Monthly Archives: February 2019
Symonite OK Dinghy Worlds at Wakatere Boating Club
Dan Slater has won the 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship at Wakatere Boating Club after a challenging final day of racing with at first light winds, then breezy conditions, but always difficult and shifty.
Fredrik Lööf almost did enough to pass Slater, but finished four points back in second, while a magnificent final race win for Josh Armit brought him back up to third overall. The first race of the day was won by Steve McDowell.
Sailing on home waters, Slater has hardly put a foot wrong all week, but today he made it look hard, even though he didn’t look particularly rattled by two scores in the 20s. But he wasn’t the only one picking up large numbers and did just enough to take the title.
He explained his day, “First race it was tricky but I just got it wrong and chose the left and the left just wasn’t on. It shifted within a minute of the start and there was no way of getting back. I still had an opportunity to get a top 10, but just blew it with a bad start. “
McDowell won the first race by a large margin, leading at the top and extending round the course in very light winds to win from Thomas Hansson-Mild and Rohan Lord. Slater also made a mistake in the second race, the final race of the championship.
“In the second race up the first beat I had control of the whole fleet. Great start, in control and I knew I just had to stay with Freddy. He was the only one that could beat me. We both overlaid the top by going to the wrong top mark. And then we just played truck and trailer around the course.”
They crossed the finish line together after Lööf had tried to drag him through the fleet, unsure of where the points were lying but knowing it would be his discard.
Josh Armit already had a sizable lead at the first mark and extended for a huge win from Hansson-Mild and Lord. But for two alphabet scores early in the week Lord would have been looking at a podium position instead of 11th.
While the story is about the medallists, the best sailor on the day was 2009 world champion, Hansson-Mild with two seconds. After suffering from arriving just before the worlds, “It’s been a tough week but today I had focus and felt fresh and did a couple of seconds.”
“From the social side I can only recall 1999 in Neustadt as a worlds that has been similar in terms of social events ad the camaraderie in the boatpark, especially the private sheds for each country has been awesome and I really enjoyed. I think the kiwis have shown a great hospitality and the racing has been tough and hard, but good.”
Rod Davis was the first Master in the fleet in ninth overall, “I am very happy with ninth. For this regatta it’s always hard to set the goals as I had no idea where I was going to finish. It’s been a bit preparation for this worlds, with boats and rigs and sails, and learning and I just wanted to have all the boxes ticked and then sail as well as I could sail. Wherever that ended up was going to be where I ended up. It was a regatta that wanted to fall into place. I had my fair share of breaks but probably had no bad breaks go against me, not ones I couldn’t recover from. So I am happy.”
“If you throw the dice down again and run this regatta next week, and we could have different winners. That’s just how the competition works, but I thought it was a good contest. We had a couple of days of sea breeze, a couple of days of the offshore breezes, which are shifty and a little more complicated. So it’s a good results as in terms of as quality of sailing.”
Three women competed for the women’s prize, won by Olivia Christie. “I have really enjoyed the week. It’s been heaps of fun racing in such a big fleet and got some really good starting practice and learned a lot about the OKs as well.”
Best part, “was racing against a high quality big fleet and also the helpfulness of everyone around. I was really nice to meet lots of new people. We need more girls sailing OKs. There were three of us here and there’s not much point racing trying the race the other girls them as you have to pick them out in the fleet of 100.”
Christie was also second in the junior division behind Armit.
Löof commented on his week. “It’s been an awesome week here. I have really enjoyed myself. I came a little bit early with my son to have at least a little bit of chance at the regatta, but I got a quite a shock when I came because I saw the level of Kiwis. They were putting in a lot over the last year or two so I saw right away it was going to be a hard regatta.”
“But it’s been a good regatta. A good fight to the end, but unfortunately Dan sailed like a legend on his home waters. I don’t think even Ben Ainslie would beat him those conditions. A couple of days at the beginning of the regatta he had quite a big advantage. At least I put in a bit of pressure at the end but I am second again.”
Next year, “Yes, we have to keep going.”
“Everyone here has done such a fantastic job at this regatta to make it a legendary regatta, and it’s nice to have a Kiwi wining. When I heard about Dan I didn’t know he’d been in the class for a couple of years so for me to be second after only six months I am quite pleased and pleased with my performance.”
On winning the title, Slater said, “It’s really nice, just really nice. It’s not about the winning. I chased those dreams years ago. But it’s really neat to be able to sail against the guys that that I’ve sailed my whole sailing career against. Rohan, Freddy, Jan and a whole lot of guys like that. So to race against these guys now is great; we’ve just moved on in life.”
“And then you have a young guy like Josh Armit, who is a gifted sailor, 17 years old, fit, all the things we were when we were 17 and pushing us around the track. It’s a really neat scene.”
He was unsure whether he could defend his title in Marstrand, Sweden, next year but said, “I will definitely be back. That’s not it for me in the OK for sure, I built the boat so I could come down here on a Sunday and we could race with 18-20 boats. The neat thing about the worlds being here in New Zealand is that we used to get between 25-35 at a event but by having the worlds here we now have nearly 60 boats that are competitive, so at our travellers series we have between 30-40 boats at any regatta. So the class is strong now, really strong.”
At the end of the fabulous prize giving ceremony at the Wakatere Boating Club on Friday evening, an invitation was made to meet again at next year’s OK Dinghy World Championship, at Marstrand, in Sweden.
Overall Results: (top 10 of 111 boats, 9 races sailed)
1 NZL 562, Dan Slater 37pts
2 SWE 69, Fredrik Loof 41pts
3 NZL 485, Josh Armit 44pts
4 NZL 578, Luke O’Connell 50pts
5 NZL 559, Andrew Phillips 57pts
6 GBR 2208, Nick Craig 58pts
7 NZL 579, Steve McDowell 64pts
8 SWE 100, Thomas Hansson-Mild 91pts
9 NZL 592, Rod Davis 122pts
10 NZL 583, Eric Rone 141pts
Veteran 40+ years: Dan Slater, NZL
Master 55+ years: Rod Davis, NZL
Grand Master 70+ years: Bob Buchanan, AUS
Junior: Josh Armit, NZL
Women: Olivia Christie, NZL
Elvström Trophy: Fredrik Lööf, SWE
Geest Trophy: Bruce Schofield, AUS
Clive Roberts Trophy: Dan Slater, NZL
Find full results here.
by Robert Deaves – OKDIA
Day 4 – Symonite OK Dinghy World Championships at Wakatere BC
Dan Slater has extended his lead to 11 points on the penultimate day of the Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship at Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland. He takes an 11-point lead into the final day from Fredrik Lööf. Andrew Phillips stays in third after winning the first race of the day, while Rohan Lord won the second race.
The day started as expected with a postponement onshore, but after two hours the fleet was rewarded with a building sea breeze and two great races into the early evening. With the change in direction from the last few days, the top mark was almost in the shipping channel, so the tide played an important role.
Race 1 winner, Andrew Phillips, from the home club, dominated the first race of the day, taking the lead on the first reach and then leading at every mark despite some strong opposition chasing him. Five-time world champion, Nick Craig, led at the top mark for the first time this week and was in the chasing pack once Phillips took the lead. Phillips extended near the end and Lööf came through for second with Slater third and Craig fourth.
Race 7 started with a black flag and six boats disqualified as early starters after one false start under ‘U’ flag. Ben Morrison lead at the top, but unfortunately was one of the BFDs. Rohan Lord was not far behind and took the lead on the second lap and held on to win from Craig and Lööf.
Craig was enthusiastic about his day. “I am really enjoying it. It’s fantastic racing with 110 boats, and a really high standard. The club is running it really well. As soon as we get in we get two beers and a plate full of food, so that certainly appeals to me.”
“In terms of the sailing it is very tough. I didn’t have a great Day 2. I was just over tacking on the shifts and the sides were paying so I got that very wrong, but back on a bit of form today, so very happy.”
“The race officer has done a great job all week. Today we sailed in the best breeze of the day. It was probably 10-12 knots and reasonably steady, oscillating about 10 degrees, which I like. The sides weren’t paying; you had to take some shifts. So it was a good day.”
On sailing the OK. “It’s fantastic, the great racing is really close, it’s tough, not easy, with great camaraderie and there’s great shore side socials, We had the lay day on Wednesday and on Tuesday night I left at 1.00 am and the bar was still going strong, so it’s been a good fun week.”
Lord hasn’t sailed OKs since 1986. “So it’s 38 years. I actually got back into sailing just to stay alive really; we’re all getting older. And just to go racing. And also because the world champs were here. The quality of the boats is fantastic. The good thing is you have the young guys like Josh Armit who can race alongside the masters and anyone can have their day, whereas some classes are more elite.”
On the race win. “I guess I was a bit lucky really as I managed to get off the line with a bit of pace and a lot of height on the leeward boats, so I was quite lucky in that regard. So I had a slight jump of the boats around me so I could sail my own race.”
On the event. “It’s fantastic. The class is so good and the racing is great with all the international competitors and the way that the Wakatere club has organized everything, from the beers to the volunteers it’s been fantastic.”
“I started sailing the OK in 1986 when the worlds were here and I think the class has evolved as the sailors got older, the organization has become better and it’s really well run. From what I can see the New Zealand guys have a really good organisation system; it’s amazing what they have achieved.”
Slater is within reach of the OK Dinghy world title and just needs one more good race to polish off an impressive week of sailing. Lööf didn’t get off to the best start but seems to have got to grips with the fickle wind and was the best sailor on Day 4. Phillips, meanwhile, has surprised many and is the only sailor so far to win more than one race.
Racing will conclude on Friday, with the first warning scheduled for 11.00 and a maximum of two races possible. The forecast is not very encouraging so hope remains for a sea breeze to develop in time to get in the two remaining races before the 16.30 deadline.
Results after Day 4: (top 10 of 111 boats)
1 NZL 562, Dan Slater 12pts
2 SWE 69, Fredrik Loof 23pts
3 NZL 559, Andrew Phillips 24pts
4 NZL 485, Josh Armit 31pts
5 NZL 578, Luke O’Connell 35pts
6 GBR 2208, Nick Craig 45pts
7 NZL 579, Steve McDowell 52pts
8 NZL 592, Rod Davis 77pts
9 SWE 100, Thomas Hansson-Mild 87pts
10 NZL 577, Paul Rhodes 104pts
Find full results here
by Robert Deaves of OKDIA
Day 3 Symonite OK Dinghy Worlds
Olympians Dan Slater and Fredrik Lööf took the race wins on the third day of the 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship at Wakatere Boating Club, in Auckland, after two more races in a very shifty offshore breeze. Josh Armit ended the day in second with Andrew Phillips in third.
Early morning showers gave way to a beautiful, hot and sunny day by race time, though the offshore wind caused its fair share of tears through the fleet with many favourites deep at times and many sailors scratching their heads in frustration. But many of the same sailors also made it to the front each race, while others made it look quite hard at times.
Race 4 started on time and got away first time in 8-10 knots with a huge split left and right from the 650 metre long start line to accommodate the 111 boats taking part. Slater led at the top from Rohan Lord and Tim Davies, from Australia.
Lord took the lead on the second round but Slater pushed hard on the final upwind with shifts from all directions to take the race win. Even 100 metres from the finish it was anyone’s game with 50 degrees shifts and huge pressure changes. The final shift let Slater cross ahead of Lord and Luke O’Connell.
There was slightly more wind for the second race of the day. Thomas Hansson-Mild, from Sweden, executed a perfect port tack start from the pin and crossed the entire fleet. Lööf started at the boat and also went right. At the top, Lööf rounded first from Matthew Mason, Slater and Hansson-Mild. Lööf stayed in front all the way to record his first win of the week, with Slater sailing well again to secure second from Nick Craig, from Britain, who took a few places on the final tricky upwind.
Slater has so far put together an impressive series, discarding a second place.
“It was a little bit different to yesterday but really head out of the boat stuff and trying to get clear air. I was a bit fortunate today. There was quite a bit of line sag so it was a bit easier to get off the start line. And then I was able to sail a lane.”
“I had a first and a second so that keeps me in the hunt with a lot of racing still to go, with a pretty miserable forecast for Thursday and Friday.”
Lööf came into the event as European Champion and clear favourite. However even he has had trouble finding his way up the beats. He remains in fourth but is closer to a podium position after the bullet today.
“It was a really tough day today. There are so many things happening. I am very impressed by Dan Slater. He is just putting the boat in the right place all the time and getting firsts and seconds. Also Josh Armit is sailing really, really well.”
“Finally I had a good race in the last race. But I was happy at the end of the day so all good.”
Former world champions, Nick Craig and Thomas Hansson-Mild had better days, both moving into the top 10 after some forgettable races on the second day of racing. However the Kiwis can still boast seven out of the top 10, which is pretty impressive given the quality of the fleet here.
With five races and a valid series now sailed, the fleet can have a well-deserved day off on Wednesday.
Racing is scheduled to continue on Thursday at 13.00.
The series concludes on Friday 15 February.
Day 3 highlights video:
Results after Day 3: (top 10 of 111 boats)
1 NZL 562, Dan Slater 7pts
2 NZL 485, Josh Armit 16pts
3 NZL 559, Andrew Phillips 18pts
4 SWE 69, Fredrik Loof 18pts
5 NZL 578, Luke O’Connell 20pts
6 NZL 579, Steve McDowell 20pts
7 GBR 2208, Nick Craig 39pts
8 NZL 580, Ben Morrison 44pts
9 SWE 100, Thomas Hansson-Mild 45pts
10 NZL 592, Rod Davis 49pts
Find full results here
by Robert Deaves – OKDIA
Day 2 of Symonite OK World Championships at Wakatere
Seventeen year old Josh Armit has taken the joint lead at the 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship at Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland after emerging from the second day of racing with the lowest points of any of the 111 competitors.
Day one leader, Andrew Phillips is joint first while Dan Slater completes the top three. All three sailors are sat on four points after three races. The second race of the day was won by Brit, Richard Burton, who mastered the shifty conditions to lead throughout.
The day began windless with a two-hour postponement on shore. Around 12.00 the Manakou sea breeze (from the west cost) began to build and the fleet were sent out in a promising offshore breeze. However once on the race course it was still quite unstable in strength and direction. The race officer moved the fleet closer to the Takapuna shoreline where the wind was stronger, but it was still quite shifty.
Race 2 got away first time in 10-12 knots with the fleet split fairly evenly across the course. Those on the right faired better with Luke O’Connell leading into the top from Slater and Rohan Lord. It all changed on the next triangle with young Armit moving ahead on the second upwind, with numerous changes through the rest of the top 10. Armit led round the remaining lap to lead eight more Kiwis over the line with Fredrik Lööf in tenth.
The next race started very quickly with a slightly more stable breeze, though the sun was on the way down. Lööf controlled and won the boat end and tacked off to the right. Burton started by the pin and went left. At the top Burton had a useful lead from Matthew Mason and Paul Rhodes, but by the wing mark Lööf was up to second and pushed Burton hard round the next lap.
However Burton hung on and on the final beat played the shifts in the middle while Lööf went left and Slater went right. All three looked to have the win sown up at some points, but then Slater and Armit got a right shift. Burton tacked over and just managed to hook into it to lead across the finish by a few metres, while Lööf had to settle for fourth.
Burton explained his day. “When we actually got out there it was 50 degree shifts; very difficult. First race was a bit bad for me. The second race I got some nice shifts out of the start and a little bit lucky, but managed to hold it round the rest of the race. The wind was tricky, and they were all a bit slippery downwind but I just managed to hold it.”
Coming into the finish, “I was quite lucky at the top. Freddy was very close behind me but my main goal at that point was trying to get across to Dan as they had some nice lifts on the right. I thought Freddy was probably trying it on a little bit, so I went across to Dan and managed to get a nice little lift and had him trapped in behind me and then tacked on a lovely 15-degree shift. It was a nice bit of luck but I felt I deserved it.”
“It was my aim for this event to win a race so that’s one monkey off my back. Winning a world’s race is a goal I have had for quite a while.”
Armit is the 2018 Laser Radial Youth World Champion and also the son of four time OK Dinghy World Champion, Leith Armit, who is here coaching him this week.
Armit said, “It was pretty good racing and a bit tricky, but a great job by the race committee to get two races done in some pretty trying conditions.”
“It was good fun out there and I managed to get a first and a third, which was really good. There’s a lot of luck came in today with pretty hard and trying conditions. It was unusually shifty.”
On following in his father’s footsteps, “It’s really cool. I only hopped back into the boat a few months back and decided to come here a few days ago. I only got back from Miami on Wednesday, so it was a last minute decision to come here. But it was a good decision and I am learning lots so it’s really good fun.”
“He is one of New Zealand’s fastest rising Laser sailors and looks to be heading for a great sailing career, “We are doing the trials in the Laser for Tokyo, and I’m trying to do as best I can in that and learn as much as I can.”
But the future is now unsure. “The future is a tricky one though. It would have been nice to look at the option of moving into a Finn. The OK is an amazing stepping stone into the Finn and I really enjoy that side of the boat. But it might be hard at the moment.”
At 17 years old he already weighs 80kg. “It’s quite a struggle to stay light enough for the youth classes as it is. I think it will be the same for the Laser.”
“It is quite disappointing that the Finn is being dropped from the Olympics. It would have been nice to have the option and look at it in the long term. But without the Finn it looks like only small man’s classes for the Olympics.”
At the end of the second day in Auckland, Kiwi sailors fill nine of the top 10 places, the only other being Lööf in fourth place. Many of the favourites are already struggling in what is looking like becoming a high scoring series in the tricky conditions.
Racing is scheduled to continue on Tuesday at 13.00. The series consists of 10 races and concludes on Friday 15 February.
Follow the class Twitter and Facebook pages for live updates during the day.
video highlights of day 2
Results after Day 2: (top 10 of 111 boats)
1 NZL 485 Josh Armit 4pts
1 NZL 559 Andrew Phillips 4pts
3 NZL 562 Dan Slater 4pts
4 SWE 69 Fredrik Loof 8pts
5 NZL 578 Luke O’Connell 10pts
6 NZL 579 Steve McDowell 10pts
7 NZL 580 Ben Morrison 17pts
8 NZL 592 Rod Davis 17pts
9 NZL 583 Eric Rone 18pts
10 NZL 577 Paul Rhodes 18pts
Find full results here
by Robert Deaves of OKDIA
Symonite OK Dinghy Worlds – Day 1
Kiwi sailors filled the top three places in the only race sailed on the opening day of the 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship at Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland, New Zealand. Andrew Phillips led all the way to win from Dan Slater and Luke OConnell.
The forecast for the day was at best changeable, but was ultimately challenging for race officer and sailors alike. The fleet launched on time but after arriving in the race area there were several large wind shifts and position changes before a course was laid.
video highlights of day 1
Race 1 downwind In the end it took five attempts to get the fleet away in a patchy 5-8 knots. Two general recalls under black flag left 18 boats with a BFD score to start their championship, including a few big names.
The left side seemed to pay with more pressure closer to shore. Phillips judged it well and just squeezed inside Slater at the top, never to be headed. It turned into a quite a slow procession and with 111 boats trying to find wind, the split upwind was huge and the downwinds were an often fruitless search for pressure.
The top three led round the fleet round the course with Phillips covering Slater up the shortened final leg to the finish, while OConnell led Fredrik Lööf and Steve McDowell over the line.
The flag boat at the finish sent the fleet ashore, a decision received with mixed emotions, but generally relief.
Phillips said, Very tricky out there. Hats of to Paul [Davies, the Race officer] and the race committee for eventually getting the start off in extremely tricky conditions I dont know how many black flags we had or how many general recalls we had but we only had one race in the end.
This championship marks his return to the class he last sailed when the world championship was in Napier in 2002. It was a good day and great to be back in the OK Dinghy after nearly 20 years. I think the last time I sailed was in 2002. So it was good to come away with the win.
Why did he come back? I came back to the OK a year ago for the New Zealand nationals. What brought me back was the quality of the fleet really We have about 30 OK Dinghies sailing out of Wakatere and regularly get most of those boats on the water. So thats cool and also just sailing with your mates and sailing with some quality guys. If you win a race here then you can say youve done it against some really good guys and that pretty cool, from an amateur sailing point of view.
The strong Kiwi fleet had six boats inside the top 10. In fifth place was Steve McDowell from Worser Bay Boating Club in Wellington.
I had quite a good day in the end I was pretty happy. It was multiple restarts, really light and quite big shifts, so really tricky. I was probably a little bit lucky up the first beat. I sort of got bounced out to the left a bit, which as it turned out was quite good and I managed to get bit of pressure and my own lane coming into the top mark and from there it was a case of follow the leader, but really happy with a fifth considering the conditions.
On the strong local fleet, he said, Its great. I think we saw out there today, certainly from the New Zealand point of view, that there are 20 or 30 guys who are quick enough to be up the front. Its makes it easier to train and know you are going quick when you have such a strong fleet.
Racing is scheduled to continue on Monday at 13.00. The series consists of 10 races and concludes on Friday 15 February.
Results after Race 1: (top ten of 112 entries)
1 NZL 559 Andrew Phillips 1
2 NZL 562 Dan Slater 2
3 NZL 578 Luke O’Connell 3
4 SWE 69 Fredrik Lööf 4
5 NZL 579 Steve McDowell 5
6 GBR 2208 Nick Craig 6
7 DEN 3 Jørgen Svendsen 7
8 NZL 592 Rod Davis 8
9 SWE 100 Thomas Hansson-Mild 9
10 NZL 584 Rohan Lord 10
Full results here.
Event website including results and notice board at 2019.okworlds.org
Wakatere Boating Club website: www.wakatere.org.nz
by Robert Deaves – OKDIA
One hundred and eleven OK Dinghies from eight nations have gathered at Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland, New Zealand to contest the 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship. It is not only the largest-ever OK Dinghy event outside Europe, but also the first world championship held at the club.
After two days of registration and measurement, the practice race and opening ceremony on Saturday 9 February heralded the beginning of an event that has been six years in the planning. And what a day it turned out to be.
Wakatere Boating Club has left no stone unturned to try and stage the perfect event. It has been overwhelmed by the huge range of sponsors from local panel company Symonite, as headline sponsor, to countless minor sponsors providing after race beer and prizes. All this effort was rewarded by the huge turnout of sailors from around the world, with five containers of boats joining the strong local fleet.
Commodore, Simon Probert, said, “Wakatere Boating club and its members are thrilled with the opportunity to run its first ever world championship. Ever since the idea was first discussed after the
Interdominion Championship here in 2013 the excitement in the local OK fleet and the members has been huge.”
“The enthusiastic support of our committee, members and local community is a testament to the dedication and desire of the whole club to make this event a huge success. We are now looking forward to getting on with the racing.”
The hype around the regatta has seen the number of local OK Dinghy sailors almost double over the past few years, with around 40 boats now racing at the club. This strong local fleet now includes an impressive array of top sailors, including three-time Olympian Dan Slater, double Olympic medalist Rod Davis, as well as multiple America’s Cup sailors, all of whom have been eagerly anticipating hosting sailors from around the world for the championship.
The opening ceremony was held on Saturday evening. After an introduction by the Commodore, Simon Probert, the local Iwi Ngati Whatua O Orakei performed a Powhiri, which is a formal Maori welcome accompanied by song.
The championship was then officially opened by Ralph Roberts who told the story about how the class was established in New Zealand in the 1960s, and how the camaraderie of the fleet, and the friendships between sailors helping each other, set it apart from many classes, as it still does today.
Earlier in the day, after a grey and sometimes inclement morning, the practice race started in a solid 15-16 knot easterly. Soon after the start, the clouds cleared and the sunshine returned, and it turned into a fabulous day on the water. With a swell up to 2 metres and wind increasing to 20 knots. It was a tough race, but left smiles from ear to ear.
Wakatere sailor, Mark Perrow led at the top mark from Dan Slater, also from the home club and Fredrik Lööf, from Sweden. Both passed him down the fast and furious reaches, but then both headed for home to leave Perrow with a huge lead that he capitalised on to record a large win. Former world champion Roger Blasse was some way back in second with Class President Mark Jackson in third, both from Australia.
Perrow, “It was a lovely day out there with awesome sailing conditions, big waves and heaps of good guys. I was lucky to get the bullet after a few guys pulled out. I let a couple of Olympians through on the reach, Dan and Freddy. They were through me and off but pulled out on the second reach, so I managed to win, so that was good fun.”
He wasn’t worried by any bad luck surrounding winning the medal race. “I’ve seen the weather forecast for the week and thought I had better carry on and win the race as the rest of the week could be a bit dodgy.”
Junior participation has been a key motivator in lead up to the championship. Many young sailors at the championship have been gifted a free entry through sponsorship the Victorian Cruising Club. It supports a range of youth sailing through grants and is one of the event’s major sponsors.
There are five juniors taking part including two girls. Olivia Christie normally sails a Laser Radial, and has Olympic ambitions, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to sail in such a huge high-profile fleet.
“I am just here because it is a really big and very high level fleet and I wanted to get in some racing in a big fleet before going to Europe this year. It’s interesting not racing against very many other girls, but it’s always nice when you are beating a few guys.”
“Today was really fun, big waves and probably the windiest I have been out in the OK so far. I was generally in control, except when I capsized when I was fiddling around with the vang trying to figure out the sail settings. But I managed OK.”
“The fleet has been really, really helpful. I was surprised that everyone just mucked in to get me sailing with a fast rig. It’s been amazing.”
Racing for the 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship begins in earnest on Sunday. The weather forecast shows the possibility for some funky days ahead, to challenge one of the most competitive fleets to ever gather for an OK Dinghy world championship.
by Robert Deaves – OKDIA
The pin may have been the preferred end of the starting line for the 49erFX Medal Race, the first of day 5 of the Hempel World Cup Series Miami, but in light air there’s a lot of risk in starting in a pack.
So while Martine Soffiatti Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) did two tacks just before the gun and carved out a wide lane to work with at the committee boat end, overnight leaders Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) found themselves spit out the back of a pack of five boats all battling for position at the pin end.
“For us our goal was to have a clean start because in this light wind it’s very easy to get caught by the boat to leeward and I think we did that successfully,” said Grael, the defending gold medallist in the class from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. “It was pretty shifty, I was very happy with how the racecourse was set up.”
Light air usually means a lot of passing lanes and opportunities to atone for a poor start. At times, it appeared that Maloney and Meech would be able to grind into the top six, which would’ve guaranteed them the gold medal. But in the end Grael and Kunze hung on for second and Maloney and Meech came out on the wrong side of a tough battle on the final run with Stephanie Roble and Margaret Shea (USA) and Odile van Aanholt and Marieke Jongens (NED). The Kiwis finished ninth and dropped into silver. Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey (GBR) were fourth in the race to earn the bronze medal.
Highlights video of final day medal races:
“It was a hard decision which side of the course to go,” said Kunze. “We were just picking which shift [to tack on] and we did a really good race.”
The pin end was also the popular starting spot for the 49er class. In fact, there were so many boats starting at the pin end that fully half of the 10-boat fleet was over the line early. Among those crossing the line prematurely were Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stuart Bithell (GBR) and James Peters and Fynn Sterritt (GBR), who started the Medal Race second and third, respectively. Only Fletcher-Scott and Bithell returned to start properly. But they were so far behind there was no chance of challenging pre-race leaders Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER) for the gold medal, even though the German team didn’t exactly have the greatest start.
“The situation before the race was we were quite a few points ahead of Dylan and Stu, so it was a quite an easy start for us in the race,” said Ploessel.“
We wanted to just get in and stay calm a little bit don’t match [race] too much. Then we matched a little bit at the start, but did our own start and that was fine. It turned out that at the start there were so many boats over that it was actually over, the race for the gold medal, because Dylan could not put enough boats between us so we had a fun race.”
Heil and Ploessel crossed the line third to secure the gold. Winning the Medal Race was another German team, Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf. In fact there were a record four German teams in the Medal Race
“We are really happy that we have such a strong fleet,” said Ploessel. “It’s the first time ever that there were four boats from Germany in the Medal Race in a World Cup. It’s just better for everybody if they’re more good guys around. Everybody’s got to improve and there’s a higher chance for a medal in Tokyo.”
49er Medal Race highlights video
Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) quickly removed much of the drama from the Nacra 17 Medal Race, at least in terms of who would get the gold. In fact, the defending Olympic silver medallists took control of the race before even crossing the starting line.
“The points were almost equal,” said Waterhouse, noting that he and Darmanin started the double-points Medal Race just four points ahead of Samuel Albrecht and Gabriela Nicolino de Sá (BRA).
“We had to keep an eye on Santi Lange (ARG), but really it was almost a match race [with the Brazilian team]. I saw an opportunity where they got a little high above the start line and thought, ‘This is our chance to really sort of control them.’ We just managed to execute quite well. It’s really hard in those variable conditions because a small puff can come from anywhere and it changes the game. Lisa did a great job today keeping us going the right direction and I just focused on the competition.”
Having gained the upper hand off the line, Waterhouse and Darmanin left nothing to chance, stretching away from the fleet for a wire-to-wire win and the gold medal. Albrecht and Nicolino de Sá were third in the race to hold on to the silver while Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli were fourth and claimed bronze.
While Waterhouse still feels that the Brazilian team has an edge in light air, he is pleased with the progress he and Darmanin have made addressing one of their weaknesses.
“That’s why we’re here at the Hempel World Cup Series Miami,” he said. “It’s pretty renowned for light winds, and that’s an area we really need to improve in. We struggled at the worlds in those conditions and took a big, hard look at ourselves and said, ‘What have we got to do to get better.’ and I guess the simple answer is, find a place with light winds. No matter the result, whether we won or got 10th, the goal was to learn as much as we could by coming here. We’re surprised with the win, but we actually sailed pretty bloody well.”
In a light breeze, the RS:X is the most punishing Olympic sailing discipline to sail. Sailors will pump their sail all the way around the track to generate boat speed. With their heart rate at its limit for the entire 30 minute fleet race and 20 minute Medal Race, they must also make tactical decisions based on the wind and keep track of their competition.
When Zofia Noceti-Klepacka (POL) was caught starting early in the Women’s RS:X, the equation was at least simplified a little bit: Three women for three podium spots. The question remained, who would finish where. Yunxiu Lu (CHN) started the race in first and was determined not to let the gold slip through her fingers.
Chinese sailors swept the top three spots in the Medal Race. Hongmei Shi was first, Lu second and Rio 2016 silver medalist Peina Chen was third. But only Lu stood on the podium in Regatta Park. Katy Spychakov (ISR) won silver while Charline Picon (FRA) took bronze.
Pawel Tarnowksi (POL) took a risk at the start of the Men’s RS:X Medal Race and it cost him a spot on the podium. The Polish sailor carried a six-point lead into the Medal Race, but the 22 points he picked up from the early start allowed three sailors to slip past him in the overall standings. Bing Ye (CHN) was the primary benefactor, going wire-to-wire for the win, which ensured him the gold medal. Radoslaw Furmanski (POL) earned the sliver with Pierre Le Coq (FRA) grabbing bronze.
Ye won the world championship in the RS:X class in 2017, but struggled in the 2018 World Championships, finishing 40th. This was an impressive return to form for Ye, but he’s careful not to look too far ahead.
Laser & Laser Radial
Both the Laser and Laser Radial fleets were able to scratch and claw their way to a full series. Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) had his first bobble of the regatta, with a 30th, but rebounded with a third in the final race and will take a stunning 65-point lead into tomorrow’s Medal Race.
He has locked up gold, and by no small margin. Sam Meech (NZL) has secured silver, provided he finishes the race, while Tom Burton (AUS) will need to hold off a handful of sailors with an outside chance of winning bronze. Burton must finish fifth or better to ensure himself of a medal.
The situation isn’t much different in the Laser Radial class. Donshuang Zhang (CHN) leads Paige Railey (USA) by 13 points. Both of those sailors are assured of a medal, Zhang can do no worse than silver. Vasileia Karachaliou (GRE) is third and guaranteed at least a bronze provided she finishes the Medal Race.
The Finn class is set up for a very competitive Medal Race. No position in the top three is secure, with first through seventh mathematically alive for the gold.
The class will put the live scoring algorithm to the test tomorrow. Max Salminen (SWE) has the lead by four points over Jonathan Lobert (FRA) and eight points over Luke Muller (USA), who won today’s only race. But just three points separate Muller from Oskari Muhonen (FIN) in sixth.
The top three boats in the Women’s 470 fleet are separated by just four points, setting up an intriguing battle for the podium positions. Frekerike Loewe and Anna Markfort (GER) are currently at the top of the standings with Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) second and Fabienne Oster and Anastasiya Winkel (GER) in third. Should any of those teams falter in the Medal Race, Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan (BRA) will be eager jump onto the podium.
The nature of the Medal Race, which counts for double points and as the tiebreaker, means that any two teams within two points of one another are effectively tied. Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE) may lead the regatta by a point over Spain’s Jordi Xammar Hernandez and Nicolás Rodríguex García-Paz, but it will be a who-beats-whom battle for gold tomorrow. Naoki Ichino and Takashi Hasegawa (JPN) and Balázs Gyapjas and Zsombor Gyapjas (HUN) are tied for third and technically alive for gold. But it’s given the 14-point spread from second to third, it’s probable those latter two teams will be marking one another in the race for bronze.
Racing commences at 12:00 local time and will be available to watch on World Sailing’s YouTube and Facebook.
Full results from each class can be found here.