Tauranga's two national windsurfing champions are likely to find things very different when they compete in Italy later this year.

Mount Maunganui College student Veerle ten Have (14) and Max van der Zalm (15) of Aquinas College are the national under 17 female and male champions in the Techno 293 class. They will represent New Zealand at the Techno 293 world championships in Italy in October.

Where races in New Zealand seldom feature more than 10 windsurfers, Max and Veerle are likely to find themselves in the midst of as many as 60 others in the waters off Cagliari.

"If you leave half a metre of water, it's going to be taken," says Max.

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As well as national titles, Max and Veerle hold the boys' and girls' Kendal Cups, won over a series of regattas held during the summer.

For Veerle, the win came at her first attempt as she only started windsurfing at the end of last year.

"The first regatta,I didn't finish the race, but I just did my best. Then each regatta and I got better and better and ended up doing all the races."

Two years earlier she had gone to a windsurfing taster clinic and, while she enjoyed it, she didn't take it further as she preferred horse riding.

Max was also at the clinic, after first sailing in the Laser 2 and 420 classes. After a winter of mixing sailing and windsurfing, he decided to concentrate on windsurfing.

"At firstI started [sailing] in a borrowed sail boat in the estuary.I did it for a year, team racing against other students and a regional regatta at the club in Laser 2 and 420 classes."

During the following winter he dabbled in both sailing and windsurfing before focussing totally on windsurfing as the summer arrived.

"Sailing was getting a bit expensive and dad was windsurfing as well." Having friends who were already windsurfing helped Veerle pick things up quickly. "I could see what they did, things to learn from, and I just picked it up.

"It's a great feeling to be on the water, feeling the wind on your face - it's really freeing," she says.

The world championships take place in Sardinia. The videos they have watched suggest conditions will be quite choppy and quite windy, which Max says is likely to suit the New Zealanders.

Max and Veerle are coached by Herve Pruvost and will have a week's coaching in Europe before the world championships.

Max also visited New Caledonia at the end of last year for their national championships, finishing sixth overall and third in his class.

"With warm water and perfect winds, it was a huge learning experience," he says.

Both youngsters are busy fundraising to help pay for their trip via give a little pages and Veerle has already squirrelled away some savings by working to help pay for the trip.