Country clash

New Zealand sailor Sam Meech fends off Aussie after a perfect start in Hyeres.

Photography by Sailing Energy / World Sailing

01 May 2019


Sam Meech has had plenty of battles with his Australian rivals over the years and four are lurking right behind him after the second day of the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres.

The 28-year-old, who won both of his opening races, still leads in Hyeres but has four Australians hot on his tail. Meech was ninth in his only race overnight – a second race was started but then abandoned as the wind died – and holds a slim lead in the Laser fleet over top Australians Matthew Wearn and Tom Burton. There are also three from Great Britain in the top 10.

Tom Saunders is the next best of the Kiwis in 11th, with George Gautrey 12th and youngster Josh Armit, who had the best result of the New Zealanders on day two with a fourth, in 24th overall.

Three races are scheduled tonight in an attempt to catch up before the 69 boats are split into gold and silver fleets when the real jostling at the front of the pack will take place. Only 20 points separates the top 25 boats, illustrating how close things are early in the regatta.


Hyeres represents the first European regatta of the season for New Zealand’s strong Laser squad as they build up to the European and world championships. It’s also the first one for Meech since knee surgery following his silver medal at February’s World Cup Series regatta in Miami.

“It has been a good start to the regatta so far,” Meech said. “I had a really good first day with a couple of wins which was really nice.

“Obviously having had a bit of time out of the boat with the surgery, it was a really nice way to come back. I have been going really well in training so I was pretty excited to get back into racing. Yesterday was awesome.

“There’s still a long way to go in the regatta but the first races have gone pretty well.”

Saunders is also well poised, only 11 points off the lead, and he was well positioned when the second race of the day was abandoned. But the Tauranga sailor doesn’t feel like it’s quite clicking for him yet.

“I’ve not had a great start but I’m not far off,” he said. “I feel good, I just need to put the boat in the right areas.

“I’m just happy to be back racing after sitting out the first few events in Europe.”

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