Andrew Murdoch is switching from the Laser to the Finn class and next month's Oceanbridge Sail Auckland event will be his first regatta in the heavyweight single-handed Olympic boat.
Murdoch will line up against the likes of 23-year-old Josh Junior and two-time OK Dinghy World Champion Karl Purdie, Junior's training partner in Wellington. All are relative newcomers to the Finn class.
"I have no idea how it's going to go," said Murdoch. "I'm really looking forward to lining up against the guys and hopefully some of my skills will transfer across to the Finn.
Dan Slater, New Zealand's Olympic Finn representative from Beijing and London, is retiring after competing for eight years in the class, making room for the fresh faces.
Both Murdoch and Junior were among the extremely competitive Laser sailing squad during the last Olympic cycle.
John Cutler, Olympic bronze medallist in the Finn at the Seoul Olympic Games, has been enlisted to coach the Finn sailors. "To have such an accomplished sailor involved in my programme who has previously medalled in the Finn is invaluable," said Murdoch.
Having represented New Zealand in the Laser class at the last two Olympics - he placed fifth in both Beijing and London - Murdoch said the change would take some work.
"The boat really interests me and is great to sail," he said. "There are some things similar to a Laser but a lot of new things to learn which excites me.
"The Finn is a very physically demanding boat so the weight needs to go on in muscle. The weights room in the gym is now my second home."
After six years in the Laser, Junior made the move to the Finn last year, making an impressive debut in the class at 2012 Sail for Gold Regatta, where he placed 19th overall.
"I decided to switch to the Finn almost a year ago. I was out growing the Laser and really liked the challenge of switching over to the Finn," Junior said. "I struggled a little in the stronger breezes at 2012 Sail for Gold, but still managed to have some fantastic races."
Junior predicts some close racing at next month's 2013 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland event from February 2-5. "Karl and I have been training a lot together down here in Wellington and he is going really quick. Andrew is very experienced so no doubt he will be near the sharp end of the fleet also."