Perfect spring weather and an outstanding team effort from local sailors, both on and off the water, made the 2020 New England Sailing Club Thunderbolt Regatta the biggest and best in many years.
The regatta at Lake Malpas attracted a fleet of 30 entries, almost twice as many as last year and including international level sailors who have tasted success in world titles, the Olympics, the America's Cup and the Sydney to Hobart.
They were greeted by sparkling sunshine and gusty winds on Saturday, with an almost glassy calm on Sunday.
Apart from the intense competition on the water, the main talking points for visitors and locals alike were the beauty of the location and the outstanding catering courtesy of Bec Campbell.
Many sailors have already announced they will be back next year to make 2021's regatta even bigger.
Competitors came from as far afield as Sydney, but none of the visitors could touch Ben Lomond sailmaker-turned-farmer Andrew Landenberger.
The Olympic silver medallist and current world champion in the high-tech A Class catamarans switched to his new ride, a small Impulse monohull dinghy that fits in better with Malpas conditions and the local fleet.
It was like going from a Formula One car to a go kart, but it was also a return to familiar ground to Landenberger, who won his first world title in the small Moth class dinghies.
He won the first five races straight in the 27-strong monohull fleet.
In second place in the overall monohull fleet was Castle Doyle's Chris Thompson, who picked up pace as the wind eased later in the weekend to win the last two races overall and win the top prize in the big fleet of identical one-design Laser class dinghies.
Grafton's Aaron Hancock and Harwood's Mark Mulligan filled the podium among the 23 Lasers, with Armidale's Andy Sawyer coming home fast in the late races and taking three straight runner-up positions.
Harwood's Wayne Culph took out the prize for the Laser Radial class.
The coastal sailors also tasted success in the small fleet of catamarans, with Grafton's Lindsay Cowan coming home a narrow winner.
In the interclub teams events, the locals took out the Thunderbolt Cup and interclub prize for the overall regatta points.
It was a different story in the interclub event for the Laser class, with Clarence River Sailing Club scoring a one-point win over Big River Sailing Club and the locals two points further back.
The big regatta fleet was a symbol of the club's growth as it rebounds from the drought. membership has increased by 70 per cent this season, with a surge of interest in the fast catamarans and continued strength in the simple, nippy Laser dinghies.
The club is also seeing renewed activity in two-person dinghies, junior classes, windsurfers and trailerable yachts.
Although the New England Sailing Club currently holds three world-championship trophies, the main drive is to bring in new and returning sailors.
Thanks to a donation of training boats from their sister club at Lake Keepit, the club will be able to run a learn-to-sail course at Malpas early in the new year.
Club boats are available to hire for $20 a day.
For more information, check out the club's Facebook page and website.