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The O'pen Bic fleet is making its debut in Auckland waters in the New Zealand Herald Junior Pacific Series which started at the weekend.

Twenty of Auckland's finest young sailors - aged 15 and under, selected from the region's yacht clubs - competed in the first fleet races on Saturday and Sunday, with the top 10 going through to the finals on February 12 and 13.

A second group of 20 will race today and tomorrow to determine the remaining 10 finalists.

Bruno Trouble, co-ordinator of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, shipped the O'pen Bic boats from Europe especially for the junior regatta.

The boats, sailed in more than 35 countries around the world, have a connection to the America's Cup - they are made by Bic Sport, run by the family of Baron Marcel Bich, who led France's first Cup syndicate.

Regatta organiser Sarah Bilkey said the sailors took a little while to come to grips with the fast, planing hull and capsized often.

"All of them have gone through Optimists and some through the P Class and Starlings, so they're used to a more stable hull. But even when they capsized, they were all still smiling.

"It was amazing how quickly they had them righted."

Each race is five times around short triangle courses inside the Viaduct Harbour, in front of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series race village, making for perfect viewing. The boats glide within inches of the pontoons, and when gusts catch the young sailors unawares, the leaders are constantly changing.

The overall winner of the Louis Vuitton Junior Pacific series will get their own O'pen Bic yacht, worth $5000, plus bragging rights with an 18th-man spot with one of the international teams in the main series' final.