LONDON gold medallist Malcolm Page is one of the most tactically astute men in sailing, but even he believes this weekend's Australasian Etchells Winter Championships at Mooloolaba will be "water chess".
With a variety of weather expected during the three-day event, which starts today, Page believes there will plenty of tactical battles between at least a dozen high-quality crews.
"It looks like we're going to have a bit of everything and if we get those (variable) conditions, it will be wonderful because that's what makes a true champion - someone who can sail in different wind," he said.
"I really think it will be an amazing regatta and a ding-dong battle.
"There will be a lot of water chess going on."
Page has plenty of accolades to his name, including Olympic gold medals in the men's 470 class at Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
"London was my last hurrah from an Olympic perspective," he said. "I was always going to retire from Olympic sailing then.
"I'm still trying to find a nine-to-five job out of the sailing scene, but when good regattas come along, I can't help myself - I'm going to be a sailor forever."
Despite his swag of success, Page, 41, has relatively limited experience in elite etchells regattas.
"This is the first time I've raced in such a major event in the etchells fleet, so from that perspective it's a new thing," he said.
"It's always been something I've been interested in.
"I love the water tactical battles that come with it and the little nuances of the boat - trying to keep it fast."
Page is in a four-man crew, alongside Simon Cook, Mark Thornburrow and Sunshine Coast sailor Klade Hauschild.
They will be up against crews that contain former world champions and also America's Cup-winning skipper John Bertrand, who is yet to win the Etchells Winter Championship in 10 years of trying.