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40th Australian OK Dinghy Championships 2002

Easter period at Wangi on Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, just north of Sydney.

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1998 World Champion Roger Blasse won his 5th Australian Title held over the Easter period at Wangi on Lake Macquarie in New South Wales, just north of Sydney. Roger, from Victoria’s strong Black Rock Yacht Club OK fleet, won convincingly with a perfect score with his elder brother Andre Blasse finishing second.

The Australian Championships were celebrated as the 40th Anniversary of continuous class Australian Championships since 1962. Coincidently the championships also attracted 40 entries from juniors through to super veterans over 60’s.

The Easter long weekend brought out the biggest fleet for a National Championships since 1998. The fleet also boasted two former World Champions and four former National Champions. Roger Blasse followed up his good form this season after winning the Victorian State Championships and finishing top Australian at the World Championships held in New Zealand in January where he placed sixth overall.

In the increasingly competitive Veterans for the over 40’s, former World Champion (1986) Mark Fisher wrapped up back to back Championships by finishing 4th overall. Current Junior Champion James MacAllister from Wangi also picked up back to back championships. In a regatta where all major prizes went to past winners, former Australian Champion "Super” Bruce Ashton won the Super Veterans and was also the only other heat winner other than Roger, winning heat 2.

Day 1

We ventured out into a threatening southerly on Good Friday to be confronted with light and fickle breezes and lots of rain. Roger showed his versatility in the light winds to win the first heat from "Big” Brother Andre, who returned to the class after a 15-month break from sailing. Third was Mark Fisher also showing that you don’t need to be 70kg to go well in light winds in an OK Dinghy.

Back to the start line for Race 2 with still light and variable winds. Roger again showed the early pace, but an error on the third beat saw Bruce Ashton sail out to the right and around him into the lead. The wind still in the south totally crapped out and a few boats with nothing to lose went out to the left and sailed around the fleet. Leading this bunch from the back to the front was Andre Blasse and the Jackson brothers. Bruce went on to win in a strengthening nor’easter from Roger, with Andre in third.

That evening was spent firstly at the AGM, until it became apparent the small township of Wangi was about to close down and we postponed the General Business to a later date and fled to the Chinese Restaurant next door. Others had left much earlier to celebrate local Denis Gilbert’s 50th Birthday across the bay.

Day 2

Overnight the wind started to blow and the rain increased. We woke to a forecast of 25 to 35 knot southerly winds, not likely to moderate until Monday. Sure enough as we sailed out at midday for Race 3, we realised the Race Officer was determined not to let a little wind to get in the way of completing 7 races in 4 days. The wind was as forecast and a number of competitors decided the regatta was still a long way from over, and it was not worth breaking boat or body.

Local boy John MacKenzie shot out of the blocks to lead the first race. He was eventually mowed down by Roger and held second until the last tack to the finish, when Mark Jackson got through to get second, MacKenzie third. As was the case for almost everyone in the top 10, both Blasses went swimming, Roger turning it over on the first reach!

As we waited for the second race of the day, the breeze seemed to get stronger. Certainly in my experience, when you can’t sail an OK down wind without a cartwheel, it’s over 30 knots. The Race Officer put away the wind speed instrument and started the race. This time the usual heavy weather suspects led out and appeared untroubled by the conditions and led the way. Peter Horne led around the first triangle until his mast broke at deck level half way down the second reach. Blasse, Blasse and Mark Jackson 1, 2 and 3. This was the way it looked like staying until Peter Burton and Tim Davies got their gear wound up. Both Peter and Tim were sporting new New Zealand North Sails and were possibly the quickest upwind when the breeze was over 30 knots. Both got through Jackson upwind, but were caught off the wind. On the beat to the finish, Davies sailed into 3rd until the last covering tack to the finish and tipped over 200 metres to the finish. Peter Burton then made up over 50 metres to sail past Jackson into 3rd. Roger 1st Andre 2nd, Peter Burton 3rd.

Day 3

More wind from the south. As predicted, the Southerly would not moderate until Monday.

Races 5 and 6 held on Easter Sunday saw many people still shellshocked from the day before. Roger Blasse continued to put on an OK Dinghy heavy air clinic and pulled out to win both races from Andre. Andre sailed well in both races and held off Roger in Race 5 for most of the race, but Roger�s superior downwind speed continued to give him a big edge on all other racers.

In Race 6, Blasse and Blasse were well in front from the fleet, with Mark Fisher 3rd and Mark Jackson 4th until Jackson capsized in a gentle 15 knots at the end of the run. With one triangle left to sail, Fisher was third from Peter Jackson, Peter Horne and John MacKenzie. Down the reaches, Mark Jackson passed Horne, then MacKenzie, then got back to cover Fisher into the finish, expecting third. But alas, Fisher perfectly picked the correct end of the line to get 3rd by 3/100�s of a second from Mark Jackson.

Day 4

Roger Blasse had already won the regatta without having to sail the last heat. Brother Andre had second, but Fisher still had a chance for 3rd. The race was started in a gusty and sometimes dying Southerly. The Blasse brothers, Fisher and Jackson all headed right up the first beat only to be confronted with a 20-degree shift to the left. Peter Burton and Mick McQueen opened up a big lead from the left and led around the first triangle. Roger Blasse was placed in the 20�s around the first mark, but showed great down wind speed to be back to the top 10 at the bottom. Roger continued to sail brilliantly to get back to 3rd and pick up Burton and McQueen on a big shift up the 3rd beat. Justin Graham also continued to sail well through the very big changes in pressure and wind direction to be part of the top bunch.

Roger Blasse went on the win the final heat from Mick McQueen with Justin Graham holding out Peter Burton for 3rd.

Roger Blasse used a Needlespar red top with Greg Wilcox�s Worlds winning Port Nicholson sail on days one and four when the breeze was a little lighter. On days two and three he used a Gale and Rimington standard 2.2oz hard sail. Andre Blasse used an Australian made Goldspar mast and a G&R Hard Sail. On day 4 he used a Needlespar 3m. Mark Jackson used a Needlespar 3m and a standard G&R on day one and a new Gale and Rimington development sail based on the Port Nicholson Sails of current World Champion Greg Wilcox on days 2,3 and 4.

For the first time in many years, a number of different sails were seen and going fast on the racecourse. Tim Davies, Peter Burton and Nick Gray all had NZ North Sails. Stephen Bradford also had a North from the Brisbane loft, looking the same as the Auckland North. Peter Yates from Victoria also used a G&R experimental sail based on the Port Nicholson.

The next Australian Championships will be held in conjunction with the Interdominion Championships as part of Sail Melbourne at Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron at StKilda on Port Phillip Bay in Dec/Jan 2002/03. This regatta will also be used as the selection basis for the World Championships to be held in Goa, India in late March 2003.

The 2003 Nationals and Interdominions hopefully will boast prize money based on the Sail Melbourne formula and will see the first international regatta to use Carbon Masts after they have been approved by ISAF later this year. The Australian AGM has voted to make this a "carbon mast� regatta, subject to approval from the AYF. With almost 3 months between the Interdominions and Worlds in Goa, this will be an excellent opportunity for the Australians and New Zealanders to get together with development Carbon Masts and get 50 boats plus to a championship so soon after the Worlds in Napier.

Mark Jackson
National Secretary

PosBoat NameNameRegionAgeR1R2R3R4R5R6R7totdropfinalplace
AUS 678SlimeRoger BlasseVIC 12111118261
Aus 698The BeastAndre BlasseVIC 2342225205152
AUS 706For SaleMark JacksonVIC 942434154115263
AUS 670Return of the JabbaMark FisherVICvet375117374311324
AUS 644San JoseMick McQueenNSW 1716675826117445
AUS 713ArrowJustin GrahamVIC 61014810936014466
AUS 676So long and thanks for all the fishTim DaviesNSW 15118541296415497
AUS 703CorsairPeter BurtonNSWvet166123OCS1049241518
AUS 666Fakim Heez YouzlessPeter JacksonVIC 19510995177419559
AUS 704Occassional KudosRobert ChapmanNSWvet7199612151381196210
AUS 667RipsnortaJohn MackenzieNSWvet13263DNF8710108416711
AUS 683CrackerPeter Horne JnrNSW 30127DNF6612114417312
AUS 649InspirationMarc SierNSWvet1415131317111699178213
AUS 689Under SeigeNick GrayNSWvet20201712151311108208814
AUS 628Baker StreetBruce AshtonVICmast41DNSDNS21188134419315
AUS 660Beaver FeverPaul FosterNSW 832DNF1516176135419416
AUS 709PTPhil TaylorVICvet101318DNS142418138419717
AUS 692Dining with the DevilBill TylerNSWmast22823162421141282410418
AUS 711Free RadicalGlenn YatesNSWvet52126171827191332710619
AUS 636Nat-LeighEdward O'DonnellNSW 262511192014201352610920
AUS 708FrustrationChris VisickVIC 311824211919221543112321
AUS 647PhoenixBruce GallagherNSWvet363527101316231603612422
AUS 693Pale RiderRob BrownNSWvet213121DNF1122211684112723
AUS 691Or Die TryingJames McAllisterNSWjun12916DNS22DNF301714113024
AUS 695The WifePeter YatesVICvet272819142720251602813225
AUS 655PanacheDavid ColemanNSWmast342915182325271713413726
AUS 715GilbertTom PearceVICvet111725DNF2929321844114327
AUS 696Beast of BurdenLes McAllisterNSWvet231428DNS2631372004115928
AUS 584Voodoo LoungeStephen BradfordNSW 182231DNF3228292014116029
AUS 631A Penguin goes WooshPeter WallaceNSWvet292420DNF3526282034116230
AUS 625The FoxDavid SwalesNSWmast323822222823382033816531
AUS 646PhantomMike WalkerNSWmast282329233438332083817032
AUS 615Token GestureRichard FurneauxVICvet2434DNFDNS2532242214118033
AUS 43Cookie MonsterJohn MillsSAvet333332203034342163418234
AUS 671WhiskerKevin KnottSAvet253933DNS3130262254118435
AUS 637Scoop full of JellybeansPeter BluntNSWmast353030DNF3333362384119736
AUS 621SpookDenis GilbertNSWvet3727DNFDNS3737312514121037
AUS 620Inside RunningCraig McQueenNSW 3936DNSDNS3635352634122238
AUS 639Shadow of SunsetAlan RayfieldNSWvet3837DNSDNS3839402744123339
AUS 500Purple PatchSteffan FrerichsGER / SAjun4040DNSDNSDNF36392784123740