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NZ sailors finish Enoshima World Cup on a high

Medal races are a different proposition to fleet racing and the New Zealand crews in action today at the Hempel World Cup Series regatta in Enoshima excelled.

Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox led from start to finish to win the men's 470 top-10, double points shootout to climb to seventh overall and Susannah Pyatt and Brianna Reynolds-Smith were third in the women's 470 race to also finish seventh.

The breeze died off as the afternoon wore on preventing any action in the Laser and Laser Radial medal races, and the serene conditions were in complete contrast to the strong winds and big waves early in the regatta. It meant Sam Meech finished sixth overall in the Laser and fellow Kiwi Tom Saunders was just behind him in seventh.

Neither Meech nor Saunders had a chance of claiming a medal and adding to the silver collected by Alex Maloney and Molly Meech in the 49erFX yesterday. Meech also missed out on racing in his medal race at last week's Olympic test event because of light winds when he had a good chance of climbing onto the podium.

Six New Zealand crews finished in the top 10 at the World Cup Series regatta and one of the most significant was the women's 470 combination of Pyatt and Reynolds-Smith.

The pair, who were competing in their first World Cup medal race since teaming up last October, recently qualified the boat for New Zealand for next year's Tokyo Games with their 15th placing at the 470 world championships and they will hope this result helps push their case for Olympic selection.

"I’m absolutely stoked with how much we have been able to achieve over the last month and a bit," Reynolds-Smith said. "After all of the training we have done and to get the results out of it and see where we are going is super-exciting for the future.

"To be able to push the top three in a lot of races and compete at a really high level on the Olympic waters is pretty exciting for us."

The pair had eight top-10 finishes in the 11 races, including two thirds and two fourths against a quality fleet.

Snow-Hansen and Willcox have had 32-straight races at the Olympic venue (470 world championships, Olympic test event and World Cup Series) and finished on a high. They have had moments of brilliance but also been off the pace in some races and know they need to put it all together.

"It was awesome to finish the Japan block off with a medal-race win against all the top boats," Willcox said.

"It's definitely been a learning regatta for us. We have identified a few gaps we want to plug from the worlds and test event and this event gave us another chance to get more racing here and work on some of those things.

"We're happy enough. It was great to get top eight at the worlds and another top eight here at the World Cup and finish with a medal-race win."

Meech and Saunders were disappointed not to get any racing today but it brought an end to a tiring block of racing and training in Japan, particularly for Meech. The Olympic bronze medallist was a long way back in the fleet halfway through the World Cup but stormed up to sixth with the sort of form that's made him one of the world's best.

He's collected three silver medals in international regattas so far this year and made every medal race but will now take a break from racing until the end of the year when he builds up for the next world championships in February.

"It was a little bit disappointing to miss another medal race," Meech said. "We don't get many chances through the Olympic cycle and this year there's been only two opportunities so to miss another two is a shame.

"We have had good sailing in Japan. I think if I came into this event fresh I would have absolutely loved the conditions. As it was, being a little bit tired after the worlds and test event, it was pretty hard work. But good hours in the legs and more hours on the [Olympic] courses which I think will be really valuable."

Results and standings after day 6 of the Hempel World Cup Series regatta in Enoshima, Japan, today:

Men's 470 (32 boats)

1st: Mathew Belcher / Will Ryan (AUS) 5 1 1 2 1 3 2 (8) 1 1 10 - 27 points
2nd: Jordi Xammar / Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) (25) 3 5 1 9 5 1 4 2 3 4 - 37 pts
3rd: Kazuto Doi / Naoya Kimura (JPN) 2 14 3 6 5 2 (15) 1 6 2 6 - 47 pts

7th: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) 1 10 14 18 12 (21) 5 10 5 11 2 - 88 pts

Women's 470 (21 boats)

1st: Silvia Mas / Patricia Cantero (ESP) 2 7 5 (10) 1 5 9 2 2 3 8 - 44 pts
2nd: Nia Jerwood / Monique de Vries (AUS) (10) 4 2 2 2 6 7 3 6 1 12 - 45 pts
3rd: Frederike Loewe / Anna Markfort (GER) 11 2 3 12 6 (17) 10 5 1 6 2 - 58 pts

7th: Susannah Pyatt / Brianna Reynolds-Smith (NZL) 8 3 4 8 4 9 (17) 8 13 13 6 - 76 pts

Laser (51 boats)

1st: Pavlos Kontides (CYP) 2 9 1 5 2 5 5 4 3 (11) - 36 pts
2nd: Matthew Wearn (AUS) 18 (19) 2 2 16 4 1 3 7 4 - 57 pts
3rd: Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) 3 12 4 (52 RET) 4 19 3 2 2 13 - 62 pts

6th: Sam Meech (NZL) 23 (31) 10 12 28 1 6 10 5 7 - 97 pts
7th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 26 (33) 6 14 3 22 3 16 8 6 - 103 pts
41st: George Gautrey (NZL) 45 15 22 30 21 (52 DNC) 52 DNC 52 DNC 52 DNC 52 DNC - 341 pts

Laser Radial (49 boats)

1st: Emma Plasschaert (BEL) 1 10 8 (15) 7 7 1 10 8 2 - 54 pts
2nd: Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) 13 12 1 13 2 3 (40) 5 5 3 - 57 pts
3rd: Alison Young (GBR) (33) 22 4 12 1 2 6 4 12 1 - 64 pts

29th: Olivia Christie (NZL) 26 (45) 34 40 31 27 14 35 26 11 - 244 pts
37th: Annabelle Rennie-Younger (NZL) (47) 44 30 32 36 28 19 38 33 31 - 291 pts
49th: Courtney Reynolds-Smith (NZL) 45 (48) 42 43 41 43 43 43 45 41 - 386 pts

Full results here

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