Sam Meech thinks he got a bit lucky but few of his rivals believe that after he took a firmer grasp on the lead in the Laser fleet at the sailing world championships in Aarhus overnight (NZ time).
The 27-year-old was imperious yesterday, winning both of his races, and he came close to replicating that today with a second in his fourth race the only blemish, if you can call it that, on his scorecard to date.
The second is his discard for his worst result so far and is not only much better than most of his rivals but the best of any of the 1400 sailors across all classes in Aarhus.
His frighteningly good scoring won't have gone unnoticed among the rest of the Laser fleet, which is usually considered the most competitive of all the Olympic classes, and he showed his speed when he came back from 13th at the top mark to finish second.
"A little bit of luck today," Meech surmised. "There were some pretty scary moments because it was really, really tricky sailing out there. There were 90-degree wind shifts at times so I was just in the right place at the right time.
"It always helps [to have a good start] but it’s only the qualifying so far. The real action happens in those last two days of gold fleet."
The 165 Laser sailors will have one more day of qualifying before splitting into gold, silver and bronze fleets. Tom Saunders is the next best of the New Zealanders, sitting in 24th, with Andrew McKenzie not far behind in 26th.
Meech is not the only Kiwi making an impact in Aarhus.
Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn are joint leaders after the first day of racing in the 49er, Josh Junior is seventh after three days in the Finn, and both Josh Porebski and Trent Rippey (49er) and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (49erFX) are knocking on the top 10 after their first day of racing.
Aarhus has dished up some funky conditions in the first three days, and today shifty and puffy offshore winds hit the race courses.
Maloney and Meech were on the stadium course, which is arguably the most difficult of the nine in the Bay of Aarhus, and the pair sometimes went from hiking out to splashing in the water as they sailed into sudden light patches. In one race they went from third at the top mark to 29th at the bottom of the run so were reasonably satisfied to come away with a fifth, 13th and sixth in their three races that left them 11th overall.
"Hectic," is how Meech described it. "It was pretty crazy the differences between pressure and the lulls. Sometimes you couldn’t see it coming."
Dunning Beck and Gunn coped well in the 49er, posting a second and a first on top of an eighth (their discard) to leave them in a three-way tie for the lead. The pair have made considerable progress this year, and were second at the World Cup regatta in Hyeres, and are aiming for a top result at the world championships.
"We are hoping to be right up there," Dunning Beck said. "Everyone wants to win it and we would love to win but finishing in the top five or 10 is a realistic proposition. We will try to really nail it."
The pair are patently aware of the imminent return to the 49er of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, as is everyone in the fleet, and are keen to learn from the Olympic champions but also push them for Olympic selection.
The world championships double as the first opportunity to qualify boats for the 2020 Olympics, with the top eight nations in the 49er fleet in Aarhus guaranteed a place in Tokyo.
Results and standings after the third day of the sailing world championships in Aarhus, Denmark, overnight (NZ time):
Laser (165 boats)
1st: Sam Meech (NZL) 1 1 1 (2) - 3 pts
2nd: Kaarle Tapper (FIN) 2 2 1 (8) - 5 pts
3rd: Tom Burton (AUS) 1 5 (6) 1 - 7 pts
24th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 6 11 (22) 10 - 27 pts
26th: Andrew McKenzie (NZL) 6 4 (31) 19 - 29 pts
40th: George Gautrey (NZL) (18) 14 8 17 - 39 pts
116th: Matthew Kempkers (NZL) 40 12 45 (47) - 97 pts
Laser Radial (119 boats)
1st: Paige Railey (USA) 2 1 (16) 5 - 8 pts
2nd: Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) 4 3 2 (18) - 9 pts
3rd: Line Flem Host (NOR) 3 2 5 (27) - 10 pts
47th: Susannah Pyatt (NZL) 31 18 (42) 10 - 59 pts
60th: Olivia Christie (NZL) 28 48 (51) 3 - 79 pts
101st: Annabelle Rennie-Younger (NZL) (58) 57 54 20 - 131 pts
Finn (90 boats)
1st: Edward Wright (GBR) 12 (13) 1 5 2 2 - 22 pts
2nd: Max Salminen (SWE) 3 4 (16) 10 4 1 - 22 pts
3rd: Nicholas Heiner (NED) 6 7 5 3 (9) 1 - 22 pts
7th: Josh Junior (NZL) (25) 3 8 4 8 3 - 26 pts
15th: Andy Maloney (NZL) 6 (13) 5 5 11 13 - 40 pts
49er (86 boats)
1st: Logan Dunning Beck / Oscar Gunn (NZL) (8) 2 1 - 3 pts
2nd: Lucas Rual / Emile Amoros (FRA) 2 1 (6) - 3 pts
3rd: Mathieu Frei / Noe Delpech (FRA) 2 1 (10) - 3 pts
10th: Josh Porebski / Trent Rippey (NZL) 4 3 (25) - 7 pts
37th: Isaac McHardie / William McKenzie (NZL) 7 (18) 14 - 21 pts
49erFX (60 boats)
1st: Jena Hansen / Katja Salskov-Iversen (DEN) 1 (18) 1 - 2 pts
2nd: Odile van Aanholt / Marieke Jongens (NED) 2 1 (4) - 3 pts
3rd: Ida Marie Baad Nielsen / Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN) 1 (16) 3 - 4 pts
11th: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) 5 (13) 6 - 11 pts
Men's 470 (64 boats)
1st: Anton Dahlberg / Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) 1 3 (6) 5 5 1 - 15 pts
2nd: Keiju Okada / Jumpei Hokazono (JPN) (10) 6 2 4 2 6 - 20 pts
3rd: Tetsuya Isozaki / Akira Takayanagi (JPN) 5 6 2 7 1 (25) - 21 pts
14th: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) (25) 5 7 3 14 11 - 40 pts
Women's 470 (47 boats)
1st: Ai Kondo Yoshida / Miho Yoshioka (JPN) (12) 1 3 6 2 5 - 17 pts
2nd: Hannah Mills / Eilidh McIntyre (BGR) 9 (14) 1 1 5 3 - 19 pts
3rd: Camille Lecointre / Aloise Retornaz (FRA) 2 6 4 7 8 (36) - 27 pts
35th: Courtney Reynolds-Smith / Brianna Reynolds Smith (NZL) (40) 39 34 26 34 19 - 151 pts
Full results here.
- Audio of Sam Meech, Alex Maloney and Molly Meech and Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn is available on request. Please contact Yachting New Zealand communications manager Michael Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org or +45 5021 9047.