Wilcox holds narrow lead from Budzien with one day to go at OK Dinghy Worlds in Vallensbaek
A collective sigh of relief could be heard at Vallensbaek Sailing Club in Denmark tonight as two more races were added to the OK Dinghy World Championship to make it a valid series despite continuing light winds. Greg Wilcox (NZL) continues to lead, but now by just one point, while race wins went to Rüdiger Prinz (GER) and Jørgen Svendsen (DEN).
Another early postponement kept the sailors ashore for several hours on Friday morning. At the first sign of breeze the sailors were sent afloat only to have the breeze fade and a further postponement. However it gradually filled in at a patchy 4-6 knots and race 4 got under way under back flag with nine boats pulled out. Rüdiger Prinz (GER) found the best way up the first beat in fading winds and a strong current pushing up the course. He made a useful gap on the first reaches and was never really threatened for the lead. Winner of race 1, Bo Petersen (DEN), eventually claimed second while Juliane Hofmann (GER) sailed well to place third, the highest place lady ever in an OK Dinghy World Championship race.
During the race the wind almost faded away, making the long runs against the current painful in the pack with the enormous number of sails blanketing most of the fleet. Race five looked doubtful, however the race officer had different information and started the sequence. He was rewarded with the breeze filling in to 8-10 knots and probably the best race so far.
Jørgen Svendsen (DEN) rounded the top mark with a clear lead and was never headed. Championship leader Greg Wilcox (NZL) followed in second place but couldn't touch the faster Dane. Third place went to Stefan Myralf (DEN), who picked up a 72nd in the first race of the day, highlighting how tricky the racing was. Lots of sailors have been picking up high scores throughout the fleet.
Former world champion Roger Blasse (AUS) had an even worse day than yesterday with a 110th in race 4 and a black flag in race 5 to lie in 62nd overall. Another former world champion Mats Caap (SWE) is fairing better and is currently in 10th overall after pacing 16th and fifth today. Meanwhile defending world champion Nick Craig (GBR) is languishing in 11th overall, some 41 points behind Wilcox who retains the overall lead.
Craig commented, “The starts are really hard because the line is so square, so wherever you start you only need a three or four degree shift and you are back in the 30s. I have only rounded in the top 30 once all week so far. It seems wherever I start is the wrong place, so don't start near me, though I was going really quick. But the races have been really good and the race officer is fantastic. Without those square lines we'd never get away.”
Prinz summed up his race win, “I had some luck at the start. I was on the right hand line and there was a hole and I sailed off and could tack freely without any boats in front of me. My speed was really nice and I rounded the top mark in the lead. I was about 10 metres clear and the others were really close and they started fighting each other so I was really comfortable.”
To win a worlds race; “It's the fourth time now. And it's one of the best feelings you can have. It's really amazing to see all the boats behind you especially here with 145 boats. It's such a great feeling.”
Hofmann said, “The start was OK but you need a good slice of luck to get off that line. I was on the left line and in the middle. I went further back to the right before tacking and rounded the first mark in third. And then the wind was pretty clear, and it wasn’t that exiting as positions didn't change much in these light conditions. But it was more exhausting on the nerves to keep it going.”
Was she confident? “How can you be confident in to stay there in such a hard competition. The wind was very shifty and there were patches, but usually I can stay there as I am so light, so it's not a problem to sail through areas of less wind.” Hofmann, who has also won two races at previous European championships added,“I've worked hard for this, so I guess I deserve it.”
One of the sailors competing at his first OK Dinghy World Championship is André Budzien (GER), better known for sailing a Finn, including three Finn Masters World titles. He is currently lying in second overall, just one point behind Wilcox. Why did he decide to sail an OK Dinghy? “Last year the German championships was at my home club in Schwerin and I thought it would be fun to take part. So I borrowed a 30 year old wooden boat that I had sailed when I was very young at the start of my sailing career. I won that championship and then defended the title in a new boat in Warnemunde a few weeks back.”
Is it a long term thing for him, “My first boat will always be the Finn, but it is great to have a second class to sail so I can fit in other events around the family and the major Finn events. The OK Dinghy is a great class to sail in, very well organised and friendly.”
Overnight leader Wilcox summed up his day, “It's been pretty tough with 145 boats out there but the top guys are always there. It's always hard and largely been pretty fair, but a bit tough round some of the mark roundings with so many boats, but it's been good racing. I had a bit of luck in the first race today. I had bad start in the third row but it was at the right end and I had a bit of speed so managed to crawl my way up to 10th which was quite good. It's all about trying to keep clean and keep the speed up. In the second I had a good start and had a lot of gas off the line and motored away from those around me which gave me lots of options. But I couldn't touch Svendsen. He was just a click quicker.”
About the deciding day he said, “Tomorrow we will go sailing and have fun.”
The championship concludes Saturday when two more races are scheduled. You can follow the racing live with TracTrac as all boats are fitted with GPS trackers for the week. The direct link is: http://tractrac.com/index.php?page=eventpage&;id=233
Results after five races
1 NZL 544 Greg Wilcox 16
2 GER 762 André Budzien 17
3 SWE 100 Thomas Hansson-Mild 25
4 GER 773 Rüdiger Prinz 37
5 DEN 1393 Rene Johannsen 43
6 DEN 1377 Jørgen Holm Nielsen 47
7 DEN 1374 Bo Petersen 50
8 POL 19 Bartosz Rakocy 52
9 DEN 1410 Jens Lauge 55
10 SWE 2797 Mats Caap 59