It was a case of the master against the apprentice in the final of the Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championship and the young upstart took the title in brutally light conditions.
Nick Egnot-Johnson and his Knots Racing team of Sam Barnett, Zak Merton and Bradley McLaughlin won the final 2-0 against coach Reuben Corbett.
The final day of the four-day regatta hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron was sailed in treacherously light and patchy winds, making it a lottery at times, but Knots Racing had established themselves as the top team, dropping only one race throughout the event.
“It feels amazing to win our first national title," Egnot-Johnson said. "We’ve had this on our list for a long time and to finally tick it off is just brilliant.
"It was so stressful out there today. The wind kept changing around and it took a lot of effort to win. Reuben sailed really well in those conditions and we had to give it everything we had to win, especially in that final match.
"I’m just really happy for the team and can’t talk them up enough. We finished the regatta with a 19 win, one loss scorecard, which is a record for us. Just a fantastic event and we can’t wait to come back and defend our title next year.”
Knots Racing went into the regatta as favourites, with Egnot-Johnson presently ranked third in the world match racing rankings, but Corbett was expected to push them. Corbett spent time on the international match racing circuit, rising to ninth on the world rankings.
The pair emerged from qualifying as the top two but had contrasting fortunes in their semifinals. Egnot-Johnson dispatched Tom Picot from New Caledonia 2-0 but Corbett needed a deciding match against Jordan Stevenson to advance to the final.
Racing was then delayed for two hours as Harold Bennett and his race management team waited for the breeze to fill in enough to allow racing.
Egnot-Johnson started the first match well, winning the duel throughout the race to hold onto his lead and move one step closer to lifting the trophy.
The second match was a lot tougher. The wind was incredibly light by this stage and Knots Racing couldn't enter the start box on time, incurring a penalty and handing Corbett a handy advantage.
Egnot-Johnson looked down and out when he was parked up heading into the bottom mark with Corbett kite-up sailing past. However, Egnot-Johnson found a nice pocket of breeze to get back into the race, catching up to Corbett and then offsetting his penalty before edging over the line first.
The event dished up everything from light breezes to strong winds, which tested all of the teams.
Knots Racing will look to continue their run of good results at next month's China Cup when a handful of teams from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will also compete.
Final standings from the Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championship at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron:
1st: Nick Egnot-Johnson
2nd: Reuben Corbett
3rd: Jordan Stevenson
4th: Tom Picot
5th: Alastair Gifford
6th: Celia Willison
7th: Brian Trubovich
8th: James Wilson
9th: Niall Malone
10th: Hamish McLaren
11th: Megan Thomson
12th: Robbie McCutcheon
13th: Albert Stanley
Full Results HERE
- Photo and additional reporting Andrew Delves / RNZYS