Rio silver medallists Alex Maloney and Molly Meech had a day to forget when the Olympic women’s 49er sailing competition began today.

In the first really big day of sailing, much attention was focused on the talented New Zealand pair. They were going well in their first race, solidly placed in fourth, when they capsized. By the time they managed to get underway again, they had dropped to 17th and eventually finished the race 16th.

Worse was to follow when they broke the start line in the second race and were disqualified.

Happily the New Zealanders put together a solid effort in the third race, improving throughout the journey, and finished fifth. At the end of a topsy-turvy day they find themselves in 13th position overall with 21 points (worst performance discarded), in a field of 21.

Maloney said later the pair thought they did a lot of good things in their day’s racing. “Unfortunately we made a couple of mistakes and they were costly. I think we can still back ourselves; there’s a lot of racing to go.”

Their description of their early start in the second race was quite humorous, though perhaps more so to those not out there trying to win a medal. They said it was a timing issue and indicated they knew fairly quickly they were in trouble: “We went through and looked back and we were the only ones going; the rest of the fleet wasn’t. It was pretty clear to us we must have gone too soon. We looked hopefully at the flag, but it was still to come down.”

New Zealand’s men’s laser representative Sam Meech, a bronze medallist in 2016, desperately needing to string together some top performances after struggling over the first two days, could manage just 16th and 14th in his two races today, but bounced back with a third placing in his final outing of the day. He is now 15th overall among the field of 35, with 60 points (worst performance discarded).

Josh Junior in the men’s finn opened his campaign with 12th and 10th placings to sit midway down the field of 19.

Late in the day the superstars of the New Zealand sailing squad, Rio gold medallists Blair Tuke and Peter Burling, began their tilt at defending their Olympic men’s 49er title against 18 other teams. There was only time for one race and the New Zealanders were never really a factor, finishing 12th.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games Molly Meech Alex Maloney Sailing
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