Auckland sailor George Lee Rush secured the favourite's tag in style on day one of the North Island Optimist Championships off Napier today.
The fourth-year competitor from the Wakatere Boating Club had three firsts from as many starts in the Yellow Fleet of the Kennedy Park-sponsored championships which attracted 115 entries.
"Making things simple worked for me. I got clear off the starts and focused on my speed," the 13-year-old said as he reflected on his success.
He is competing in his fourth North Island championships and is racing on Hawke Bay for the third time. His best overall placing in the North Island championships is fourth.
"I'm pretty familiar with the conditions down here," he said.
In August Lee Rush was among the Kiwi contingent at the world championships in Cyprus. He finished 36th overall and sixth in his age group.
Waikato's Hugo McMullen, who represents the Lake club in Hamilton as well as the Kohimarama Yacht Club in Auckland was the top competitor in the Blue Fleet after first, third and sixth placings.
"I was only two points behind George after the first two races so I was happy with that."
Another fourth year sailor who is tackling his fourth North Island champs, McMullen, has finished 11th at the champs in the past. He has raced on Hawke Bay on three previous occasions.
Mentored by the Napier Sailing Club's Peruvian coach, Orestes Reyes, McMullen, finished 180th at the world champs.
"I'm aiming for a podium finish here in Napier this weekend," McMullen added.
Eleven-year-old Lindisfarne College student Carl Marshall was the best of the Hawke's Bay competitors today with 13th and ninth placings in his first two races. He is one of 12 Hawke's Bay sailors in the Optimist Open fleet.
Marshall 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. Napier Intermediate School Year 8 student Winston Liesebach is another Bay starter with international experienced after racing in Germany and Slovenia earlier this year.
Four Bay sailors are in the Optimist Green fleet which caters for less experienced competitors in the class which caters for competitors 14 and under.
Competitors had to deal with a variety of wind conditions.
"The day began with southerlies and then turned to south easterlies. These contributed to tricky conditions which were a good little test," according to Napier Sailing Club youth committee member Adrian Mannering who coaches many of the host club competitors.
"I think we will have these conditions all weekend. Those who can adjust to the changes and get consistent results will be rewarded," Mannering added.
Three more races are scheduled for tomorrow and another three on Sunday. A Starling Regatta which involves 28 competitors is being staged in conjunction with the optimist championships. Six host club members are competing in the Starling fleet. Napier's Jordan Dakins had a win yesterday.