Sir Russell Coutts' new goal of lifting the standards of New Zealand junior yachting has made a world-beating start. And it comes with a family twist.

Coutts' 11-year-old son Mattias emerged victorious in the O'Pen Bic class for junior sailors at their world championship regatta at Lake Garda, Italy.

Coutts junior won the under-13 title while fellow-Aucklander Sean Herbert won the under-17 crown.

Coutts had to fight hard to protect a narrow lead in a 55-boat fleet, going on to win by four points in his first championship event. He competed under the watchful eye of his father and coach.

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Sailing great Russell Coutts, 55, recently committed to helping shape pathways for Kiwi youngsters, pushing the relatively new O'Pen Bic class as an ideal stepping stone.

A former Olympic Finn champion and two-time America's Cup winner with Team NZ, the latter part of Coutts' career was devoted to helping other America's Cup syndicates.

In 2003 he won the Cup with Swiss outfit Alinghi, before becoming chief executive of champion Oracle Team USA in 2010 and 2013.

At this year's regatta in Bermuda he was chief executive of the America's Cup Event Authority.

Coutts recently became commodore at the small Manly Sailing Club on Auckland's North Shore, with an intention to focus on youth development.

- AAP