Three races were sailed on day one of the Splash World Sailing Championship held off Takapuna Beach in Auckland, New Zealand, in a brisk 18-22 knots of breeze.
The gusty southwester and outgoing tide created a short, steep chop that was challenging for all, but benefited those that really have the ability to work a heavier breeze.
At this early stage, the points spread is close: in provisional results, 2008 World Champion Ben Lutze (NZL) holds a two-point lead over Ben Sluijter (NED), after winning two races. Reigning Declan Burn (NZL) is in third position, with George Lane (NZL) in fourth and Jock Coppejans (BEL) fifth.
With the largest team and the benefit of local knowledge, New Zealand has claimed five of the top ten positions, the Nethelrands four and Belgium one.
Only 10 points separate the top five, and 17 points separate the top 10, which means competition will be very tight between the top 10 contenders, says spokesperson Helen McKenzie. "Tomorrow's results will start to give us an idea of how it's going."
Laura Hemingway (NZL), in 21st place overall, is the top female participant. Last year's top female, Nienke Reina Jorna (NED) is two places, and four points, behind her.
A high approaching the country is expected to see today's southwesterlies ease somewhat before racing starts tomorrow.
Racing today was held in two flights. Scores are combined and after three days racing the fleet is divided into gold and silver fleets for the final two days.
The Splash Dinghy is a fast, modern single handed dinghy designed for sailors under the age of 19. Favoured for its ability to build confidence in mostly teenage sailors, the boat is a step up from the Optimist, and a precursor and training vessel for the Laser class raced by both men and women at the Olympic Games.
The line up at the 2010 Splash World Sailing Championships includes 73 youth sailors from 12 countries. New Zealanders have been World Champions in the class in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009, and in 2009 New Zealand also won the Nations Cup at the Splash World Champs held in Europe.
Racing proper started at 11:00 on Monday 4 January, and conditions permitting, 13 races will be held, finishing on Friday 8 January, and followed by a prizegiving on the Friday evening.
Takapuna Boating Club is organizing the Splash World Sailing Championships, with support from North Shore City Council, SPARC, The Lion Foundation, Victoria Cruising Club and Yachting New Zealand.
The best spot for viewing is the beachfront reserve around Takapuna Boating Club on Takapuna Beach, where boats will be readied and launched from the beach each morning, or on the waters between Takapuna Boating Club and Rangitoto Island, from the first start at 11:00.
Prizes will be awarded to the winner of the Open Splash Championship, the best female winner, and the country with the lowest total points from amongst their three best sailors.
Full results are posted on Takapuna Boating Club's website - www.takapunaboating.org.nz