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Sail Melbourne 2012

Sandringham Yacht Club, Melbourne, 6.-8. December 2012

Event Website

Report by Bruce Ashton

Sail Melbourne this year was going to be (according to the organisers) a smaller version of the last .

This was thought due to it being the first event of the season after an extraordinary Olympic year with most Olympic sailors very tired after long campaigns .

Not a chance , there were 23 nations , 23 classes , 400 sailors , and the media was ever-present and the event was an absolute showcase of sailing and its many and varied classes .

There were many invited classes other than the Olympic ones and the OK Dinghies were one of them.

We had three days of racing starting on Thursday and finishing on Saturday .

There were 16 OK entries and our program was for 6 races with two races per day . The OK entries were down because the sailing started midweek and time off work was going to be problem .

The OKs sailed on Course A which , as it happened was reasonably close to Black Rock YC , and about half the fleet chose to sail from there , while the rest sailed out of the main base of Sandringham YC which is about 3 kilometres to the north .

Race 1 (Thursday) was up for grabs , it was light , shifty , about 6 to 10 knots , overcast with shifts of about 15 degrees making it very hazardous to go very far from the middle of the course . The start was a cracker with everyone on the line at the gun with their wicks turned up and speed on . I was deaf for about a minute as the starter used a 12 bore shotgun to signal the start . I checked my sail to see if there were any buckshot holes . With a slight pin bias to the line and such a good even start it was a drag race to the left to get room to tack back to the middle of the course to work the shifts . Roger was first to the top mark with Brent , Steve , Bruce a touch behind . Steve was still third at the end of the triangle . The places remain pretty much the same up the second work . Down the run to the downwind finish the fleet spreads laterally for some inspiration and maybe some stronger gusts with Brent showing how good the Icebreaker is in these conditions . Roger wins with Bruce , Brent , Steve , Gary , Richard , George, Ron , Tom rounding out the first nine .

Race 2 on the same day , with the same conditions , that is , it was light , a little fluke , shifty with smallish waves that made the boat move seductively and beautifully under the guidance of the helm. Yet another good start with everyone on the line . A slight wind shift to the right at the start made the committee boat end the favoured place to be . Another drag race on starboard on the lifted tack ensued for a fair distance . Dougie , who had started really well , right on the boat end , on the lifted tack , hit the lead . Further up the course it was Roger again ahead at the top , with Bruce , Brent and then Ron in that order . This order remained unchanged until the top mark where the first and second swapped places . Downwind to the finish the leaders were thinking of speed in soft conditions while those further back were thinking of beers in the bar at the Sandringham YC . The finishing order was Bruce , (by half the length of a short sandwich) from Roger , Dougie , Ron (with one of the oldest boats in the fleet ), Brent , Steven , Tom , Richard and George rounding out the top nine .

Race 3 (Friday) Clear sky , a gorgeous 10 to 12 knot breeze from the south east , this time , after checking the breeze and sailing for a good half hour upwind I can find very little in the way of shifts . There were small shifts about , and they were about 5 degrees at most , but unless you were vigilant you could miss them very easily . However there was much less danger leaving the fleet a little in search of better air on the upwind legs .

Once again a pretty good start and another drag race on starboard . There appeared to be slightly more wind to the right as the starboard tackers came back across the fleet they were slightly ahead . At the top mark it was Roger , Brent , Bruce , Tom , Steven , Dougie , Ron in that order . At the bottom mark after two reaches the order was Roger , Bruce , Brent . At the finish it was Roger , Bruce , Brent just in front of Tom , Steven , Dougie , Ron , Gary .

Race 4 (Friday) The conditions were pretty much the same as race 3 with possibly slightly less wind than before and now everyone was in the groove with their sail settings sorted . The starter had taken pity on us and had stowed the shotgun away . We were now free to start near the committee boat and not suffer ear damage in the quest for a good start . Not many of us did start there however as the pin end was slightly favoured and we were still getting over the psychological shell shock pain of the previous day . Light but sparkling sailing conditions saw Roger again first at the top mark with Bruce , Brent , Ron , Tom and Steven rounding thereafter . Extreme concentration is required on the reaches in these conditions but no one could narrow the gap to Roger . Back at the top mark once more it was Bruce , Roger, Ron (who had made up good ground ), Brent , Dougie to name a few . At the finish (with only the other half of that short sandwich between them) it was Bruce and Roger then came a fast finishing Dougie then Ron and Brent .

Race 5 Saturday . Wind was from the North blowing about 20 to 30 knots blustery , shifty and a bit dangerous . Just about all you would expect from a stonking breeze from that direction .

The OK course (which included on this day , other invited classes as well) was shifted to the north of Sandringham YC .This was done for safety reasons for all classes , also to allow the kite boards more room and to allow the medal races for the Olympic Classes to proceed at a location adjacent the Sandringham Club for viewing purposes by the general public . This meant that the OK fleet that had used Black Rock YC as a base now had to sail about 4 kilometres north in really tough conditions just to reach the start line . This was pretty hard on boats masts sails and skippers . All those who sailed from Black Rock made it on time to the start , then sailed two races and then sailed back to Black Rock . I did not sail in these difficult conditions so my report is a little sketchy .

The course was a windward and return (with gate) , of two laps with a downwind finish . The course was set reasonably close to shore and there were short steep waves and squally wind bullets to contend with . Generally the boat end was favoured and mostly it paid to go right when going to windward to get into smoother water nearer the shore . Roger , Mark , Brent , Chris were the major placings for Race 5 .

Race 6 was the same tough conditions and course as Race 5 . This time the finishing order was Roger , Brent , Mark , Gary in the major placings .

Roger finished on top with four wins and two seconds showed why he is generally regarded as the most complete OK sailor in the Australian fleet today . His performances in the light were the equal or better than the light weather specialists and he dominated the fleet in the heavy conditions . Brent came through in second place and showed great consistency in broad range of conditions .

After the presentation ceremonies which followed the last of the Medal races for the Olympic Classes the weather changed dramatically . It had been blowing 20 to 30 knots from the north .

There was a clear air change and the wind swung abruptly to the South and increased to 45 knots . We all knew that it was coming and the entire event had run its course and it was just excellent timing all round .

Sail Melbourne 2012 - Results
1Roger BlasseAUS 749121211 86
2Brent WilliamsAUS 754353532 2116
3Bruce AshtonAUS 7282121DNCDNC 4023
4Gary LokumAUS 7415108964 4232
5Richard FurneauxAUS 694689855 4132
6Douglas ParkerAUS 752DNF363DNF7 5336
7Stephen MooreAUS 7554657DNCDNC 5639
8Ronald FergussonAUS 6188474DNFDNC 5740
9Tom PearceAUS 7379746DNCDNC 6043
10Mark JacksonAUS 735DNCDNCDNCDNC23 7356
11Chris VisickAUS 758DNCDNCDNCDNC46 7861
12Slava UstovytskyiAUS 717DNC111010DNCDNC 8265
13George SolonariAUS 70279DSQDSQDNCDNC 8467