For Hawke's Bay sailor David Tucker the contrast between his day job and his favourite sport couldn't be any bigger.

When Napier Sailing Club's Tucker, 33, is working he is a chemical engineer on the biggest ship in the world - Shell's 488m-long floating LNG vessel Prelude. On Saturday he won the three-day, 15-boat Europe class nationals off Napier in a boat which he purchased six months ago and one with a hull which weighs just 45kg.

"It was my first nationals in this class and my first regatta in three years. In fact I haven't raced here for 12 years but I've always retained my membership of the Napier Sailing Club," father-of-two Tucker said.

"Basically I bought the boat to have a bit of fun with. I was just lucky I was between posts when these nationals were on as I return to work on Tuesday. I fly out for three weeks to work off Broome in Western Australia and then return here for three weeks. Consistency was the key to my success and I'm lucky I've got a good boat with lots of boat speed. I also know these waters like the back of my hand," Tucker said pointing out to Hawke Bay.


"In saying that I was impressed with the Napier juniors who were in my class. They were very well tuned and good with their starts."

Tucker took up sailing after attending an optimists have-a-go day as a 10-year-old on Pandora Pond. In 2006 he won the starling class match racing nationals off Wellington and in 2010 won the Australia Flying Fifteen nationals in Brisbane with Napier clubmate Matthew Summers.

In 2015 Tucker and Summers won the Western Australia Flying Fifteen State Championship. Next year Tucker hopes to tackle the moth class world championships off Perth.

And will he back in New Zealand next year in an attempt to retain his national Europe class title which he expects will be contested off Dunedin or Nelson.

"Hopefully, if I'm between posts again."

Tucker, who had two firsts and a second on Saturday finished three points ahead of Horowhenua Sailing Club's Antje Muller who had two firsts and a second in their eight-race nationals. Muller's partner David Brown was eight points behind her in third place.

Napier Sailing Club's Karl Banks and his crew of Gavin Earle, Gareth Howard, Mike Fenwick and Mark Sheldrake on Fine Entry won the seven-boat Ross 780 class nine-race nationals by one point from another host club crew skippered by Adrian Mannering on Bush Singlet.

Banks and co had a third and two seconds on Saturday while Mannering had three firsts.
Wellington skipper Mike Dunlop and his Evans Bay crew on Ghost Train were 17 points behind Mannering in third place.

A countback of wins was required to separate Manukau clubmates Gareth Insley and Robin Williams at the end of the 23-boat, nine-race Hartley 16 nationals. They both accumulated 18 points but Insley and his crew on Bizarre won the title courtesy of their four wins, one more than Williams and his crew on Shaking Laundry.

New Plymouth Sailing Club's Simon Holdt and his crew on Stratos were 10 points behind in third place. Twenty two points behind Holdt in fourth place was his clubmate and brother Jason Holdt and his crew on Simply Red.

The Holdts' father Wayne and his crew on Panache was fifth and relations and clubmates of the Holdts, Denny and Alan Holdt, completed the top seven with their respective crews.

Skipper Paul de Munk and crew Paul Dunford, who finished ninth in Tramp were the best of the host club crews in this class. The next best were Rob Hengst and his 13-year-old son Noah who finished 11th in Windsong and also won the award for the top family crew in the class.

Napier club commodore Paul Redman said conditions were ideal on Saturday with an 8 to 10-knot breeze and it was the first time in his memory the club had four different courses in action at the same time - two for the nationals, one for the club day regatta and one for the club's sailability class.