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NZ sailors looking to move up at Laser European champs

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NZ sailors looking to move up at Laser European champs_2
Sam Meech is in the top 10 after four days of racing at the Laser European championships. Photo: Joao Ferrand.

It's a game of fine margins at the top level of sailing and it didn't always go in the favour of the New Zealand squad on the fourth day of the Laser Europeans in Porto today.

Sam Meech slipped five places on the first day of gold fleet racing to 10th and George Gautrey dropped 10 places to 17th but Tom Saunders made some ground and is now 15th with two days remaining.

Meech has high expectations being the world's No 1 Laser sailor and his 15th and 18th in today's two races didn't meet those.

"It was a difficult day," he admitted. "I sailed like a lemon at times. We had quite a big tidal gain in the first race and I didn't appreciate how big it would be until it was too late and in the second race I tried to go that way thinking the same thing would happen but it was a much more open track and [staying in] phase would have paid.

"It's still all to play for with four more races. A lot can change. It was just unfortunate a lot of the top guys all had good days."

Olympic champion Tom Burton from Australia continued to sail impressively, banking two second-placed finishes to open up a 16-point gap on Great Britain's Lorenzo Chiavarini. Australia's Matthew Wearn, who won the recent Hyeres regatta ahead of Meech, is third with world champion Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus now fourth after finding himself down the standings early in the regatta.

Saunders has fought his way up the leaderboard, too, and was eighth and 31st in today's races.

"It was a much better breeze today, but still very tricky with a lot of current on the course," he said. "I managed to lead the first race at the bottom mark but got caught out on the second beat which turned into a one-way track and it was all downhill from there. I'll keep trying again tomorrow."

Gautrey had his toughest day of the regatta after being among the early contenders in qualifying, scoring a 20th and a 43rd.

"I struggled to get around the track in clean air and spent a little too long mixing it up among the pack," he said. "It was a very tough day. I'm going to have to reset and try again tomorrow."

Denmark's Anne-Marie Rindom continued her dominance of the women's Laser Radial fleet and now has a commanding 33-point lead over Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands, with Emma Plasschaert of Belgium third.

Both of New Zealand's sailors are in silver fleet and Olivia Christie was third in the second race of the day to be 68th overall. Annabelle Rennie-Younger slipped a few places today and is now 71st overall.

Results and standings after day 4 of the Laser European championships in Porto:

Laser (162 boats)

1st: Tom Burton (AUS) (9) 5 1 3 2 1 2 2 - 16 points

2nd: Lorenzo Chiavarini (GBR) 13 1 3 4 4 4 4 (21) - 32 pts

3rd: Matthew Wearn (AUS) 4 7 6 2 9 (18) 5 7 - 40 pts

10th: Sam Meech (NZL) 3 (25) 7 5 5 1 15 18 - 54 pts

15th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 14 11 16 6 8 6 8 (31) - 69 pts

17th: George Gautrey (NZL) 5 7 4 5 (31) 1 20 (43) - 73 pts

155th: Luke Deegan (NZL) 51 49 50 46 53 45 27 (55 BFD) - 312 pts

Laser Radial (120 boats)

1st: Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) 2 (3) 1 1 3 2 1 3 - 13 pts

2nd: Marit Bouwmeester (NED) 3 11 (14) 8 3 1 6 14 - 46 pts

3rd: Emma Plasschaert (BEL) 8 12 2 2 (26) 2 15 10 - 51 pts

Silver fleet

68th: Olivia Christie (NZL) 34 34 34 12 34 (34) 28 3 - 179 pts

71st: Annabelle Rennie-Younger (NZL) 38 32 24 17 25 30 (44) 23 - 194 pts

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