Sam Meech emerged from a star-studded field to lead the standings after the first event in the New Zealand Moth class winter sprints at the Manly Sailing Club last weekend.
The Olympic bronze medallist fended off a charge from Australia's Nathan Outteridge on day one of the competition and then banked another three top-two results on the second day to finish four points ahead of Stu Goodes. Outteridge didn't compete on day two.
The 17-strong fleet also contained the likes of Alex Koukourakis (third), Brad Marsh (fourth) Nick Egnot-Johnson (fifth) and George Gautrey (11th but didn't compete on day 2).
The Moth class has been growing its fleet in recent times and 21 competed at March's national championships, which was one of the last regattas before the country went into lockdown.
There were some good tussles throughout the fleet but, as with many Moth regattas, there were a few non-starters for some races due to equipment issues.
The Moth class is an open development class and, much like a skiff, a sailor's trailer is often full of all sorts of equipment from masts and sails to foils that each have a very narrow band of optimum conditions.
Goodes was thankful for that after a spectacular crash on day one when he accelerated in a gust approaching the bottom mark and had no option but to plow straight into it. Goodes was catapulted from his boat as it went from an estimated 25 knots to 0 knots in less than one second.
Meech sparred with Outteridge for honours on the opening day, winning three of the four races sailed in 6-16 knots but bitterly cold conditions to finish one point ahead of the Australian.
The new Bieker Moths built in New Zealand again showed their impressive speed upwind but Outteridge proved that a Mach 2 can still be very competitive.
Day two offered similar conditions to the first day with many changing configurations and gear based on what they had learned.
Meech and Goodes won all three races between them to finish well ahead of the rest of the fleet.
It was generally felt many sailors had progressed well since the national championships, including Tom Barker who had an exceptional second day of racing in his heavily-modified home built Moth.
“It was great to put all the practice I have been doing to the test in the intensity of a regatta," said Sam Barnett, who finished eighth overall. "It’s been a while since the nationals and it was great to be racing hard again.”
The second round of the series is likely to be on August 22-23 with the third regatta at the Sandspit Yacht Club in Algies Bay on September 19-20.
Results and standings from the New Zealand Moth Class winter sprints at the Manly Sailing Club last weekend.
1st: Sam Meech (Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club) 3 1 1 1 2 1 2 - 11 points
2nd: Stu Goodes (Torbay Sailing Club) 2 3 3 3 1 2 1 - 15 pts
3rd: Alex Koukourakis (Bay of Islands Yacht Club) 4 7 4 4 4 3 5 - 31 pts
- Photo: Sam Meech won four of the seven races to finish on top. Photo: Adam Mustill Photography.