Josh Porebski and Trent Rippey are aiming to recapture some of the form they showed at the start of last year when they hit the 49er racing circuit again.
The pair started 2018 by winning the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta and followed it up with fourth at the Princess Sofia regatta in Palma and third at the Hyeres World Cup. Top-10 results were harder to come by in the second half of the year but Porebski is optimistic about 2019, especially with the 49er, FX and Nacra 17 world championships on home waters at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in December.
"This year is super-important," he said. "It’s when all the major events and [Olympic] selections happen. We really want to be firing by the end of the year at the world champs at Akarana. That’s the main focus again."
Porebski and Rippey have been training at Akarana over the past couple of months alongside some of the world's best 49er sailors. New Zealand's Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn and Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie have provided good competition and they were joined by Germans Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme and Japanese combination Leonard Takahashi and Ibuki Koizumi as well as a pair by the name of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.
"It’s been really good," Porebski said. "It’s always good having heaps of good boats around. It's definitely the strongest group of teams we’ve had in New Zealand. Everyone learns off each other and keeps the intensity high."
All of them except the German crew are expected to compete at next month's Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta where they will be joined by a handful of internationals, including at least three crews from Australia, as well as a bevvy of up-and-coming local crews.
"[The Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta] is super-important for us to get a good gauge on where we are at and what we need to work on," Porebski said. "There will be quite a few boats with the younger teams there so starting will be important. It’s a really nice time to be sailing at home, so it’s great.
"It’s been good to be back at Akarana. We used to sail there a few years ago so it’s a good change. The wind is always challenging, which makes you a better sailor."
As many as 200 sailors are expected to compete at the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta. Along with the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17, there will also be racing in the Laser, Laser Radial, Finn, RS:X 9.5, 470, 29er, 420, Nacra 15 and RS:X 8.5. Courses will be set in the vicinity of Bean Rock, with Browns Island and Rangitoto providing natural outer barriers.
The event will also double as a selection event for the NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team to compete at the 2019 Youth Sailing World Championships in Poland.
Entries are open for the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta and entries received after midnight on January 21 will incur a late fee of $150.