Manawatu Standard

Experience, expectatio­n on the water

- Duncan Johnstone

New Zealand’s sailors are banking on experience to continue their proud Olympic history in unpreceden­ted circumstan­ces at the Tokyo Games.

The sailing squad goes into these Olympics with plenty of pressure on them after a record-equalling four medals at Rio 2016.

Three of those crews are back – gold medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the men’s 49er, silver medallists Molly Meech and Alex Maloney in the women’s 49erfx, and bronze medallist Sam Meech in the men’s Laser.

Josh Junior made the top 10 at Rio and has won a world championsh­ip in the Finn class dinghy since then. Dan Willcox and Paul Snow-hansen also made the top 10 at Rio in the men’s 470 and are fresh off a European title. Only

Erica Dawson and Micah Wilkinson are Games rookies in the lively foiling Nacra 17 catamaran.

‘‘I think you’d ask any of our sailors, and they’d say they are going there to medal,’’ Yachting New Zealand highperfor­mance director Ian Stewart told Stuff.

‘‘We don’t really look so much at expectatio­ns ... it’s the old cliche of having our processes and preparatio­ns right and do whatever you can to be prepared for the moment.’’

Stewart feels his super talented squad has achieved that despite limited internatio­nal action over the past 18 months because of the global pandemic. Normally globetrott­ers, they’ve largely been stuck on home waters.

That’s why he’s banking on experience to come through when it matters at Enoshima where Meech starts the Kiwi campaign on Sunday.

‘‘It’s really nice to have an experience­d group, particular­ly given that this has been a unique preparatio­n and there has been a lot of uncertaint­ies as to how we go about our business and how it looks on the ground,’’ Stewart said.

‘‘Who knows how things play out, what the weather gods give . . . but experience isn’t a bad thing, is it?

Opening ceremony:

 ??  ?? Alex Maloney and Molly Meech took their training to extremes on their 49erfx.
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech took their training to extremes on their 49erfx.

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