Black flags dropped, sailors were caught offside with the orange markers and one combination arrived a day and a race late only to find they couldn't get on the water anyway.

But in all that excitement, day one race leaders, skipper Ashley Smith and crewman Adam Kingston, on Sake, didn't lose their grip on the overall lead at the end of the second day of the Flying Fifteen Nationals in Napier yesterday.

The Australian pair, who are Hong Kong champions, looked ominous and should engrave their names on the silverware when the Napier Sailing Club-hosted regatta ends today at the Ahuriri waterfront.

They have a net 11 points, after discarding their worst result (10th in race five), with Aussie pair Matthew Owen and Andrew Reed, on Deffcon 1, also staying put in second place, five points adrift of the leaders.

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However, the drama unfolded with the third placegetters on day one, British pair Geoffrey Bayliss and Tom Bayliss, on 7th Heaven, plummeting to 11th position overall after a black-flag disqualification.

The best Kiwi combination yesterday again were skipper Aaron Goodmanson and crewman Alister Rowlands, of Charteris Bay (Lyttelton Harbour), on Ffortune.

The Cantabrians moved from sixth overall to fourth (22 net points), behind the Welsh-born husband-and-wife team of Nick and Janet Jerwood, who now live in Australia, and are on 18 points on Ineffable.

"We just got on the right side of the ports, really," said Goodmanson when asked what went right on a vessel which cost them a "Ffortune".

"It's pretty shifty out there but we managed to get off the start line well and got into some good positions," said the 41-year-old sales representative who shares a mind-boggling 10 national crowns in the Flying Fifteen with Rowlands, a boat shop employee.

They were third in race 4 and fourth in race 5 yesterday but the race 4 honours went to Charles Apthorp and Alan Green (on Foof) and the race 5 winners were another British combination of Greg Wells and Richard Rigg (Agatha), who sit sixth and seventh overall, respectively.

Goodmanson and Rowlands have competed at six Flying Fifteen World Championships but have yet to clinch the bragging rights although they have been sailing together since 2001.

They have been third twice, competed in 2005 in Auckland and 2007 in Majorca, and were fourth in Melbourne in 2009 in their last outing.

"We've been knocking on the door but haven't quite got the favourable conditions that we like," Goodmanson said as the nationals end today after two more races.

The nationals are an ideal dress rehearsal for the Lexus of Hawke's Bay 21st Flying Fifteen World Championship here from Sunday to Friday, March 3, with most sailors making the transition.

"We like a lot of breeze but whether we'll get a full week of it," he said, adding they prefer 15-20 knots but so far Ahuriri waterfront has served up closer to 10-15 knots.

However, it wasn't lost on a chuckling Goodmanson that sailors had to be adept in all the variables if they wanted to be the best in the world.

"You look at all the world champions and they're always consistent, so you've got to be in the top 10 in every race but it can easily go pear shaped."

Goodmanson said there was significantly less swell and chop yesterday compared with day one but the defining moments yesterday were two decent starts as opposed to as many average ones on Wednesday.

Luck plays a part, he said, reflecting on how they had drifted into the doldrums on the left side of the course.

"We were looking pretty good halfway up the first speed, and then the wind went left and we weren't there, so you can't do anything about it."

Playing a game of patience and hanging tough are on the agenda, as 55 yachts jostle for line honours.

"Once you get back in the pack, it becomes a little harder sailing, really."

Goodmanson said in the past five years, sailing went on the backburner because they both had young families.

"We're in a different stage of life and sailing isn't a priority but having a chance to do the worlds in New Zealand is hard to turn down, I suppose, and to catch up with some really good friends from overseas" he said, saluting Napier club, regatta convenor Graeme Robinson and club commodore, Paul Redman, for flying the different national flags for a fantastic event.

Napier holds good memories for the pair, who clinched their first Flying Fifteen national crown, which doubled as a national trial for the world championship in Durban, South Africa.

Goodmanson said with so many ex-world champions in the fleet, including the Jerwoods and the current leaders, next week would be exciting.

Asked why their vessel is called Ffortune, a laughing Goodmanson replied: "Just the cost of it, a fortune." Robinson said last night among the black-flagged bunch were last-placed pair of Julian Bishop and Jonno Wilson, of Wellington, on Foreign Affair.

They missed day one through other commitments but arrived late yesterday to miss race four and on race five copped a black flag.

Fingers crossed today for them.