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Great Britain, British National Championships 2014

Dabchicks Sailing Club, Mersea Island, Essex

16 - 19 August

Dabchicks Sailing Club

Jim Hunt finally secures elusive British OK Dinghy National title

Jim Hunt has finally won the British OK Dinghy National Championship after several failed attempts over the past decade. He closed out the 2014 title after two more very close and breezy races sailed in very shifty winds in the mouth of the Blackwater Estuary on Tuesday morning.

Hunt, the 2004 World Champion, had sailed a very consistent series in the 41 boat fleet, never finishing below third in any race. The fleet was also perhaps, the most competitive fleet seen in the UK for over a decade with several new sailors trying their hand at an OK Dinghy along with virtually all the top sailors in the class. During the week there were six different race winners, ensuring that the points remained tight until the very last race.

Preview by Lee Child

International OK Dinghy British Nationals title up for grabs at Dabchicks SC

Dabchicks Sailing Club on Mersea Island, Essex will play host to the International OK Dinghy National Championship from 16-19 August. It is the fourth time the club has hosted the event in the past two decades and it is lining up to be one of the most competitive class championships for many years.

The club was founded in 1911 and has developed a great reputation for running top events, as well as producing many top sailors, so the class expects some some fantastic racing over the four days next week.
With the Brits taking a bit of a beating at the European Championships three weeks ago in Steinhude at the hands of the Danes, Germans and Poles, attention now turn sharply to the National title for the UK fleet.

Former World Champion Jim Hunt, who has been consistent all season probably leads the charge. He is still seeking his first UK National title in the OK Dinghy, but he wont have it easy. Class regulars include defending champion, Robert Deaves, three times champion, Terry Curtis, 2012 champion, Lee Child and Will Turner who was 10th in Steinhude. These, and several others, may fancy their chances if they can string a decent series together in the 7 races that will count from 8.

In addition, the strong line will be joined by top talent in the form of Charlie Cumbley and Andy Couch. Couch, the current Phantom National Champion, likes the breeze, tends to go the right way uphill and could feature strongly. He finished as runner up in 2009 to Curtis, at Dabchicks. For Cumbley, it is his first OK Dinghy Nationals. He comes fresh from winning the Solo Nationals last week at Brightlingsea just 4 miles away at the other end of Mersea Island.
With 35-40 boats expected by the organisers, and with the long term forecast showing plenty of wind, the 2014 National Championship should get off to a great start. The reduced entry fee of £70 ends on Monday and thereafter goes up to just £80 for four days of racing. Dabchicks Sailing Club is famous for its great hospitality and the class is eagerly anticipating another great event both on and off the water.

Generous sponsorship has been received from sailing fitness brand Hikingbench, and OK Dinghy builder, Synergy Marine. Both companies have helped attract entries and raise the profile of the event.

Reports by Dabchicks SC

Day 1

40 OKs arrived on Saturday for Day 1 of this year’s OK Dinghy nationals at Dabchicks S.C. kindly supported by Synergy Marine, Hiking Bench and English Braids.

They were greeted by a solid westerly F3 and punchy tide. The racing was really high quality with some new faces making a welcome entry into the class.

Race 1 got away cleanly with despite a wind shift induced heavy pin-end bias and biased beat, with the fleet tacking onto port off the line for a drag race to the windward mark. Jon Fish came off the pin to lead from Jim Hunt and Will Turner at the first mark. Andy Couch (of Phantom fame) rounded 4th with reigning champ Robert Deaves and former champ Terry Curtis just behind.

Unusually, Fish managed to not swim and went on to win from Hunt. Deaves and Curtis had come through to 3rd and 4th downhill and kept these two places to the finish, with 2012 champ Lee Child pulling through the fleet to score 5th just in front of Charlie Cumbley who’s starting to get to grips with the OK (ominous).

Race 2 The second race of the day was a rather short affair with the breeze increasing to a F4 and the strong flood tide helping the tired legs up the beat. Rich Burton led from the pin end and tacked early enough to gain whilst Lee and Jim over stood the windward mark by some distance. Burt dropped down the placings on the first reach, with Fish getting through to 3rd, but with shifts and tidal variation ensuring the positions were never really settled.

Jim held the lead with ease for the rest of the race, with Lee in 2nd. Deaves came through to take 3rd up the last beat, with Curtis 4th again and Burt finishing 5th

The strong fleet is currently waiting for the breeze to moderate slightly to allow racing on Day 2 and looking forward to some blasting in the Blackwater estuary.

Day 2 - Breeze on

Photos from Hikingbench RIB

Day two of the OK Dinghy Nationals dawned with an average wind speed of 25 and gusting 32 knots which prompted a two hour postponement ashore.

The racing got underway at 14:30 with a more steady 25 knots under an incoming tide. Those who started at the pin came out smiling at the windward mark due to increased tide at the left side of the course. Will Turner led the charge with an impressive lead followed by Charlie Cumbley and Jim Hunt. A tight pack behind blasted down the reach and places 4, 5, 6 and 7 were all within two boat lengths come the very choppy gybe mark. The top 10 remained tight for all of the race considering the freshness of the breeze.

The next drama was to be had on the third lap again at the gybe mark of doom with increased pressure just as Cumbley and Turner arrived. The ‘wind over tide’ in the deepest part of the Blackwater had created a steep chop with just 3 feet between each wave making the timing of the gybe extremely difficult. They both managed to delay their gybes long enough for the gust to pass but had lost 100 yards or so over Hunt. Many a capsize were to be had here across the 40 boat fleet; Richard Burton being the highest place swimmer who went from 8th to 18th in one acrobatic move.

The lead swapped a couple of times and it ended with a photo finish and neither knowing who had won until ashore, but it was Cumbley from Turner. Jim Hunt was a solid third and Jon Fish found an extra yard of place and just took Andy Couch on the line for fourth.

The 2nd race of the day was cancelled so the fleet look forward to 3 races tomorrow with an earlier start time which combined with a hard day’s racing today might reduce the beer intake tonight.

Day 3

Hunt remains the man to beat, extending his lead today but with three different race winners so far and some still finding their feet, everything is still up for grabs.

Hunt closes in on first OK Dinghy National title Jim Hunt has taken a six point lead at the OK Dinghy National Championships after three more races in a very unstable breeze at Dabchicks Sailing Club, with just two more races to go on Tuesday to complete the series.

The fleet was sent out early in more moderate conditions for 3 races, with 3 different winners.

Race 4 started in a F3 with the bulk of the fleet taking the left route towards the tide which looked good for the first half of the beat, but ultimately a 15 degree shift right meant that side paid, and Andy Couch rounded ahead of Richard Burton and Simon Cox with Robert Deaves and Jim Hunt making the most of the left hand side.

Couch led from start to finish despite the 107 kg Burton chasing him hard. Cox and Hunt overtook Burton up the second beat, but unfortunately Cox was forced to retire injured at the end of the run, allowing Hunt to move into second before a strong finishing Burton took second at the finish. Lee Child fended off Jon Fish to take fourth.

Race 5 had the fleet split in slightly fresher breeze, with the left initially paying, but at the windward mark melee, Neil Goodhead squeezed round first from Child and a close group. Luckily no collisions occurred and the fleet set off at pace downhill.

Child pulled out into the lead which he maintained comfortably to the finish. Hunt rolled past Fish on the second reach with Terry Curtis cruising through into third with Couch in fifth. Fish found some extra pressure and pace on the beat to get back up to second although Hunt and Curtis reversed the trick on the run to finish in that order behind Child, bringing him up the rankings to second overall.

Race 6 was finally started after a general recall followed by a postponement to allow a rainstorm to blow through. The boats at the pin end looked good from the start quickly tacking onto port and crossing the fleet with Hunt leading a clutch of boats in from the left. Hunt rounded first from Child and Tony Woods. The fleet headed off down the reach in dying breeze and strong tide, Woods went high and lost out to Curtis and Charlie Cumbley. Child squeezed round the leeward mark followed by Hunt and Curtis on his transom. Cumbley hacked out right and picked up a shift taking him past Curtis. By the final beat Cumbley was on a charge but couldn’t quite get the better of Hunt who took the race and a tighter grip on the championship. Child took third with Curtis coming in fourth.

Day 4

Report Robert Deaves

Hunt took a six point lead into the final day, which again produced more wind than was forecast. Sailed on an ebb tide for the first time, in 14-18 knots, a different set of tactics were required, which along with the big shifts, brought some different faces to the front.

In Race 7 Will Turner bounced off the left hand corner to hold a huge lead at the first mark. Unfortunately he was OCS and pulled out on the second lap. The chasing pack was very tight with Jim Hunt, Terry Curtis and Jonathan Fish emerging at the end of the run in the lead, while Richard Burton inspected the bottom of his boat again after a less than successful gybe. The wind played tricks on the final beat with numerous place changes, but eventually as the fleet approached the shortened finish, Fish led across, closely followed by Andy Couch, while Curtis and Hunt couldn't be separated for third. This left Hunt in an unassailable position going into the final race.

Turner again emerged with a substantial lead from the left on the first upwind in Race 8, and held it until the end of the second upwind when the left side didn't pay so well. Meanwhile Curtis had taken the lead on the right from Hunt. Hunt led round the final downwind mark and headed right. Turner, as expected, banged hard left again and this time it worked, moving him back to the front to win the final race. Hunt led a very close group on the right across the line as the wind started playing games again, almost dropping to nothing at one point before coming back in at 15 knots as dark clouds raced down the course.

But it was all academic as Hunt was already assured the title. The only real interest was between Fish, Lee Child and Curtis over who would take the runner's up trophy. After Race 7, Fish was up to second, but a bad first beat in the final race left him too much to do. Child was always in the leading group and fourth place was enough to comfortably take the trophy. Fish had to settle for third.

Dabchicks Sailing Club had put on a superb event, which with the support of the sponsors Synergy Marine, Hiking Bench and English Braids, enabled it to provide a multitude of prizes and benefits. Vice Commodore Rachel Ramsey and her team left no stone unturned to ensure the sailors had a great time on and off the water. The racing was some of the best the class has had in the UK for a long time and bodes well for the future, and with leading sailors like Charlie Cumbley and Andy Couch joining the fleet, their attendance is sure to attract more top sailors to the OK Dinghy.

While the fleet was very pleased to welcome both Cumbley and Couch to the event in borrowed boats, they were arguably more pleased that they didn't dominate proceedings. But both so enjoyed racing the boat that they have promised to be back for more, with hopefully new boats being ordered soon.

The class is going through a period of growth in many countries, and all the signs are that the UK fleet will soon follow suit. The UK Class Association is developing an action plan to maintain and encourage this growth, with various initiatives being discussed to ensure that OK Dinghy sailing in the UK continues to thrive and remain a serious choice for top sailors who enjoy local as well as international competition.

PlSail NoHelmClubPts-1R1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8
1GBR2162Jim HuntBlithfield SC142133213.52
2GBR2167Lee ChildDabchicks SC / WMYC2552641384
3GBR2151Jonathan FishWaldringfield SC29164541918
4GBR2118Terry CurtisWeymouth/Upper Thames29.54488343.53
5GBR211Charlie CumbleyTeign Corinthian YC3569175259
6GBR2150Andy CouchRudyard Lake SC387115162526
7GBR2156Robert DeavesWaldringfield SC41339676107
8GBR2157Dave BourneUpriver YC711512710261665
9GBR2145Tony WoodsGlossop SC7110713131111910
10GBR2147Tom LonsdaleWest Oxford SC741181217109721
11GBR2042Richard BurtonOxford SC79951829211542
12GBR2169Will TurnerDabchicks SC81810242810421
13GBR2154Simon Cowood 9214141591252823
14GBR2160Alex ScolesOvery Staithe1021217111821141911
15GBR2121Tony RichWest Oxford SC1021620161616121115
16GBR2059David RoseDeben YC1121819171219231314
17GBR2126Mike EdwardsLeigh & Lowton SC113361521191472017
18GBR2084Keith ByersMorecombe & Heysham YC1161913144220151718
19GBR2100Toby RamsayDabchicks SC121241825211381819
20GBR2159Norman ByrdNorthampton SC1241726201518321612
21NZL553Finn GheuryDachet Water SC1341316192022312420
22GBR2139Ken CarrollAlton Water SC1432521262225132116
23GBR2112John Paul WilliamsWest Oxford SC1522725421424261422
24GBR2149Martin BowerBlithfield SC1672628421117202342
25GBR2123Andy TurnerOvery Staithe SC1692227422923222224
26GBR2125Neil GoodheadSouth Staffs1742929222615284225
27GBR2137Simon ShawDeben YC1813030422329182526
28GBR1957Drummond SydenhamWMYC1893132243128172929
29GBR2031Dave CooperOvery Staithe SC1982833232734422627
30GBR2093Ed CritchenUpper Thames SC2173835273335293028
31GBR2171Simon CoxWaldringfield SC2222123104242424242
32GBR2080Paul PikeCovenham SC2223534422830333131
33GBR2124Gareth CaldwellBlithfield SC2253342423027242742
34GBR2058Mary ReddyhoffParkstone YC2283742422532303230
35GBR2171XWill Branton 2354242424242421213
36GBR2065Paul AldridgeBrightlingsea SC2383431422431344242
37GBR2032Tim HurstDabchicks SC / WMYC2443236423233274242
38GBR2101Julian BurnhamRYA2542024424242424242
39GBR2158John BallBrightlingsea2552322424242424242
40GBR20Matthew CockDabchicks SC2663937423437354242
41GBR2062Simon GreeningWest Oxford SC2884242424236424242

OCS, DNC, DNF, DSQ etc: 42 Points