54th International OK Dinghy Australian National Championships

by Brent Williams

 

The 54th Australian National Championships for the International OK Dinghy were held at the Adelaide Sailing Club over 4 – 8 January 2016. A relatively small but competitive fleet of 22 entrants from 4 states - Quuensland, Victoria, NSW and South Australia - turned up to contest the event over 10 programmed races in what turned out to be champagne Adelaide Sailing conditions. Two races were planned for each day with the first race to commence at 1pm when the winds were likely to be the most stable. The Adelaide Saining Club has a very experienced race management team and with PRO Malcolm Hughes in charge it promised to be an excellent week of close racing.

This regatta saw the return of former World OK Dinghy Champion Mark Fisher who last sailed an OK 12 years ago in the National Championships at Airlie Beach. Others returning to the fleet after a few years’ break were Robert “Bundy Bob” Buchanan and Stephen Wilson. Welcome back!

Monday - Races 1 and 2

Race 1 started in a 10-15 knot south-easterly with big shifts accompanying wind lines off the shore. Eddie O’Donnell jumped out to an early lead on the first beat which he held on to until the last windward leg. A strong right-hand shift early in the beat drew Eddie to the right-hand side of the course only to be undone by an even bigger left-hander which was well picked by Peter Robinson who went on to a well-deserved win. Mark Jackson and Brent Williams also picked up the late shift and edged out Eddie for 2nd and 3rd.

Race 2 saw the wind dropping and shifting to the south on the first beat which was well picked by local Laser sailor Sean Homan who lead around the top mark by a good margin. Mark Jackson sailed through the fleet to secure his first victory of the week followed by Mark Roberts and Elizabeth Williams.

Tuesday - Races 3 and 4

Tuesday saw Adelaide sailing conditions at their finest. Race 3 started in a 12-14 knot south westerly which gradually built through the afternoon. A standard sunny sea breeze day. Eddie O’Donnell proved his early form from day one was no fluke when he again jumped out to an early lead, showing great speed and height upwind and down, he was closely chased by Brent Williams and Mark Jackson who couldn’t quite make up the ground. Sadly for Eddie he had jumped out too early and was OCS so the win went to Brent, second to Mark and Steve Wilson took 3rd in a great result for his first championship regatta in a few years.

Race 4 was sailed in a building sea breeze of 16-18 knots which showed just how devastatingly fast Mark Jackson can sail an OK in these conditions. The first leg was closely contested with Mark leading around the top mark closely followed by Brent and Folkert Janssen who was relishing the stronger breeze. Mark then put on a first class lesson on sailing downwind and broke away to a lead that was not going to be closed. Brent sailed on to 2nd and Folkert 3rd with Tim Davies putting his best race in to date with a 4th.

Wednesday Race 5

Race 5 was again sailed in a building south west sea breeze but this time in a solid 20-25 knots which tested the competitor’s fitness and skill. Brent led the fleet on the first leg closely followed by Mark Jackson and Steve Wilson. After a blistering two reaches Mark passed Brent to lead at the bottom, but the places swapped again with Brent showing better upwind speed to lead by inches around the top mark. A swim on the run put paid to Brent’s challenge and Mark went on to record another well-deserved first followed by Steve Wilson in 2nd and Glenn Williams in 3rd.

With the wind now averaging over 25 knots PRO Malcolm Hughes called it a day and the fleet headed to shore for an early beer.

Thursday - Races 6 and 7

Thursday would see the completion of the 6th race required to make the series and see the drop come in to play. With several competitors looking to make their move and see the back of a poor race this was make or break day!

Race 6 started in a moderate breeze of 10 - 12 knots from the south with all the signs of a sea breeze building through the afternoon. With this in mind many of the fleet kept right of centre on the first beat looking for a right hand swing. This was not to be and there was a large shift to the left with Tim Davies benefiting the most, leading well round the top mark and holding on throughout the race for a well-deserved win. Mark Jackson worked back through the fleet for 2nd and Eddie O’Donnell again showed good speed in this breeze to take 3rd.

By the time of the start of race 7 the south west sea breeze had set in and the fleet again enjoyed champagne sailing conditions with a steady lightly oscillating 16-18 knot wind with a building sea. Mark Jackson was again out fast and again showed his speed downwind to set up another win for the series. Folkert Janssen took second and Brent 3rd.

So going into the last day with the drop in play Mark Jackson held an almost unassailable lead on 8 points clear ahead of Brent on 18 points. Peter Robinson, with a 4th place in race 7, held 3rd overall on 30 points but with Steve (31), Eddie (33) and Tim (34) all within 4 points the competition for a podium finish was an for the last day.

Friday - Races 8 and 9

If it wasn’t so nice the weather risked becoming boring with the 5th day in a row of beautiful sailing conditions. Mid 20s temperature, fine and sunny and a building sea breeze forecast for the afternoon. The fleet left the shore with Mark and Brent looking for one good race to secure their spots and a dogfight shaping for 3rd overall.  Race 8 was again sailed in a moderate south westerly of 14-16 knots and Mark secured the regatta with another finely sailed race win. Peter Robinson rose to the occasion and sailed a great race for 2nd closely followed by Tim in 3rd who kept his chances of a podium finish alive. Eddie (7th) and Steve (10th) faded a bit in this race and barring some unusual events in the last race were rueing lost chances.

Race 9 was almost a carbon copy of the previous day with Mark winning yet again and Folkert and Brent engaging in a race long dog fight for 2nd and 3rd. Rounding the last bottom mark side by side Folkert showed his speed in the rising 18 knot breeze and pulled away for 2nd with Brent 3rd. In the battle for the podium Tim closed the gap with a 4th but Peter held on to 6th place in the race to keep his lead on Tim.

So after 9 races sailed in beautiful conditions under the excellent race management of Malcolm Hughes and his team Mark Jackson won his 5th Australian Championship and his fourth in a row. A well-deserved victory for Mark who has been sailing at the top of his game for many years now. Brent Williams secured 2nd and Peter Robinson 3rd overall, for both their best results in an Australian Championship regatta. Tim Davies won the Patrick Whittington trophy in recognition of steadily improving results across the week.

Next year the fleet will gather at Drummoyne Sailing Club in Sydney for the 54th Australian Championships.

Top 5 Equipment

Place

Sail No

Skipper

Hull

Mast

Sail

1

AUS735

Mark Jackson

Jason King Delfs

C-Tech

Turtle

2

AUS754

Brent Williams

Icebreaker

C-Tech

Turtle

3

AUS750

Peter Robinson

Icebreaker

C-Tech

Turtle

4

AUS739

Tim Davies

Icebreaker

C-Tech

North NZ

5

AUS734

Eddie O’Donnell

Jason King Delfs

C-Tech

North NZ

 

Series results:

http://www.topyacht.net.au/results/adelaidesc/2016/events/oknats/champs/SGrp7.htm




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