Rio on the horizon for duo
When you grow up on a boat it's easy to dream of becoming a world-class yachtie, Molly Meech and Alex Maloney say.
The young sailors both spent their tender years afloat and were home-schooled before their families settled on New Zealand shores. They are members at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club.
Meech and Maloney met through competitive sailing and represented New Zealand in different events at the 2010 Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Turkey. They've now joined forces to make a name for themselves in the sport.
The duo is ranked No 1 in the fledgling Olympic FX class and they cemented that status by winning gold at the world championships in France on September 30.
Meech, 20, was a baby when her family took up residence on a yacht. She started sailing competitively at the age of 10.
"I grew up on the water, cruising around the world," she says.
"I started sailing a long, long time ago."
The young women are currently training with Dutch and Swedish crews who have travelled to New Zealand for the summer. They are making the most of the challenge before the European crews head home in the new year.
"It's really neat for us to have so many big boats to put ourselves up against. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. They really push us," Meech says.
It is early days for the women's skiff class but the pair is already gearing up for the 2016 Olympic Games where the FX will make its debut.
Maloney says competing at the Olympics would be a dream come true.
The 21-year-old lived on a yacht with her family for three years as a child.
Their coach Nathan Handley also mentors Olympic 470 champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie.
"Rio is definitely the goal and it's a big one. There are still quite a few qualifying hurdles for us to get through. It's still a few more years. If you put the hard work in you can go so far."
The teammates are currently looking for sponsorship to help them on the way to the 2016 Olympic Games.
Go to facebook.com and search ‘Molly & Alex Sailing' to follow their progress.
East And Bays Courier