They felt a bit rusty to start with but it didn't take long for Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn to find their groove and it meant the pair walked away with their third-straight 49er national title at the weekend.
Dunning Beck and Gunn hadn't sailed a competitive regatta since the winter championships, and their last "proper" regatta was the 49er world championships in Geelong, when they finished sixth.
The NZL Sailing Team members emerged from a quality fleet of nine boats over the weekend at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, finishing three points ahead of Japan's Leonard Takahashi and Ibuki Koizumi, who are based in New Zealand, with Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie a further two points back in third.
Haylee and Nathan Outteridge won the 49erFX class, finishing two points ahead of Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, with youngsters Blake McGlashan and Jack Frewin third.
"It's always cool to win," Gunn said. "This is our third time winning in a row so that's pretty special. Overseas events are cool but there's something about the nationals so it was good to finish on top.
"It was tough. We have kept ourselves fairly sharp over winter. We were just a little rusty, particularly starting, but that came back fairly quickly."
That was illustrated in their results, and they won four of the 10 races and never finished outside the top three.
The 49erFX fleet was a mixture of proven campaigners, young sailors stepping up from youth classes and even featured New Zealand's top men's 470 combination, Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox.
Only one race was possible on the third and final day in the 49erFX fleet as light and fickle winds crept across the Hauraki Gulf. Race management started a couple of races but these were abandoned as the wind died off and gave Maloney and Meech no opportunity to overtake the Outteridges, who earlier this year just missed out on Olympic selection for Australia in the Nacra 17.
The Tokyo Olympics are expected to go ahead next year but the rest of the 2021 international calendar is uncertain and it makes it difficult for sailors like Dunning Beck and Gunn to plan.
"We've put together a best-case scenario for the next six months, which would see us go to Europe in March or April, said Gunn, who has returned to university and work towards a mechanical engineering degree. "It's hard to know if it will go ahead but we're pretty certain the 49er world championships in Oman in November will go ahead so we've set our sights on that."
As well as a fourth national title, of course.
Results and standings from the 2020 49er national championships at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club:
49er (9 boats)
1st: Logan Dunning Beck / Oscar Gunn (MBSC/RAYC) 2 (3) 1 2 1 2 1 3 1 2 - 15 points
2nd: Leo Takahashi / Ibuki Koizumi (RNZYS/JPN) 3 2 (4) 1 3 1 2 1 2 3 - 18 pts
3rd: Isaac McHardie / William McKenzie (RAYC) 1 1 3 3 2 4 3 2 (9) 1 - 20 pts
49erFX (9 boats)
1st: Haylee Outteridge / Nathan Outteridge (WSC) 2 1 2 1 (3) 1 3 1 3 - 14 pts
2nd: Alex Maloney / Molly Meech (RAYC/MBSC/TYPBC) (4) 2 1 2 2 2 1 2 4 - 16 pts
3rd: Blake McGlashan / Jack Frewin (MBSC/HSC) 1 (8) 4 4 1 4 2 4 1 - 21 pts
- Pic: Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn won their third 49er national title in a row. Photo: Adam Mustill Photography.