World Championship 2006
Belmont, Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia
February 11th - 17th
A list of competitors, with all the information which was published at the Worlds Website
A copy of the official Website hosted by Andre Blasse.
Reports by Robert Deaves
Day 1, Monday 13th February
"A good day in the office"
After the first two races of the Toshiba 2006 OK Dinghy World Championship on Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia, series leader, Andre Blasse (AUS) described the day as a “good day in the office”. A third and a first leaves him the joint overall leader with Jorgen Lindhartdtsen (DEN) who also scored a first and a third.
The practice race had been sailed on the Sunday with Roger Blasse (AUS) taking the win. In the evening the championship was opened by the Vice-Mayor of Lake Macquarie City, Senator Laurie Coglan.
The morning started with very light and shifty winds with the forecast of a southerly change coming in sometime during the morning. This hit with surprising suddenness as the wind increased to 30 knots in a matter of minutes, as if a fan had just been switched on.
When race one started, the wind had moderated to 20 knots with the fleet getting away cleanly first time. Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) started near the pin, tacked on the first shift and crossed the entire fleet. He said, “I came right on a nice shift and it stayed so I just kept on going. I made a few tacks near the windward mark and rounded first. There was almost no-one down at the pin end so it was easy to start there.” Following Jorgen round the top mark were Steve Wilson (AUS), Russell Wood (NZL) and Jesper Petersen (DEN) who had all hit the right hand corner hard. Lindhartdsen sailed away to an impressive win, with Petersen moving up to third. Andrew Blasse (AUS) sailed a good last beat to take third place.
Race two was sailed in slightly less wind, but getting increasingly shifty. The pin end proved favoured with Jan Dietmar Dellas (GER) port tacking the fleet to lead comfortably around the windward mark followed by Andre Blasse and Lindhardtsen. Blasse moved past Dellas on the reaches with Lindhardtsen moving to second at the leeward mark. In the gradually lightening winds, Blasse extended his lead to win the race followed by Mark Williams (AUS) and then Lindhardtsen.
Speaking after the race Blasse commented. “It’s a bit different to last year’s first day when I scored two black flag DSQs! I sailed up the middle of the first beat, got a few shifts right and battled away with Jorgen. He's incredibly hard to beat. He never gives up and tacks on every shift and that makes it really hard.”
Defending World Champion Nick Craig (GBR) has an average day scoring a 9th and a 7th. Penalty turns on the start of race two for infringing another boat left him mid-fleet, but he managed to move up to 7th by the finish.
Day 2, Tuesday 14th February
Something strange happened tuesday on Lake Macquarie, Australia for day two of the Toshiba 2006 OK Dinghy World Championship. The sun didn’t shine at all and the winds were substantially lighter than the previous two weeks. Today the lake also lived up to its reputation in providing shifty and flukey conditions with large holes over the course area waiting for the unwary. However the conditions obviously suited Greg Wilcox (NZL) perfectly as he won both races.
Race three of the championship started in 10-12 knots after a general recall with the first big shift coming from the left. Jan Dietmar Dellas (GER) led from the left and rounded the top mark first followed by Karl Purdie (NZL) and Greg Wilcox (NZL). Both the kiwis sailed past Dellas on the first reach with Wilcox taking the lead from Purdie at the wing mark. Purdie and Wilcox then battled together with Wilcox finally breaking away on the final beat to take the first race of the day followed by Purdie, Nick Craig (GBR) and Adrian Mannaering (NZL).
After an hour’s delay because of very shifty winds, the course was moved slightly and after another general recall followed a similar pattern. The leaders came from the left again with Jon Fish (GBR) leading round the top mark from Karl Purdie (NZL). The leading pack of 10 pulled away from the fleet on the reaches but it all changed on the second beat. While the leaders took the right hand side of the course, several boats played the left hand side. At the moved windward mark Wilcox had moved from 10th to 2nd just behind Fish. The lucky prise of the day went to Andre Blasses after rounding the leeward mark about 20th went hard left and reached into the windward mark in 4th on a massive shift. Fish held onto the lead until the final leeward mark.
Wilcox said, “I decided to just sail my own race so looked for the pressure and played the shifts and it worked.” Wilcox won his second race of the day and now lies in 2nd place after 4 races. The leader after four races is still Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) after scoring an 8th and a 7th today. Karl Purdie’s 3rd and 2nd today moves hi up to third overall. The top junior is Tom Burton in 27th place who scored an impressive 8th in the first race today.
Wilcox summed up the day by saying, “The championship is now wide open. There are a lot of people still in the game so it should be a very interesting world championship.”
Speak to many of the sailors here about why they sail an OK Dinghy, and invariably you’ll get a similar response: community, competitiveness. Current World Champion Nick Craig (GBR) said, “The OK gives fantastic international competition with great venues and race management. It is one of the highest standards in amateur fleets, an excellent boat to sail, very responsive, fantastic in waves, indestructible in strong winds. It’s also very friendly and sociable, which you don't get in many classes internationally!” One of the German competitors Fabian Gronholtz said “We have great competitions on the water and a lot of fun apart from just sailing. The OK Dinghy sailors are like a big family all over the world.” Meanwhile, Australian OK competitor Richard Furneaux said “I like the OK because of the simple fact that it comes down to your own sailing ability, not gear, not design and not how much cash you spend. The mob you race against aren't a bad bunch either, if you don't mind the odd beer.”
The fleet here in Belmont has a surprising range of sailors of all ages and sizes. The competitors range from 15 to 65 years old, from 60 kg girls to 120 kg heavyweights and everything in between. Unlike many similar sized boats, its ease of handling seems to attract a wide range of weights, sizes and sailing styles and this makes it extremely competitive. The class also attracts the amateur sailor who appreciates the social side of the sport, and here in Belmont, the sailors have received a fantastic welcome from both the club and the local sailors
Day 3, Wednesday 15th February
A hard day for some
It was a quiet night in the bars of Belmont on wednesday as the OK fleet at the Toshiba 2006 OK Dinghy World Championship rests after sailing two gruelling races in strong winds. Winner of the Interdominion Championship held the week before, Roger Blasse (AUS) took race five while Russell Wood (NZL) dominated race six by leading all the way round.
Race five started in 15 to 20 knots from the north-east and partial cloud cover. It was almost a repeat of yesterday except the wind was much stronger. The left side of the course was favoured all day with Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) first into the left hand shift on the left side to lead into the windward mark from Roger Blasse (AUS) and Adrian Mannering (NZL). At the bottom mark the positions were unchanged, but on the next beat Blasse moved ahead and maintained his lead to the finish followed by Lindhardtsen. Nick Craig (GBR), who had sailed most of the course in 4th place, moved up to 3rd on the final beat.
Between races the wind increased further to 25 knots and gusting, with a mass of white horses coming down the course. Again those at the pin end started and headed left. Many came back across too early but those who went far enough were rewarded by a big left-hander into the top mark. Race winner Russell Wood (NZL) takes up the story. “I started near the pin in the second row, put in a few tacks to clear my air and then played the shifts up the left hand side before crossing and leading round the first mark. Apart from Mike Williams (AUS) briefly catching me up after the reaches, I led throughout and stretched away in the breeze to win. It was near ideal conditions for me.”
At the top mark Wood led from Williams, Lindhardtsen and Joe Porebski (NZL). At the gybe mark a large gust caused havoc with many sailors taking a quick swim. The following beats became an epic of endurance as the wind bombarded the fleet with shifts and gusts. Behind Wood, Craig moved through the fleet to finish second on the line from Lindhardtsen.
Overall it couldn’t be closer with Lindhardtsen holding a lead of 4 points over Karl Purdie (NZL) and 5 points over Craig. Only 5 points separate the next two sailors, so there is still all to play for tomorrow.
The OK Class has a long tradition of being a training ground for sailors, who go on to much greater achievements. Probably the most famous recently is Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL), who won a Gold and Bronze Olympic medal in the Finn class and is now regularly seen at the front on the Star fleet. Mateusz never won an OK Worlds; the closest he got was a 2nd in Napier in 1994, finishing as runner up to 4 times OK World Champion Leith Armit (NZL). He did though win the Europeans that year. About this time he emerged at a major force within the Finn class and stunned the sailing world by flying home the day after winning the Finn Gold in Savannah in 1996 to compete in the OK Dinghy worlds in Sweden.
The OK Dinghy International website has a long list of famous sailors who have sailed the OK in the past. These include Bjørn Westergard, Stig Westergard, Mike McIntyre, Tony Mutter, Peter Blake, John Cutler, Chris Dickson, Richard Dodson, Tom Dodson, Craig Monk, Jochen Schümann, Fredrik Lööf and Guy Lilljegren to name just a few.
Defending World Champion, Nick Craig is undoubtedly the most successful OK sailor currently competing within the class. His win at last year’s World Championship in Denmark was the culmination of many successful years’ racing the boat and a lot of hard work. Previously, he had come closest to winning in 2004, but finished as runner up to his friend Jim Hunt (GBR). After the 2004 OK Worlds both Hunt and Craig moved into Finns, with Craig winning the UK Nationals at the first attempt, just ahead of Hunt in 2005. Craig is still sailing Finns competitively and now places this as his main boat for the present.
Meanwhile here in Belmont, the Australian OK class is having a reunion of old OK sailors, with many previous sailors present today to enjoy the spectacle.
Day 4, Thursday 16th February
Craig takes the lead
In a day of two halves at the Toshiba 2006 OK Dinghy World Championship in Belmont, Australia, defending world champion Nick Craig (GBR) took over the lead with a 2nd place in race seven and consolidated his lead by leading race eight from start to finish. He goes into the final day with just a two point margin over Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN), who has a 10 point margin over third placed Karl Purdie (NZL).
After a 30 minute postponement, race seven started in a 5-6 knot northerly. The left side proved to be the way to go as everyone on the right side ran out of pressure. Mike Williams (AUS) led round the first mark after starting midline and going hard left before coming back in more pressure. He led all the way round the course to win the race. At the top mark, a number of new faces were to be seen. Following Williams was Peter Horne (AUS), Dave Hoogenboom (NZL), Richard Furneaux (AUS) and Bill Tyler (AUS).
Nick Craig (GBR) had taken the right side of the beat and rounded about 16th. He moved up to 10th by the leeward mark and gradually moved through the fleet until the final leeward mark when he rounded in third just behind Alistair Deaves (NZL). Deaves had started the committee boat end totally buried and had played the left in an attempt to recover. Finding the pressure and the shift he rounded the first mark about eighth and took a few more places downwind to move up to second.
The wind increased slightly for the final beat and able to stretch his legs, Craig reeled in Deaves to take second place. Craig said later, “He should have eaten more breakfast like I did!”
The wind was up to 10 to 15 knots for race eight. Both Craig and Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) started near the pin end and while Craig opted to consolidate and take the first shift across the fleet, Lindhardtsen carried on left and made just one tack to the windward mark, where he arrived just behind Craig. Peter Horne continued his good form rounding in 3rd. Craig was clearly in his element and stretched away to win his first race of the event. Behind him, Andre Blasse (AUS) had two great reaches to move up to second, but lost them on the final beat when he overstood the finish in a large left hand shift. Lindhardtsen played the shifts better to move to second while Russell Wood (NZL) moved up to third.
So the final day comes down to a showdown between Craig and Lindhardtsen, both of whom have the greatest respect for each other although a generation apart. Craig said with tongue firmly in cheek, “Obviously tomorrow I will be keeping an eye on Jorgen, but there are several others still in the game. However Jorgen is undoubtedly the main danger and is very canny in spite of his lack of experience!”
Part of the attraction of sailing an OK Dinghy is the ease of entry into the class and that a competitive boat can be obtained for relatively little outlay compared with similar boats. The introduction of carbon masts into the class in 2003, led to a spurt of development of rigs and the class is currently looking at evaluating modern sailcloth to take development a stage further.
In recent years the class has attracted a lot of talented younger sailors, attracted not only by competitive international fleets but also by the fun social side of the class. The class has traditionally attracted junior sailors, especially in Scandinavia and Australasia and developed a reputation as a trainer for the larger more expensive Finn. Here in Belmont, the top Junior is Tom Burton (AUS) who is currently lying in 37th place. After scoring a 21st and 8th in the light wind races of Tuesday, he struggled in the breeze yesterday to place 47th and 54th. However in the recent Sail Melbourne event, he showed real potential finishing second overall to the Interdominion Champion Roger Blasse (AUS) after three race wins. If the winds here on Lake Macquarie had been lighter throughout it could have been a different story.
On Friday the final two races of the world championship will be sailed and a new world champion will be crowned. �
Day 5, Friday 17th February
Second world title for Nick Craig
The brilliant Australian sunshine returned for the final day of the Toshiba 2006 OK Dinghy World Championship in Belmont, Lake Macquarie but the wind was a bit late turning up. When it finally arrived two hours late, things started to get interesting. Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) won the first race to bring him to within one point of Nick Craig (GBR) for the title. The final race showdown between Lindhardtsen and Craig didn’t materialise as an uncharacteristic error from Lindhardtsen left him chasing the fleet.
The fleet went afloat at 10.00 for a scheduled 11.00 start, drifted around for an hour in no wind and came ashore again. At 13.00 out they went again and this race nine was started in about 10 knots. Lindhardtsen started at the pin and hit the left hand corner before leading into the first mark followed by Jon Fish (GBR), Roger Blasse (AUS) and Craig, who had had a bad started and bailed out to the right side of the course. Lindhardtsen led all the way to win the race. Craig pulled through Fish and Blasse on the final beat to secure second.
After a general recall, race ten got underway in similar conditions. Again Lindhardtsen started at the pin and headed left while Craig started at the committee boat and also headed left. At the top mark Craig had a narrow lead over Fish and Robert Deaves (GBR). Lindhardtsen had trouble finding the windward mark, overstood and rounded about 12th. The ever cool Craig led all the way to win the race and the championship with Greg Wilcox (NZL) moving up to second and Karl Purdie (NZL) to third. This was the first time since the race format was changed to 10 races that the final race had been sailed – and with 40 minutes to spare.
Lindhardtsen credited Craig saying, “Nick sailed fantastically this week. Early on I thought he was having problems with his speed but the last three days he has sailed exceptionally well.” Craig also spoke of Lindhardtsen. “Jorgen is a legend. It’s like racing against a 25 year old sometimes. He’s so fit and focused and really hard to beat. I think what is really awesome is that he went for it 100 per cent every race, sailing extremely hard and was obviously here to win. I really hope he will be back next year in Poland, as I will be.”
For the second year running the bronze medal goes this year to Greg Wilcox, who is also President of the OK Dinghy International Association. His second place in the last race was enough to pull ahead of team mate Karl Pudie who had started the day in third place.
Next year’s OK World Championship will be sailed in the sunny Baltic resort of Leba in Poland.
C=DNC, F=DNF, S=DNS, O=OCS, G=RDG