Tauranga teenager Peter Burling has stunned the yachting world by winning the Open 420 world championship in Spain _ beating former Olympians in the process.
Burling and Auckland crewmate Carl Evans wrapped up the world title by winning today's penultimate race by more than a minute, extending their lead over second-placed crew, Kiwi team-mates Simon Cooke and Scott Illingworth.
Burling and Evans _ both just 15 _ teamed up 10 months ago and blitzed the 44-strong gold fleet to give New Zealand its first world 420 title.
The best New Zealand had done previously was Hamish Wilcox and Chris Dickson's third in 1979. Wilcox was among the first to congratulate the young Kiwi duo this morning.
The 420 is a two-person trapeze and spinnaker racing dinghy and a youth development boat in 43 countries around the world. It is sailed at school, club, open, national and international levels and is a precursor to the Olympic 470 class.
Of the 11 races Burling and Evans sailed in the Canary Islands, they notched seven firsts, two thirds and a 17th and 18th, which were their two discards.
Burling's father Richard said today from the Canary Islands the young Tauranga Boys' College student was quietly thrilled with his world title.
"There was no outpouring of emotion or big high-fives out on the water, although once they got the boat in you could tell they were pretty excited. They never said a hell of a lot all week but Peter's demeanour has staggered me.
"He usually gets a bit tense and goes into his shell in situations like this but he's been unbelievably relaxed and so calm, probably because he knew they had the boat speed and could beat their opposition."
That opposition included several former Olympians and world 470 champions, with their coach Simon Cooke _ a former world champion and Olympian _ and Illingworth shunted back into second today when Burling and Evans won the regatta's 11th race.
They sat out the final race, having already wrapped up the world title.
"Clearly this regatta hasn't gone exactly as I would have liked for Scott and I," Cooke said today, "and we haven't read the winds as well as Carl and Peter on the beats.
"There is no disputing Carl and Peter would still have beaten us ... they have sailed near perfectly and have more speed than many of the coaches have ever seen in the 420 fleet before."
Burling's performance continues the pair's stunning year.
They convincingly won the New Zealand 420 championship in Lyttelton in April, with Evans winning the Tanner and Tauranga Cups in a P class dinghy in New Plymouth in January while Burling won the Starling Dinghy championship for the second year in a row.
Richard Burling said the pair led today's penultimate race from the start and, like previous days, pulled away.
"I was probably more anxious than Peter and Carl at the start of the day _ I didn't get much sleep last night thinking what could go wrong.
"With the speed and absolute dominance they'd shown we knew they could do it on the water but the conditions here have been testing to say the least and gear breakage is always a factor.
"Today they sailed in 22-27 knot winds and three metre swells, absolutely loving it, but the hull of their boat, which was new at the start of the regatta, has got serious cracking in it.
"The Italian coach commented to me that watching our boys rounding the top mark in 25 knots, he couldn't believe their boat skills. They rolled their boat slightly, got their spinnaker up perfectly and in that one manoeuvre put four boat lengths on the entire fleet _ unbelievable given their age.
"He also said that his kids would never sail in winds that strong, which our kids do regularly."
Burling's yachting CV is stunning. The only regatta in New Zealand he hasn't won in the past 12 months in both the Starling and 420 class is the Youthsail regatta, when he and Evans were pipped by Tauranga's Bruce Kennedy and Jason Saunders.
Saunders and Kennedy finished 21st in the Canary Islands, winning today's final race. All three locals were backed by the Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club and the Bay of Plenty Sailing Academy trust.
Every weekend this year, Burling and Evans would alternate missing Friday afternoon class at school to train together in Auckland or Tauranga. They'd often pair up with Kennedy and Saunders, racing in Tauranga Harbour's entrance to prepare for the big swells expected in the Canary Islands.
Burling and Evans were busy today preparing to travel to Portugal, where they will race in the junior European championships before arriving home on August 22.