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Sam Meech chasing another medal in Hyeres

Sam Meech's ambition at the start of each regatta is to put himself in contention to finish on the podium going into the medal race and invariably he achieves that which is why he's the world's top-ranked Laser sailor.

The 28-year-old will once again race for a medal tonight (NZ time) and goes into the top 10 medal race at the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères in second.

He can't win gold, with Australia's Matthew Wearn having established an unassailable 23-point lead over Meech, but the New Zealander has a handy five-point buffer over another Australian, Luke Elliott, in third. Olympic champion Tom Burton (yes, he's Australian, too) is another five points back in fourth.

Two other Kiwis will be in the medal race, with George Gautrey presently in ninth and Tom Saunders 10th to round out a good week for the New Zealand Laser squad.

The fifth day of racing saw plenty of action as winds in excess of 20 knots hit the coast off Hyeres which tested the sailors, especially as the Laser fleet got in three races. Meech banked scores of second, second and third to move up from fourth overall at the start of the day.

"It was good, fun racing," Meech said. "It was pretty exciting [in the strong winds] and there were definitely times when we were holding on downwind with a very short chop.

"I was in the top three in all of the races, so that was quite nice. Unfortunately, Matt Wearn was going really fast and it kind of sucks so he ended up winning the last two races fairly convincingly. By the last race I was really just hanging off the side of the boat trying to get around the course. The body is pretty tired now."

Medal races are much shorter and sharper than regular racing and feature only the top 10 sailors in a double points format.

No New Zealanders will feature in the Laser Radial medal race but Olivia Christie and Annabelle Rennie-Younger are showing good progress early in the new Radial programme.

The pair competed in both Palma and Genoa before Hyeres and will round out this block by competing at the Laser European championships in Portugal.

Laser Radial coach Rosie Chapman has been encouraged by the development of the youngsters.

"It has been great to see their progression," Chapman said. "There is a really good team ethic between them and they are working really hard.

"They are focusing on process goals and really going into every day with a goal they are trying to achieve on the water and this is really showing with some promising results. Both of them are regularly placing inside the top 10, top 15 in races, so not only are the results improving but, most importantly, they are improving all round."

Christie was 12th in two of her three races overnight to finish the regatta in 16th overall and Rennie-Younger achieved her third top-10 result of the event to finish 23rd.

Results and standings after the fifth day of the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères:

Laser (69 boats)

1st: Matthew Wearn (AUS) (7) 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 3 1 1 - 14 points
2nd: Sam Meech (NZL) 1 1 9 3 2 1 (13) 13 2 2 3 - 37 pts
3rd: Luke Elliott (AUS) 3 8 3 1 1 2 1 6 4 13 (17) - 42 pts

9th: George Gautrey (NZL) (22) 3 10 2 4 3 9 9 9 18 12 - 79 pts
10th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 21 2 11 6 12 5 3 11 (36 UFD) 6 5 - 82 pts
24th: Josh Armit (NZL) 19 18 4 16 9 7 24 27 10 (29) 25 - 159 pts

Silver fleet
60th: Luke Deegan (NZL) 26 30 28 25 30 24 21 16 (35 UFD) 12 - 212 pts

Laser Radial (50 boats)

1st: Maria Erdi (HUN) 1 4 (11) 5 5 1 8 (15) 2 1 4 - 42 pts
2nd: Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) 17 6 1 1 1 3 (19) 7 5 5 5 - 51 pts
3rd: Emma Plasschaert (BEL) 5 22 (26) 2 4 4 22 6 1 2 2 - 70 pts

16th: Olivia Christie (NZL) 31 11 21 9 12 37 (45) 28 12 12 17 - 190 pts
23rd: Annabelle Rennie-Younger (NZL) 8 25 29 31 21 27 (34) 10 24 10 22 - 207 pts

Full results here

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