If international experience was the main factor Winston Liesebach would do the best of the Hawke's Bay sailors in the North Island Optimist Championships off Napier this week.

The 12-year-old Napier Intermediate School Year 8 student has raced in Slovenia and Germany. He was 200th in a fleet of 400 in his first taste of international competition at a Slovenia regatta at Easter.

Shortly after that event Liesebach was second at a Germany regatta. However Liesebach knows while that experience will prove beneficial other factors will come into play when the podium placings are decided at the end of the three-day Kennedy Park-sponsored championships on Sunday.

"I'll be happy with a top 20 finish," Liesebach said.


The third-year sailor will be tackling his second North Island championships. Last month he finished 21st at the AIMS Games in Tauranga which catered for intermediate school age competitors.

Another Napier Sailing Club third-year sailor with international experience is 11-year-old Lindisfarne College Year 7 student Carl Marshall. He recently raced as a member of a 10-strong New Zealand Development squad at a regatta in Noumea and finished 26th in a fleet of 39.

Marshall is still buzzing from that experience and as a result is aiming high this weekend.

"I want a top 10 finish," Marshall said.

He has recorded second and third placings in his age group at North Island level in the past. At the Picton-hosted nationals last Easter he finished fifth in the 11-year-olds and this secured Marshall his trip to Noumea.

"I've got another three years left in this class so I've got plenty of time to develop," Marshall added referring to the 14-and-under age group criteria for the class.

Twelve-year-old Havelock North Intermediate School Year 8 student Logan Rodgers took up the sport after embracing it during an introductory session at Pandora Pond during his Primary School days. Now a third-year sailor Rodgers will tackle his second North Island champs.

"As long as I improve throughout the regatta and finish among the top 40 I'll be happy," Rodgers said.


Port Ahuriri School Year 6 student Jed Potbury has a similar goal to Rodgers and he hopes some birthday luck, he turns 11 on Saturday, will help him achieve it. He will also be a second timer at the North Island Championship level.

Like Rodgers, Marshall and Liesebach, Potbury, is mentored by the Napier Sailing Club's Peruvian coach Orestes Reyes and will be attending the Easter nationals which will be hosted by the Murray's Bay club in Auckland.

"I'm hoping to compete in the Waszp foiling class or Paper Tiger class in the future," Potbury said.

His father Steve Potbury is a former sailor and is on the club's youth committee.

More than 170 competitors including some from Australia are expected across the three fleets - Optimist Open, Starling and Optimist Green. Three qualifying races for the Optimist Open fleet will be raced on Friday, another three on Saturday and three races in the final series will be raced on Sunday.

The Starling fleet has a similar nine-race schedule and the Optimist Green fleet will have three races on Saturday and three on Sunday. Twelve Hawke's Bay sailors will compete in the Optimist Open fleet and four in the Optimist Green fleet.

Six host club members will compete in the Starling fleet.