Carl Evans has done plenty of sailing on Tauranga Harbour in the buildup to the Beijing Olympics, where he was part of New Zealand's youngest-ever sailing combo, but the weekend felt like he was back in the classroom as he continues his education in the relatively new sport of windsurfing.
Evans took out the RS:X North Island open men's title, holding off Tauranga's defending champion Sven Pedersen by the slimmest of margins, with neither sailor recording a result in yesterday afternoon's sixth and final race after breaching the start line early.
Evans, 21, had had three wins and two seconds till then, with Pedersen boasting a two win-three second record. Pedersen went on to dominate the final race but neither yachtie's score counted, meaning there was no need for a countback.
The Takapuna sailor quit the water after Beijing, burned out mentally and financially and without the backing to carry on.
"I would have loved to have kept going in 470 (he went to Beijing with Tauranga's Peter Burling) but I got out for 18 months, mainly because I was a little bit sick of it but also because I couldn't afford to start up another 470 campaign.
"I tried sailing a 470 with a few different people but it didn't work and I didn't have the cash behind me to keep pushing forever. [Body] size was also a bit of an issue - I was too big to keep steering."
Evans dove into an engineering degree and swapped wind for pedal power (taking up mountainbiking) but was lured back onto the water two years ago by a mate who was into windsurfing.
He trained a lot with Olympic champion Tom Ashley leading up to last year's ISAF world championships in Perth but was off the pace in the regatta, finishing just outside the top 70.
"I wouldn't say it's easy, although it's still sailing. I'm well off the level of guys like Tom and JP (Tobin) and Perth showed me I've still got a lot to learn as far as boat handling and speed goes.
"RS:X is a lot more physical and fitness based and tactically windsurfing's a lot different too than the sailing I've come from. A huge part of it is speed - if you don't have that you have no chance and you'll get spat out the back of the fleet at the start."
Evans is just the sixth name on the trophy. Pedersen won last year and Ashley the year before that after the regatta was resurrected by the Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club in 2009. Before that it was last contested in '96, when it was won by Barbara Kendall's husband and coach Shayne Bright, with Kendall the winner in '94.
Evans would love to emulate Kendalls' achievements and get to an Olympics. Age is no issue but it's experience that's lacking.
"My big worry right now is whether I started in windsurfing too late. The young guys coming through are incredibly talented and have been windsurfing from a young age, whereas I lack the base skill and I'm playing catchup. I'm still learning and the next year or two will show me what sort of future, if any, I've got on a board."
Tauranga's Bradley Nixon won the RS:X under-19 title, while the youth women's division was taken out by Murrays Bay's Stephanie Corkery. In the Techno grades, Hamish Dunning-Beck won the under-17 boys and Christchurch's Xanthe Bowater the girls, with Finn Croft (Manly) taking the under-15 trophy and Carmen Haybittle (Murrays Bay) the girls.