A young Taupo sailor will be pulling out all the stops to make sure that his last appearance at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships 2017 in The Netherlands will be his best.
Tauhara College student Blake Woodfield, 18, left last Saturday to head to Europe with his mother Michelle for a week of sightseeing followed by two weeks of training and racing at Medemblik in The Netherlands.
This is the third consecutive year Blake has raced in the Laser Radial Youth World Championships.
He travelled to Canada in 2015 and Ireland in 2016.
The six-day regatta consists of four days of qualifying, with the 280 or so entrants split into four equal fleets that are re-seeded daily to try to keep them even. Following that, the boats are split into gold, silver, bronze and emerald fleets and will compete hard for the top positions.
In Canada in 2015 Blake finished towards the bottom of the silver fleet and says he was happy to be in the top half of the four fleets.
In Ireland in 2016 he had an exceptional run in the qualifying series to make it into the gold fleet and won a second place in the second race, eventually finishing 46th from 230 overall.
This year he says he's looking to be up the front of the gold fleet and hunting a top-10 finish. While the one-person Laser is virtually the simplest sailing boat, the sailor's ability is the deciding factor and you have to be "quite big and strong" to handle them.
"After a day of racing you don't even have enough energy to open the door and walk up the stairs...it really drains you and it's a mental game as well as a physical one. Some days you can be out there for seven or eight hours waiting for the wind to come.
"It's hard after being out there for so long when they say it's time to go racing, it's quite hard to switch on and get your head in the zone."
Blake is one of the five-strong New Zealand team (three males and two females) and the team trains together once a month in Auckland.
He qualified for the team after the Bayleys New Zealand Laser National Championships on Lake Taupo in January.
This will be Blake's last year of sailing as a junior and next year he plans to study in Auckland where he wants to move into offshore and ocean racing in big boats.
"The end goal is to be in the top teams doing Sydney to Hobart and around the world racing."