Please select your home edition
Hella Dual Colour Floodlights - Top 728 x 90px - 6 jpg

Kiwi trio, Meech, Saunders and Gautrey hope to fire at Laser world champs

by Yachting New Zealand 5 Feb 22:01 NZDT
SamMeech (NZL) - Laser - Day 3, Olympic Sailing Test Event - Enoshima - August 2019 © Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

The 28-year-old, Sam Meech, is one of five Kiwis returning to Melbourne to compete in the upcoming Laser world championships. His last trip there wasn't the most enjoyable and he contemplated returning to New Zealand between the Australian Laser championships and Sail Melbourne earlier this month as illness at the height of the bushfires took its toll.

He soldiered on and finished 12th in Sail Melbourne. That might seem respectable in a quality fleet but Meech has a record of incredible consistency and his worst result in the previous two years was sixth

"I don’t know if the smoke got to me or what but I was pretty crook at the last event in Melbourne," he said. "I made it through the second event but I was lucky I had enough time when I got home to get better.

"I was coughing pretty badly. I was pretty sick. It’s only been five days or so at home but I'm coming right now."

Meech knows he needs to be at his best to claim a first Laser world title in what is arguably the most competitive of all the Olympic classes. More than 130 boats will line up on February 11 for the start of six days of racing and all of the world's best will be there as the Tokyo Olympics loom into view.

New Zealand has a strong Laser squad, with Tom Saunders and George Gautrey also near the front of the fleet. Gautrey was third at last year's world championships in Japan, Meech fourth and Saunders 10th and the trio will be joined in Melbourne by Josh Armit and Luke Deegan.

Saunders will be competing at his eighth Laser world championships and goes in on the back of some solid form, finishing fourth at the Australian nationals and eighth at Sail Melbourne.

"I’m tracking pretty well," he said. "I definitely feel confident and comfortable in Melbourne. We have spent a lot of time there and that’s a big part of it so I’m excited for the next few weeks. This is crunch time now in terms of [Olympic] selection so it’s now or never."

Gautrey has emerged as a contender after his breakthrough performance at last year's world championships and he managed to collect bronze despite dislocating his knee halfway through the regatta.

"Looking back on it, it almost took the pressure off," the 22-year-old said. "After the third day I was sitting in second or third and I was like, 'holy moly, I am right at the front of the fleet'. You start to put all this pressure on yourself but something like what happened to my knee takes all that pressure away. You want to be able to try to recreate that but I don’t want to do that to my knee again.

"It was a big step up for me all of last year. It’s about building up a base of results and experience that both Tom and Sam have over me. I’m getting there but I still feel there are things Tom and Sam do a lot better than me. I’m nowhere near the peak yet but we will try to get there eventually."

Melbourne has delivered largely strong winds over the past few weeks, which will suit the New Zealand sailors. Meech will be happy with almost anything, though, as long as it's not smoky.

Related Articles

Olympic moments abound
The Summer of Sailing around Port Phillip has been quite the big deal The Summer of Sailing around Melbourne's Port Phillip has been quite the big deal. How cool would it be to have Australia represented in the 470M, Laser, 470W, Finn, 49er, FX, Nacra, and also Laser Radial Posted on 16 Feb
USA at ILCA Laser Standard Worlds, overall
Buckingham qualifies for Tokyo 2020 The first round of the 2020 World Championships come to a close with the conclusion of the 2020 ILCA Men's Laser Standard World Championships. Posted on 16 Feb
British team at ILCA Laser Standard Worlds overall
Hanson holds head high after challenging worlds British Laser sailor Elliot Hanson said he would walk away with his head held high from the Laser world championships in Sandringham, Melbourne, after narrowly missing out on bronze. Posted on 16 Feb
ILCA Laser Standard Worlds overall
Philipp Buhl dominates the event German Laser sailor Philipp Buhl put together an exemplary scorecard to win the 2020 ILCA Standard Men's World Championship by 12 points. Posted on 16 Feb
AUS team at the ILCA Laser Standard Worlds overall
Silver medal for Matt Wearn Matt Wearn has won a Silver Medal at the 2020 Laser Men's Standard World Championships at Sandringham Yacht Club today. This is the Tokyo-bound athlete's third World Championship silver, to go with the results collected in Aarhus in 2018 Posted on 16 Feb
$6m decision made in favour of Laser designer
A long running Court battle has been decided by a Jury with a multi-million damages award. A District Court of Connecticut Jury has handed down a Verdict in favour of Bruce Kirby Inc, the designer of the ILCA Laser singlehander. A damages award in excess of $6million is said to have been awarded. Posted on 16 Feb
USA at ILCA Laser Standard Worlds, day 5
Barnard kicked off the day with an impressive seventh-place finish While the competitors in Geelong will finish packing the containers and prepare to get on their long flights back to the states tomorrow, the Laser sailors across the bay are preparing for the final races that will determine their U.S. Olympic trials. Posted on 15 Feb
AUS team at the ILCA Laser Standard Worlds day 5
Wearn in podium position after a gruelling penultimate day Matt Wearn has moved into third place after a gruelling day on the water at the 2020 Laser Men's Standard World Championships at Sandringham Yacht Club. Posted on 15 Feb
ILCA Laser Standard Worlds day 5
Black flags hurt champions after tough day at Laser Worlds Two Olympic medallists and the sailor who holds second place overall made it tough for themselves in very testing conditions at the ILCA Laser Standard Men's World Championship today. Posted on 15 Feb
Busy racing programme for 2020 at Ullswater YC
A packed sailing programme for club members and seven major open events Ullswater Yacht Club launches into the 2020 racing season with a packed sailing programme for club members and seven major open events for visiting racers as well as the region's biggest annual event for junior sailors. Posted on 14 Feb
Naiad 660x82px_Superyacht2018 WaterShed Laser 660x82 JPGGAC Pindar Freight