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Pre-Olympics: Burling and Tuke look for golden touch at Olympic test event

by Michael Brown/Yachting NZ 20 Aug 2019 09:16 PDT 21 August 2019
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) 49er - Day 4, Olympic Test Event, Enoshima, Japan, August 2019 © Jesus Renedo / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have wrapped up gold or silver in the 49er at the Olympic test event in Enoshima but there's really only one colour they're after.

The defending Olympic champions hold a handy 13-point lead over Poland's Pawel Kolodzinski and Lukasz Przybytek ahead of tomorrow's medal race and can't be caught by Great Britain's Dylan Flether and Stuart Bithell in third.

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech will also be chasing some silverware tomorrow in the 49erFX medal race, and currently sit in third only seven points off the leader. Sam Meech is third in the Laser and Andy Maloney fourth in the Finn, but both of those fleets still have one more day of racing before their top-10 medal race.

Burling and Tuke excelled in the beautiful 10-15 knot sea breeze off Enoshima, carding a first, fourth and seventh to continue their consistency. The top-10 medal race is double points so the pair will wrap up gold if they finish within six boats of their rivals.

"We're really happy with how today went," Burling said. "It's really good to get a nice lead but we definitely came here to try to win the gold. We have a little bit of work to do in the medal race to achieve that."

Tuke added: "It's all about winning this event so we're not really celebrating yet knowing we have gold or silver. We will go out there and put a good plan together. Exactly what that is, you will have to wait and see."

Maloney and Meech will also hatch a plan for their medal race but with four, even five, boats in within a chance of collecting a medal there are a lot more permutations at play.

"It's pretty close between the top four boats so it will be a case of just going out there and trying to win the race," Maloney said. "We will see what tomorrow brings."

Today saw Maloney and Meech close the gap on the leaders on the back of a fifth, fourth and 14th in their three races. They are now seven points adrift of Great Britain's Saskia Tidey and Charlotte Dobson with another point back to Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil in second.

"We sailed pretty well in the first two and really got ourselves back in the mix and gained a lot overall on the leaders today," Maloney said. "Unfortunately, the last one was a little trickier for us. We didn't quite execute our plan and our plan, in hindsight, was probably a little bit high risk."

Both Sam Meech and Andy Maloney felt like they were playing catchup in their races today and will look to recapture some of the results they showed earlier in the regatta in tomorrow's final day of fleet racing.

Meech slipped one place in the overall standings to third on the back of a ninth and 13th but, like there usually is in the Laser, there's a feeling there are still a few more twists before the medals are handed out. The Olympic bronze medallist has by far the best discard for his worst result out of the main contenders, meaning his rivals have less wriggle room.

"It was a pretty tough day," Meech explained. "I had really, really good starts but just couldn't tack and the right paid really strongly in both races. It was a pretty good day to be bailing off the line because the people who didn't get good starts and tacked right straight away did well.

"It's always nice [to have the best drop] with two races to go but I know I need to race well to go into the medal race in good shape. I still feel like I am sailing well and if I have a good day tomorrow I will be up there."

It's what Andy Maloney is targeting as well after the 29-year-old lost a little ground on the leaders in the Finn with two eighth-placed finishes. Hungary's Zsombor Berecz has put himself in the box seat and is now 16 points ahead of Great Britain's Giles Scott in second but Maloney is still well in the mix.

"I just couldn't quite get it right on the first upwinds today and couldn't get in the top group at the top mark so was playing catchup from there," he said. "[Zsombor] is sailing pretty well but the rest of us are having our moments this week. It's all still pretty tight. I will just have to put the pieces together tomorrow, have a good start, nail that first shift, and try to sail away from the fleet and get some wins again."

Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox enjoyed their best day of this regatta, finishing seventh and fifth in their two races to move up to 13th in the men's 470 and, with one more day of fleet racing, will be targeting a place in the medal race.

Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson missed out on the Nacra 17 medal race, finishing 17th overall.

New Zealand results and standings after Day 4 of the Olympic test event in Enoshima today:

49er (21 boats)

1st: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) 3 1 1 (13) 9 4 3 2 2 4 1 7 - 37 points 2nd: Pawel Kolodzinski / Lukasz Przybytek (POL) 2 4 7 2 3 5 11 6 1 (12) 4 5 - 50 pts 3rd: Dylan Fletcher / Stuart Bithell (GBR) 1 10 4 10 10 (16) 5 4 7 3 3 1 - 58 pts

49erFX (23 boats)

1st: Saskia Tidey / Charlotte Dobson (GBR) 1 4 1 2 2 3 5 12 1 (15) 13 6 - 50 pts 2nd: Martine Grael / Kahena Kunze (BRA) 5 2 4 5 1 (8) 2 2 8 8 7 7 - 51 pts 3rd: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) (14) 7 2 3 6 1 4 8 3 5 4 14 - 57 pts

Laser (35 boats)

1st: Jesper Stalheim (SWE) 5 15 2 2 3 2 (36 RET) 3 - 32 pts 2nd: Matt Wearn (AUS) 3 4 8 13 8 4 (22) 1 - 41 pts 3rd: Sam Meech (NZL) 1 2 (13) 1 12 7 9 13 - 45 pts

Finn (22 boats)

1st: Zsombor Berecz (HUN) 3 1 3 2 (8) 1 2 2 - 14 pts 2nd: Giles Scott (GBR) 1 6 2 10 4 6 1 (14) - 30 pts 3rd: Nicholas Heiner (NED) 2 2 7 7 6 (9) 6 5 - 35 pts

4th: Andy Maloney (NZL) 7 8 9 1 1 (12) 8 8 - 42 pts

Nacra 17 (21 boats)

1st: Ruggero Tita / Caterina Banti (ITA) 1 3 1 3 2 7 7 9 2 6 5 (11) - 46 pts 2nd: John Burnet / Anna Gimson (GBR) 6 5 5 7 7 2 2 1 (8) 8 1 4 - 48 pts 3rd: Santiago Lange / Cecilia Saroli (ARG) 5 6 2 11 1 1 1 4 (12) 7 12 3 - 53 pts

17th: Micah Wilkinson / Erica Dawson (NZL) 20 15 14 8 (22 UFD) 14 14 14 17 19 13 16 - 164 pts

Men's 470 (22 boats)

1st: Mathew Belcher / Will Ryan (AUS) 2 3 3 (8) 3 1 8 1 - 21 pts 2nd: Anton Dahlberg / Fredrik Bergsrom (SWE) 5 2 5 4 4 3 1 (7) - 24 pts 3rd: Jordi Xammar / Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) 1 1 4 (20) 1 10 2 6 - 25 pts

13th: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) (20) 14 16 1 14 20 7 5 - 77 pts

Full results click here

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