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NZ Olympic greats sail Auckland harbour

Sunday 3 Feb 2013 8:07 p.m.

New Zealand’s Olympic sailing greats took to Auckland harbour this weekend to shake off some rust.

But it was a new pair who was attracting attention.

Kiwi sailing's latest Olympic hopefuls showed off the 49er FX class, a new addition for women at the Rio Olympics.

Teenagers Alex Maloney and Molly Meech are currently ranked first in the world, on track to add to New Zealand’s 49er dominance, thanks to some help from their male counterparts.

“They've been great role models and so helpful,” says Maloney. “They're just willing to share all their knowledge with us, which is really cool for us. It's a really good position to be in.”

Olympic silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are happy to help out to a certain extent.

“It's definitely close enough between us that we can train together and stuff like that, and a couple of the girls are fully campaigning, which is just awesome,” says Tuke. “Just hope they don't start going too fast and beating us any time soon.”

And Olympic 470 gold medallists Jo Alleh and Polly Powrie are looking forward to a larger female contingent in Rio.

“There's never really been many of us,” says Alleh. “These last Olympics at least there's a few of us, sailing with someone else makes it. At least there's someone else there. But it's really good. It's good to get more girls into it and hopefully it just grows girls sailing.”

A small field forced the pair to race against with the boys this weekend.

“It's just great racing against them because they really hate being beaten by us,” says Alleh. “I think they've started ganging up on us a bit now because we've started beating them too much now.”

The men might need to try some new tactics, as the women picked up three wins in five races.

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