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Meech rediscovers his winning touch at World Cup

Tom Saunders is one of five New Zealand boats in the top 10 at the World Cup Series regatta in Enoshima. Photo: Sailing Energy / World Sailing.

Sam Meech decided he'd had enough of being beaten up so returned to the sort of form on day four of the World Cup Series regatta in Enoshima that has made him one of the world's best Laser sailors.

The world No 2 went into the day in the unfamiliar position of 20th but won the first race in commanding fashion and then backed it up with a sixth to move up to 12th overall.

Fellow Kiwi Tom Saunders is 10th and, with three races on Saturday before the double points, top-10 medal race, also still in contention.

Susannah Pyatt and Brianna Reynolds-Smith have one more day of fleet racing as well and are still very much in the mix in the women's 470 in sixth, only seven points off third.

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech didn't race yesterday, with the wind and wave conditions on the upper limit, so will go straight into their medal race today in sixth. It's been a challenging event for the skiffs, with the 49erFX completing only five races, and even then in the last one only five of the 36 boats got safely around the track.

Alex and Molly are only seven points off third and will fancy their chances in a high-stakes medal race.

Sam Meech went a long way to ensuring he competes in the Laser medal race with his two best races of the week. He had been off the pace in the early stages of the regatta, and admitted yesterday it felt like he had seaweed on his foils slowing him down.

"It was a much better day for me today," says Sam. "I had had enough of getting beaten up over the last couple of days so got some good starts and was generally going the right way with some nice lanes. It was much nicer to be sailing at the front of the fleet than at the back.

"It was almost a really good day. I was second around the top mark in the second race and it felt like we extended pretty hard but it was just really light going around the reach mark and the whole fleet caught up. I'm still really happy with the day and hopefully I can have another one like that tomorrow so I can finish off well."

World champion Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus has established a handy 23-point lead but the rest of the fleet is bunching up and everyone has a big discard for their worst race on their card so a lot can still change.

Tom Saunders has the potential to mix it up with the leaders in 10th, and was second in the day's final race.

"It was definitely on the upper limits today and a couple of our downwinds was basically survival mode," says Tom. "I missed out on a big right shift in the first race and the fleet got quite spread so it was hard to make up ground.

"I had a better second race. Just staying in phase was key so I managed to round in good shape and had a good first run which set me up for the rest of the race. The last bottom mark got quite close with the Aussies for buoy room so it was nice to wave at TB (Tom Burton) upside down to the reach to finish."

Susannah Pyatt and Brianna Reynolds-Smith continued their good form, finishing fourth and ninth in their first two races but a 720-degree penalty off the start line of the third race made life difficult and they went on to finish 17th.

They're still well placed in sixth, only seven points behind Spain's Silvia Depares and Patricia Cantero in third, and have shown plenty of speed this week. It's been a good return for a pair who started sailing together less than 12 months ago and recently qualified the women's 470 for New Zealand for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

"Today we made some massive gains on the big goals we brought into this regatta, so we're really happy with that," says Susannah. "We made some silly errors - I had to do a couple of turns off the last start which cost us big - but we're still really stoked and looking to build on that tomorrow and will see how much more we can learn in this regatta."

Brianna added: "Every regatta is important to us. Compared to the rest of the fleet, we haven't done many [as a combination] so we're always trying to build on what we know."

The 49ers managed one race before the second was abandoned as many in the fleet capsized as the wind strengthened. Both Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn (23rd) and Isaac McHardie (24th) have had difficult regattas and missed out on the medal race.

The Nacra 17 fleet were held ashore today because of the conditions but Gemma Jones and Josh Porebski will start tomorrow's medal race in 10th. Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox had another up-and-down day, with a fifth their highlight, and are ninth with one more day of fleet racing in the men's 470.

Results and standings after day 4 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 2 2 - 9 points
2nd: Jordi Xamma / Nicolas Rodriguez (ESP) (25) 3 5 1 9 4 1 - 23 pts
3rd: Anton Dahlberg / Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) 8 7 (33 RET) 3 3 3 3 - 27 pts

9th: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) 1 10 14 18 12 (20) 5 - 60 pts

Women's 470 (21 boats)

1st: Elena Berta / Bianca Caruso (ITA) (13) 6 1 6 3 1 5 - 22 pts
2nd: Nia Jerwood / Monique de Vries (AUS) (10) 4 2 2 2 6 7 - 23 pts
3rd: Silvia Depares / Patricia Cantero (ESP) 2 7 5 (10) 1 5 9 - 29 pts

6th: Susannah Pyatt / Brianna Reynolds-Smith (NZL) 8 3 4 8 4 9 (17) - 36 pts

49er (37 boats)

1st: Tim Fischer / Fabian Graf (GER) 3 6 3 6 (14) 6 9 - 33 pts
2nd: Dominik Buksak / Szymon Wierzbicki (POL) 2 4 14 (38 DNF) 9 4 7 - 40 pts
3rd: Benjamin Bildstein (AUT) 16 7 8 3 (21) 8 1 - 43 pts

23rd: Logan Dunning Beck / Oscar Gunn (NZL) 32 25 10 16 (38 DNF) 13 18 - 114 pts
24th: Isaac McHardie / William McKenzie (NZL) 1 24 (38 RET) 14 38 DNF 38 DNF 16 - 131 pts

49erFX (36 boats)

1st: Annemiek Bekkering / Annette Duetz (NED) 4 9 (37 BFD) 3 3 - 19 pts
2nd: Klara Wester / Rebecca Netzler (SWE) 6 3 6 6 (37 DNF) - 21 pts
3rd: Julie Bossard / Aude Compan (FRA) (11) 8 7 11 2 - 28 pts

6th: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) 12 11 10 2 (37 DNF) - 35 pts

Nacra 17 (32 boats)

1st: Ben Saxton / Nicola Boniface (GBR) 1 4 (6) 1 6 - 12 pts
2nd: Jason Waterhouse / Lisa Darmanin (AUS) 7 2 (33 DNF) 3 2 - 14 pts
3rd: Nathan Outteridege / Haylee Outteridge (AUS) 5 3 2 4 (19) - 14 pts

10th: Liv Mackay / Jason Saunders (NZL) (28) 20 13 11 3 - 47 pts
17th: Gemma Jones / Josh Porebski - 21 11 (26) 15 11 - 58 pts
26th: Micah Wilkinson / Erica Dawson (NZL) 26 1620 (33 UFD) 18 - 80 pts

Laser (51 boats)

1st: Pavlos Kontides (CYP) 2 (9) 1 5 2 5 5 - 20 pts
2nd: Matthew Wearn (AUS) 18 (19) 2 2 16 4 1 - 43 pts
3rd: Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) 3 12 4 (52 RET) 4 19 3 - 45 pts

10th: Tom Saunders (NZL) 26 (33) 6 14 3 22 3 - 73 pts
12th: Sam Meech (NZL) 23 (31) 10 12 28 1 6 - 80 pts
36th: George Gautrey (NZL) 45 15 22 30 21 (52 DNC) 52 DNC - 185 pts

Laser Radial (49 boats)

1st: Emma Plasschaert (BEL) 1 10 8 (15) 7 7 1 - 34 pts
2nd: Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) 13 12 1 13 2 3 (40) - 44 pts
3rd: Alison Young (GBR) (33) 22 4 12 1 2 6 - 47 pts

33rd: Olivia Christie (NZL) 26 (45) 34 40 31 27 14 - 172 pts
37th: Annabelle Rennie-Younger (NZL) (47) 44 30 32 36 28 19 - 189 pts
49th: Courtney Reynolds-Smith (NZL) 45 (48) 42 43 41 43 43 - 257 pts

Women's RS:X (24 boards)

1st: Yunxiu Lu (CHN) (6) 5 1 1 5 1 1 1 4 2 - 21 pts
2nd: Katy Spychakov (ISR) 2 8 7 3 (11) 3 2 2 3 4 - 34 pts
3rd: Zofia Noceti-Klepacka (POL) 7 3 (8) 8 7 5 5 3 2 3 - 43 pts

18th: Veerle ten Have (NZL) 22 22 (24) 13 15 17 20 15 15 20 - 159 pts

Full results here

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