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NZ sailors have medals on the menu

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are fourth in the 49er halfway through qualifying. Photo: Sailing Energy / World Sailing.

Sailors often talk about light-wind days as a game of snakes and ladders and a couple of New Zealand crews hooked onto ladders at the Tokyo Olympics yesterday.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke excelled in the treacherous conditions, banking three low scores to climb to second overall but level on points at the top with Great Britain's Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell with three more qualifying races today.

Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox danced with danger in the men's 470 but emerged in third overall with two more days of qualifying. And Sam Meech punched out a third in his last race in the Laser and will go into Sunday's medal race in eighth and with a mathematical chance of clinching what seemed an unlikely medal even yesterday.

The news wasn't quite so good for Alex Maloney and Molly Meech in the 49erFX and their 19th in their third race dropped them to 11th overall with three more qualifying races.

It feels like there are still a few more twists and turns in this Olympic regatta, especially with light winds forecast over the next few days, so it's still all to play for.

Burling and Tuke put on a masterclass in winds that rarely exceeded seven knots, recording scores of third, sixth and second on a day when many of their rivals struggled.

"It was definitely a very different day to what we have had so far at this regatta," says Burling. "The breeze was wobbling enough to keep things interesting so we're just really happy to walk away with three low scores.

"The boat felt good out there and we were able to play a pretty low-risk game because of that. It’s pretty easy to walk away with a [score of] 20 in those kind of conditions so we have got ourselves right in the hunt for tomorrow."

Only five points separate the top four crews, and results today will go a long way to deciding the medals.

"There are still plenty of points to play for and we will just have to do exactly what we did today and post three low ones and try to be in as best shape as possible heading into the final race. There’s nowhere else we would rather be. It’s a heck of a battle and we’re loving it."

Snow-Hansen and Willcox wouldn't mind an easier race than the six they have sailed so far. They've scrapped throughout and even yesterday had to fight back from 12th to seventh when slapped with a two-turn penalty for pumping downwind when it wasn't allowed.

Australia's Matt Belcher and Will Ryan have sailed imperiously throughout and hold a handy 11-point lead but only nine points separate second from sixth.

"It felt like we had the boxing mitts out today," says Snow-Hansen. "Nothing came easily. At times it felt like you were getting ahead but the fleet was tight. I think just being in touch with the medals is where you want to be with a bit of time left.

"With the tight racing, you can’t help but think there were some more opportunities to get ahead but on the other side it could have very easily been a different situation and we could have been out of touch, so we have to be satisfied."

It was the overwhelming emotion for Meech after yesterday's racing in the Laser as he jumped six places to eighth and confirmed his place in the top-10, double-points medal race.

He hasn't felt like he's been in his groove at all and has been battling a niggling knee injury but sailed impressively in a dying breeze to finish 11th and third in his two races yesterday.

"At this point I'm just happy I've made it [to the medal race] but obviously not super-happy with how the week has gone," says Meech. "I would say I'll have to win the medal race and the guys in front of me come last. It will be a really tough ask but I'm stoked I have a shot, especially considering how this week has gone."

Maloney and Meech will need to record three low scores today to get themselves back into contention in the 49erFX. They scrapped well in their first two races yesterday, finishing eighth and third, but struggled in the last as the wind died and finished 19th.

The top four have jumped out to a decent lead but a number of teams recorded big scores today so it's likely there will still be a lot of movement on the leaderboard.

Josh Junior returns to action in the Finn today in seventh overall and Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson will also compete again after a day off in the Nacra 17 and will start in 12th overall.

Results and standings after day six of the Olympic sailing regatta in Enoshima:

49er (19 boats)

1st: Dylan Fletcher-Scott / Stuart Bithell (GBR) 2 8 4 1 12 2 (16) 3 - 34 points
2nd: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) (12) 3 7 2 10 1 3 6 2 - 34 pts
3rd: Diego Botin / Iago Lopez Marra (ESP) 5 1 2 5 4 10 (15) 2 6 - 35 pts

49erFX (21 boats)

1st: Annemiek Bekkering / Annette Duetz (NED) (13) 8 2 1 6 1 12 5 6 - 41 pts
2nd: Tamara Echegoyen / Paula Martin (ESP) 2 10 (22 UFD) 2 3 3 13 4 5 - 42 pts
3rd: Martine Grael / Kahena Kunze (BRA) (15) 5 1 10 7 6 1 6 11 - 47 pts

11th: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (NZL) 16 (22 UFD) 5 12 4 4 8 3 19 - 71 pts

Finn (19 boats)

1st: Giles Scott (GBR) (9) 9 1 1 1 1 - 13 pts
2nd: Joan Cardona (ESP) 3 3 (5) 3 2 3 - 14 pts
3rd: Zsombor Berecz (HUN) 2 2 (9) 4 6 7 - 21 pts

7th: Josh Junior (NZL) (12) 10 3 7 8 5 - 33 pts

Laser (35 boats)

1st: Matt Wearn (AUS) 17 (28) 2 4 2 2 1 1 12 8 - 49 pts
2nd: Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) 3 18 15 2 6 8 10 5 (19) 4 - 71 pts
3rd: Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) 15 6 3 (22) 13 4 5 11 7 10 - 74 pts

8th: Sam Meech (NZL) (19) 19 8 16 14 3 2 13 11 3 - 89 pts

Laser Radial (44 boats)

1st: Anne-Marie Rindom (BEL) 6 5 3 13 4 4 2 1 26 (45 DNF) - 64 pts
2nd: Marit Bouwmeester (NED) 21 14 7 2 3 9 (45 BFD) 7 1 7 - 71 pts
3rd: Josefin Olsson (SWE) (34) 15 8 4 1 6 4 9 22 10 - 79 pts

Men's 470 (19 boats)

1st: Matt Belcher / Will Ryan (AUS) 2 (5) 1 1 4 3 - 11 pts
2nd: Luke Patience / Chris Grube (GBR) 3 8 2 4 (10) 5 - 22 pts
3rd: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) 6 2 (7) 7 5 7 - 27 pts

Women's 470 (21 boats)

1st: Agnieszka Skrzypulec / Jolanta Ogar (POL) 1 1 2 5 (13) 1 - 10 pts
2nd: Hannah Mills / Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) 4 3 (7) 1 3 3 - 14 pts
3rd: Camille Lecointre / Aloise Retornaz (FRA) 3 2 4 7 1 (12) - 17 pts

Nacra 17 (20 boats)

1st: Ruggero Tita / Caterina Banti (ITA) 1 3 1 2 (5) 1 - 8 pts
2nd: John Gimson / Anna Burnet (GBR) (7( 5 2 1 1 2 - 11 pts
3rd: Paul Kohlhoff / Alicia Stuhlemmer (GER) 5 1 7 3 3 (11) - 19 pts

12th: Micah Wilkinson / Erica Dawson (NZL) 11 12 (13) 11 8 12 - 54 pts

Women's RS:X (27 boards)

1st: Lu Yunxiu (CHN) 2 9 (25) 2 2 1 4 2 1 2 3 2 - 30 pts
2nd: Emma Wilson (GBR) 5 2 6 1 4 2 1 1 (28 UFD) 6 1 5 - 34 pts
3rd: Charline Picon (FRA) 1 6 2 (9) 1 4 2 3 6 3 2 6 - 36 pts

Men's RS:X (25 boards)

1st: Kiran Badloe (NED) 5 7 1 1 (26 DSQ) 5 2 4 1 5 1 1 - 33 pts
2nd: Thomas Goyard (FRA) (13) 5 3 13 1 1 3 6 7 1 9 3 - 52 pts
3rd: Matia Camboni (ITA) 4 2 4 8 2 2 8 (13) 4 8 3 9 - 54 pts

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