seventh in their respective fleets and not out of it with still plenty of points to play for.

Andy Maloney has sailed impressively all week but didn't get a chance to improve his position today due to light winds and then a storm rolling into Athens.

The top 10 sailors will now contest the double points medal race and Maloney has secured at least bronze. He can't win gold, which will be decided by Olympic champion Giles Scott of Great Britain and Hungary's Zsombor Berecz, but is only seven points behind Berecz who won last year's world championships.

New Zealand's Josh Junior is seventh overall and will also contest the medal race.

"It's nice to be going into the medal race with a medal guaranteed and hopefully able to get up into silver," Maloney said. "I will be going out there to win the race tomorrow but I will have to keep an eye on [Berecz]. If I get a chance to put one on his face on the upwind then I will definitely take that, but I will just try to win the race and hopefully the points play out behind me.

"It's going really well for the Kiwi Finn team at the moment. Both Josh and I are in the medal race, which is good. It would have been nice for Josh to get up on the podium. I managed to sniff out a few good shifts this week and be near the front more often than not so I'm really happy with that at a really tricky venue. To come away with a few good results and a couple of race wins was really pleasing."

Burling and Tuke have posted five race wins of their own this week at the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 European championships in Weymouth but it was their consistency on day five that saw them jump back to the top of the standings.

The pair were sixth, fourth and second in the three gold fleet races today to establish a seven-point lead over Spain's Diego Botin and Iago Lopez. They did it in a shifty 10-knot northerly, which was different from the fresh sea breezes and lumpy seas they had experienced in the early stages of the regatta.

"It was pretty shifty but nice to have a change of conditions from all of the same conditions in the first four days," Tuke said. "We managed to post three good scores, a six, four and a two. The racing was really close and small mistakes proved costly so we were happy to walk away with that.

"As we head into the final two days of the regatta we just have to keep posting low scores and see how we finish at the end but we are happy with how we have been sailing and just looking forward to the last bit of it."

Maloney and Meech were also happier after a tough day yesterday, banking a third, first and 13th in today's three races in the 49erFX fleet. The Olympic silver medallists are now third behind Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil and world champions Annermiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz of the Netherlands. "We had pretty good racing in a dying breeze," Maloney said. "We were pretty happy with how we sailed in the first two, getting off the line cleanly and keeping things really simple. In the last one we struggled to get off the line and find our feet.

"For the next few races of the final series we want to work on our consistency and get some really solid races under our belt. It's tight racing with 29 boats on the start line and there's definitely a lot to play for."

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