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Kiwi sailors in the hunt at European championships

It's often said the real racing doesn't start until gold fleet racing but a number of New Zealand sailors have given themselves every chance of success at the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 European championships with some impressive results in qualifying.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke continue to lead the 49er fleet, holding a one-point advantage over Spain's Diego Botin and Iago Lopez, with New Zealand's Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn 10 points further back in third.

All of the top 49er crews have gathered in Weymouth and the strength of the New Zealand squad has come to the fore with all four combinations among the top 25 who qualified for gold fleet.

Jason Saunders and Gemma Jones are in the mix in the Nacra 17 in seventh and Alex Maloney and Molly Meech are also well poised, sitting in fourth in a tight 49erFX fleet. The Olympic silver medallists have so far been very steady, with eight of their nine results inside the top five and their drop for their worst score an eighth.

"We have been pretty consistent overall and we've had a mixture of conditions," Meech said. "The first day was pretty windy and wavy, which was good fun to get out in and then the last two days we've been inside the harbour with nice flat water with anywhere between 10 and 15 knots, so it's been really cool racing, close fleet racing.

"We closed out qualifying today so it all starts again now we go into gold fleet. We have plenty of racing ahead of us so the plan is to be pretty consistent and just keep trying to tick away with some good results and see how we go towards the medal race."

The softer breeze of 10-12 knots today meant racing in the 49er fleet was a lot closer than the first two days, when fresh winds buffeted the course and tested some crews. It meant some combinations came back into contention while others slipped away.

"I think we just managed to hold in there," Dunning Beck said reflecting on a scorecard today that read 3, 8, 5. "It was a mixed day but we're happy to qualify for the final series where we are.

"Now we get to race each other, which will be interesting. It looks like a fairly fruity forecast tomorrow so it could be exciting. Hopefully we can keep posting some low scores, keep the boat going fast and keep starting well. That's about all there is to it at the moment. We will just keep trying to stay on that roll."

It's a similar approach to Andy Maloney, who is second after two days of racing at the Finn European championships in Athens.

The stakes are high for a lot of the Finn sailors, with Olympic qualifying spots up for grabs and some countries are also using it as a selection event.

Maloney has started particularly well in the large fleet, posting four scores in the top five to sit only four points behind Olympic champion Giles Scott of Great Britain. Josh Junior is 10th after five races.

"It's been tricky to be consistent so far in this event, with one big 80-boat fleet and shifts that come with big pressure differences," Maloney said. "If you get it wrong, it's easy to find yourself a long way behind pretty quickly.

"We've got a lot of racing to go so we'll try to get more consistent with reading these difficult shifts and take it from three. If we put ourselves in the right place on the race track up the first beat, it makes all the difference."

Results and standings after day 3 of the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 European championships in Weymouth:

49er (98 boats)

1st: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) 3 1 2 1 1 1 1 (9) 5 2 - 17 pts
2nd: Diego Botin / Iago Lopez (ESP) 2 5 1 1 2 1 1 1 (9) 4 - 18 pts
3rd: Logan Dunning Beck / Oscar Gunn (NZL) 4 1 1 1 3 (11) 2 3 8 5 - 28 pts

18th: Isaac McHardie / William McKenzie (NZL) 11 (17) 5 11 16 5 10 2 7 2 - 69 pts
24th: Josh Porebski / Trent Rippey (NZL) 10 (13) 7 8 11 7 10 (16) 10 3 - 79 pts

49erFX (57) boats

1st: Martine Grael / Kahena Kunze (BRA) 2 2 2 1 1 3 1 1 (6) - 13 pts
2nd: Charlotte Dobson / Saskia Tidey (GBR) 4 1 3 1 1 2 2 (13) 3 - 17 pts
3rd: Annermiek Bekkering / Annette Duetz (NED) 3 3 1 2 3 2 (6) 3 1 - 18 pts

4th: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) (8) 3 5 3 2 1 1 5 2 - 22 pts

Full results

Nacra 17 (55 boats)

1st: Ruggero Tita / Caterina Banti (ITA) 1 1 1 1 1 (7) 1 2 4 - 12 pts
2nd: John Gimson / Anna Burnet (GBR) 6 4 2 1 1 2 3 2 2 - 17 pts
3rd: Vittorio Bissaro / Maelle Frascari Diotallevi (ITA) 2 3 1 3 2 4 (12) 1 5 - 21 pts

7th: Gemma Jones / Jason Saunders (NZL) 4 4 3 4 3 (11) 2 8 2 - 30 pts

Full results

Results and standings after day 3 of the Finn European championships in Athens:

Finn (84 boats)

1st: Giles Scott (GBR) 1 3 1 3 (23) - 8 pts
2nd: Andy Maloney (NZL) 5 1 3 (17) 3 - 12 pts
3rd: Alican Kaynar (TUR) 3 7 9 4 (36) - 23 pts

10th: Josh Junior (NZL) 11 8 (22) 12 19 - 50 pts


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