End is Near for Kiwi Training Partners

Published on April 28th, 2016

With Olympic selection looming, how do you separate sailors that have trained together for years, are friends, have sisters that sail together and even have the same poker face when faced with questions about their chances? Well that is what Yachting New Zealand have to do in the Men’s Laser.

The two card players in this game, Andy Maloney and Sam Meech. While Andy’s sister Alexandra and Sam’s sister Molly, ranked third in the world in the Women’s 49erFX, will sail together at the Olympic Games, only one of the brothers will join them once their shootout is over.

From their sisters to their own friendship, Maloney and Meech have known each other for over eight years and been training together for around six, both making similar gains and posting similar results.

Although New Zealand’s selection process for the pair isn’t widely known, the fact that they are still fighting for bid would suggest they are too close to call, which isn’t really a surprise when you talk to the both of them.

Rigging up for the latest hand in the tense game, Maloney tells us his thoughts on the two players involved, “It’s pretty even between me and Sam. We are both sailing really well at the moment and the main focus is get on top of the fleet here [in Hyères] and hopefully that will be enough to impress the selectors.”

Echoing Maloney’s view on the Sailing World Cup Hyères, Meech said, “This is an important one for us coming at a time where they (Yachting NZ) will be choosing. We both have a really good chance and whoever sails well could go, but we are at a similar level so it will be very tricky for the selectors.”

It will indeed be tricky for the selectors, especially with the two so close, as Maloney explains, “We still do de-briefs together and bounce ideas off each other. One person will do better in one condition, the other person in another condition, and we can learn off each other from those situations, but naturally, you do keep some little things to yourself.”

Those little things could be the difference between winning and all-in hand, or going bust and leaving empty handed.

Despite only one of the sailors joining the New Zealand team in Rio, the pair know they wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for the other, “Me and Andy have known each other for like eight years now, so it will be hard when someone will miss out. But, we have trained really well together and both learned a lot in the past few years from one another,” said a calm and focussed Meech.

Quite simply Maloney knows that Hyères could be the moment someone gets that winning hand and takes home the spoils, “We have helped each other improve heaps, but right now, its crunch time!”

UPDATE: Halfway through Sailing World Cup Hyères, Sam Meech is in ninth and Andy Maloney is in eleventh, but only three points separate them. Racing concludes on May 1.

Report by Richard Aspland, World Sailing.

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