Great Britain, OK National and Open Championships 2000
The British Energy sponsored OK Dinghy National Championships was held at Dabchicks Sailing Club on West Mersea from 26th to 28th August. Such was the popularity of the venue and the prospect of good racing that the class has seen the highest entry since 1985 with 58 boats entered including World number 3 Bart Bomans from Belgium, 1996 Olympic Finn Representative Richard Stenhouse and three former National Champions. Dabchicks Sailing Club put on a slick display of race management with six excellent races, backed up by an evening social programme of free meals.
Race one got underway in a light westerly. Both favourite David Carroll as well as Alistair Deaves were called over and had to return to play catch up. Most of the fleet went hard right up the first beat but Bart Bomans and Alan Atkin popped out of the middle to round first and second followed by local boat Robert Deaves. The second beat saw Greg Casey and six times champion Hedley Fletcher move ahead of Deaves when the wind all but disappeared but Deaves pulled back to fourth when Casey didn't see the shortened course and so slipped back to fifth.
Race two was sailed in a force 4-5 easing to 3-4 towards the end. Again Bomans stormed away, but this time Richard Stenhouse was getting the hang of OK sailing and lead round the top mark followed by Bomans and David Carroll. These three had a close fight over the next three laps, with Bomans faster offwind and Stenhouse faster upwind. Stenhouse lead at the last windward mark and maintained his lead on the final run to the finish.
Day two was a testing day with a light and patchy wind. Competitors' concentration was stretched to the maximum with two long races beating into a strong ebb tide. Race three saw the overnight leader Bomans lead round the top mark first followed by David Bourne and Stenhouse. Bourne took the lead twice during the race but Bomans retook the lead on the final run and won his second race with Bourne in second. Terry Curtis and Stenhouse tussled throughout for third place with Stenhouse just taking the lead on the run to the finish.
Race four was sailed in much the same conditions as race three with a light fluky wind, many holes and finding the right shift was going to be difficult. Someone who got it right though was Stenhouse who started at the committee boat, tacked out to the right, came back on the best shift he could find and crossed the fleet to lead throughout the race. Peter Wibroe was second at the top mark followed by Bomans. Fletcher moved up to second by going left on the run and maintained that position to the finish. Bomans also pulled past Wibroe on the last run to stay in the joint overall lead of the championship.
Day three was a showdown between Stenhouse and Bomans. Level on points overnight each race turned into a battle of wits. Race five started with a port end biased line. Rodney Tidd made a cracking start arriving at the pin on the gun and heading for the left side of the course. Just below him was Bomans. Stenhouse took a hitch to the right to clear his wind before tacking back to also head left. Bomans then tacked back to the rhumb line and lost a lot of ground on the boats heading for the favoured left hand corner. So at the top mark, Stenhouse lead followed by Tidd and Robert Deaves. Bomans rounded fourth and stormed down the reach to begin a race long tussle with Stenhouse while Carroll moved up to third on the second reach. Positions stayed the same until the final reach when Stenhouse took Bomans high to protect his wind which allowed Carroll into the lead to win his first race of the weekend.
The final deciding race again saw a confused port end start and with several storm clouds crossing the course area (not to mention a few smacks and a fleet of yachts!), things were going to be interesting. John Ball made the best of the start to lead the way early on, virtually laying the windward mark with a wind shift under a large black cloud. But Bomans was underneath him and soon edged ahead and lifted up to lead around the top mark. Ball was second round followed by Hedley Fletcher. Stenhouse needing to beat Bomans again to take the championship was down in fourth but by the start of the second beat had moved to second. He took the lead on the next beat and lead to the finish where only about one metre separated the two boats - and the championship. David Carroll finished third and Fletcher was fourth.
In the end the event was dominated by two sailors with another group of five or six battling out the minor places. Stenhouse, sailing his first ever OK regatta (in a boat borrowed from former National Champion, Nick Craig), improved throughout the regatta to become virtually unbeatable. Bart Bomans, as always, showed great speed and was a tough competitor, while Hedley Fletcher who finished third in the regatta, took the runner up in the National Championship, being the second British boat
|1||Richard Stenhouse||GBR 2094||8|
|2||Bart Bomans||BEL 44||10|
|3||Hedley Fletcher||GBR 2073||19|
|4||David Carroll||GBR 2085||24|
|5||Terry Curtis||GBR 2084||29|
|6||Robert Deaves||GBR 2081||35|
|7||Greg Casey||GBR 2093||39|
|8||Alistair Deaves||GBR 2046||40|
|9||Andy Turner||GBR 2054||46|
|10||Peter Wibroe||DEN 1292||50|
- Lady : Mary Reddyhoff
- Cadet : Rachel Howe
- Junior : Will Turner
- Veteran : Greg Casey
- Newcomer : Lloyd Walker
- Team Upper Thames SC : (Curtis, Wibroe, Alan Atkin)
- Mark Williams Trophy : Rodney Thorne