Star Ki­wis leave ma­jor void to fill

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - By Michael Brown

This year’s 49er world cham­pi­onships will be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent to those of the re­cent past, not least be­cause Peter Burl­ing and Blair Tuke won’t win.

Burl­ing and Tuke have dom­i­nated the 49er class, win­ning four-straight world ti­tles and last year’s Rio Olympics. In fact, they won ev­ery ma­jor re­gatta af­ter the 2012 Lon­don Olympics and won gold in Rio by a whop­ping 43 points.

The pair won’t be in Porto for the up­com­ing 49er and 49erFX world cham­pi­onships, hav­ing re­cently helped Emi­rates Team New Zealand claim the Amer­ica’s Cup. They are now in prepa­ra­tion for the up­com­ing Volvo Ocean Race.

Their ab­sence will feel strange for many, in­clud­ing 49erFX Olympic silver medal­lists Alex Maloney and Molly Meech who have been to eight world cham­pi­onships with Burl­ing and Tuke.

“We will miss them,” Maloney said. “They have been re­ally good role mod­els for us and have al­ways been there if ever we have any ques­tions. It will be strange not hav­ing them there but they have left us with some good knowl­edge.”

Maloney and Meech have good pedi­gree of their own. On top of their Olympic silver medal, they won the 2013 world cham­pi­onships and have medalled in World Cups and Euro­pean cham­pi­onships. Now they are try­ing to achieve greater con­sis­tency.

They have per­formed well this year, fin­ish­ing sec­ond at Kiel Week and, but for a mis­take, would have been in the medals at the World Cup re­gatta in San­tander in their first ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion since Rio.

“We are feel­ing good in the boat and know we can per­form well at the world cham­pi­onships,” Maloney said. “We’re ex­cited to go over there and lay down a good per­for­mance.”

A lot of that will hinge on their starts. The pair iden­ti­fied that as one of the main ar­eas need­ing work af­ter an in-depth de­brief fol­low­ing their Rio Olympics cam­paign.

“It’s about be­ing re­ally as­sertive on the start line and try­ing to nail that as­pect so we’re not play­ing catch-up through the fleet,” Maloney said.

It’s some­thing they’ve spent a lot of time work­ing on with new coach Nathan Han­d­ley.

Maloney and Meech have been in Porto for nearly three weeks with the rest of the New Zealand team pre­par­ing for the world cham­pi­onships.

They will be joined in the 49erFX by Erica Daw­son and Kate Ste­wart, a young crew who were 15th at the re­cent 49er Euro­pean cham­pi­onships.

Josh Poreb­ski and Trent Rippey have been in good form this year and will line up in the 49er fleet with fel­low Ki­wis Isaac McHardie and Wil­liam McKen­zie.

Getty Im­ages

Chris Wood is set to make his Premier League de­but for Burn­ley against Tot­ten­ham at Wem­b­ley tonight.

World Sail­ing

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech are ex­cited about rac­ing in Porto.

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