Team New Zealand trimmer the early leader

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 18:27 11/02/2014

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Team New Zealand trimmer Glenn Ashby rode his luck to take a solid lead on the opening day of the A-Class catamaran championships in Auckland today but he's got some nagging worries about his chief opposition.

Ashby won the opening race and placed second to fellow Australian Nathan Outteridge in the second race held in 7-10 knots of wind off Takapuna.

That left Ashby four points clear at the top of the table from veteran Australians Scott Anderson and Andrew Landenberger who upset some of the bigger names with their consistency.

But Outteridge is looming dangerously in fourth equal with Team New Zealand tactician Ray Davies, the best of the Kiwis, 10 points adrift.

Ashby has loaned his second boat to Outteridge, the helmsman of Swedish America's Cup syndicate Artemis Racing, for this event.

It was a close decision which boat to use and the lighter conditions clearly favour Outteridge who is using radical Polish "Exploder" j-shaped foils that excel in the softer breeze.

Outteridge had a commanding lead in the opening race but fell into a hole off Rangitoto Island and watched Ashby sail by. 

Outteridge finished 12th but made amends in the second race.

"I might have chosen the wrong boat," Ashby chuckled.

"Nathan is pretty slick in the light stuff ... maybe 200m quicker downwind. He's really got it dialled in at the moment.

"But we'll see as the week progresses."

The wind forecast for the next couple of days looks marginally stronger before dropping away for the business end over the weekend.

Ashby's support staff lies with Team New Zealand who have a strong presence in the regatta which is being contested over nine races and runs till Sunday.

Peter Burling lies sixth after placing 11th and third and his good mate Blair Tuke is 13th after a 15th and a ninth. 

Team New Zealand's round the world skipper Chris Nicholson is 17th and design guru Pete Melvin 20th.

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- Fairfax Media

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