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Australian National Championship 2012

International OK Dinghy celebrates 50 Years of National Championships

Adelaide Sailing Club, Adelaide, SA, 4.-10. January 2012

Photos on Picasaweb

Report by Mark Roberts

International OK Dinghy celebrates 50 Years of National Championships

Commencing tomorrow, Adelaide Sailing Club will host the 50th Australian National Championship for the International OK Dinghy.

To commemorate this important event, OK sailors from around Australia have assembled to do battle in what is shaping up to be an interesting week. With 40 degree temperatures in Adelaide over the past few days, a southerly change expected to arrive later today or tomorrow will bring a welcome change and hopefully the south westerly swell and strong sea breezes which Adelaide is most renowned for.

While 10 times national winner and former world champion, Roger Blasse, will not be sailing, a very strong fleet will be vying to win the famous trophy, including defending back to back champion from Victoria, Michael Williams, and fellow Australian champions Mark Jacksons (2003) and Bruce Ashton, who in fact won his second of two Australian championship in Adelaide back some 32 years ago. Joining them is International OK Dinghy President, ISAF measurer and multiple Australian Champion, Andre Blasse, who first won the championship in 1993 and has since taken the title a further three times, with the last being in 2009.

What makes this class a true enigma is the longevity of those who sail the OK. Bill Tyler is in Adelaide competing at his 32nd nationals. Bill is 70+ years and is showing few signs of slowing down, although he does threaten to hang up the sailing boots each year. The Blasse brothers and Bruce Ashton have all surpassed 25 national appearances, as has Adelaide paediatrician, Dr David Ketteridge.

Added to the longevity of those competing is the ability of the OK to cater to sailors of all shapes, sizes and levels of fitness by virtue of the rig set up and in particular, the use of carbon fibre masts, with most being purpose built by CTech (NZ) to each sailor’s weight and sailing style. This evolution, away from aluminium masts, has allowed the OK to foster equality such that the Dr Ketteridges of this world at 60 something kgs (when wringing wet) and Bruce Ashton (not much more) remain competitive in most conditions even when matched up against the likes of Michael Williams and Andre Blasse, who both weigh in at around the 100+ kg. It is perhaps this factor above all that continues to keep the OK faithful coming back year after year and it is that which is also causing new sailors of all ages to move into a class where they can be instantly competitive and be surrounded by a group only too willing and happy to help out where required.

After a practice race on 3 January, the first full day of racing will commence on 4 January, with the first gun at 1pm.

International OK President Andre Blasse shows early form

In a building 8-10 knot southerly, a fleet of 27 OKs ventured out onto St Vincent’s Gulf, South Australia for their traditional practice race for the International OK Dinghy Australian Championship.

In near picture perfect conditions, the fleet was sent on a triangle windward return course by PRO, Malcolm Hughes.

A bit of local knowledge was evident early with local Adelaide sailors Todd Hughes, Mark Roberts and Brent Williams first, second and third respectively around the windward mark. It was not long though before former Australian champions Andre Blasse, Mark Jackson and Mike Williams started to make their way through the pack and by the end of the triangle were well in contention.

As the breeze started to built to a more constant 13-16 kts the race between the front markers continued with frequent position changes. Ultimately it was Andre Blasse who was able to prevail over last year’s champion Mike Williams with Todd Hughes third, Mark Jackson fourth and Mark Roberts rounding out the top five.

The sailors return to the beach was greeted with a welcome function at the picturesque Adelaide Sailing Club.

Tomorrow the regatta starts with in earnest the first two races of the International OK Dinghy Australian Championship kicking off at 1pm.

Magnificent sailing for the OK dinghies at Nationals in Adelaide

The past two days has seen some of the best sailing conditions seen for some time in an OK National Championship.

With temperatures finally abating from the 40 degree oven-like conditions experienced earlier in the week, the first day of racing brought tough 20-25 kt sailing.

While some of the fleet found the steep southerly waves extremely challenging, sailors from Black Rock and Adelaide Sailing Clubs, more used to the big surf, appeared to relish the conditions. With neither side really favoured in the first race, Andre Blasse was able to best master the conditions to record his first win for the championship over Mike Williams, Mark Jackson and Brent Williams.

By the start of race two, the left had become heavily favoured and those able to get to the pin were able to take full advantage. With the wind also reducing to a more manageable 17-22 kts, Mark Jackson was proving to be extremely quick, as was fellow former Australian Champion from 1979, Bruce Ashton. While deep early in the race, by the final windward work Andre Blasse had managed to work his way back through the fleet to finish a very respectable third. Mister consistency, Mike Williams, again finished third, with the win going to Mark Jackson.

Day two of the championship brought similar conditions to day one, with one exception - better surfing conditions! With a second day of gradient southerly breezes, the OKs loved the 15-20 kts. With friendlier conditions, the racing was also much closer with the top ten shadowing each other at times around much of the course. Ultimately though Mike Williams proved to the be quickest and was a well deserved winner of race 3, followed very closely by Mark Jackson, Tim Davies, Andre Blasse, Brent Williams and Mark Roberts.

The second race of day two of the championship saw an increase in the wind to 17-22 kts. Again Mike Williams proved to be untouchable at the front with only Andre Blasse truly able to challenge. The racing immediately behind was extremely close with Mark Jackson, Tim Davies and Mark Roberts swapping regularly positions for third, fourth and fifth with those 3 ultimately finishing the day in the same order.

The racing continues today with a further scheduled 2 races albeit with the conditions proving very uncertain at the time of writing this report.

International OK Dinghy Australian Championship - Hughes dominates day 3

Well what a difference a day can make!

Having sailed the past two days in big southerly breezes of 20-25 kts and waves to match, day three of the championship showed little promise of producing any breeze whatsoever. With the BOM forecast 'predicting' a breeze from about ever possible point of the compass during the course of the day, PRO Malcolm Hughes decided to hold the fleet on shore to see what might develop. After not more than an hour waiting around a gentle breeze of 5 knots began to develop out of the south west.

The conditions on the water proved to be extremely fickle with the breeze shifting between 5 and 20 degrees without apparent rhyme or reason. While these conditions were despised by the big men of the fleet who had dominated the first two days, they were relished by the 'light weights'.

Ultimately it was Adelaide local and former Laser SASI sailor, Todd Hughes, who was able to best master the conditions recording two bullets for the day. In race 5 he was followed by Mark Jackson in second, another Adelaide local, Brent Williams, in third and 1979 National Champion winner, Bruce Ashton. Race 6 had Bruce Ashton second, Brent Williams third and last year’s champion, Mike Williams in fourth.

The event is being hosted by the Adelaide Sailing Club, South Australia, with the final day of racing January 8.

Tic-tac-toe three in a row for Mike Williams at the OK Nationals

For a third year in a row Geelong based sailor, Mike Williams, has won the Australian Championship of the International OK Dinghy class held in Adelaide. It is a feat that has only happened three other times in the 50 year history of the class with Williams joining an elite group including Bill Bell, Glen Collins and Roger Blasse (who having won the championship an unprecedented 10 times, amazingly won five of those championships back to back).

After a difficult day 3 of the championship, the OK fleet were met on the final day of the championship with a 17-22 kt north westerly (with the BOM forecast predicting thunderstorms and 30-35 kts later in the day).

What was to make the final day of racing even more interesting was the fact that only four points separated the top three with former national champion from 2003, Mark Jackson, only a single point behind in second and multiple national champion, Andre Blasse, a further three points back in third.

With a stronger tidal influence than in previous days and perhaps an overly eager few, PRO Malcolm Hughes decided to pull out the black after the first general recall. The fleet got away cleanly and thereafter Michael Williams showed early dominance in upwind speed to be the first to the windward mark followed closely by Andre Blasse, Mark Jackson and Todd Hughes. The rest, as they say, was history, with Williams increasing his lead throughout the balance of the race to record his third bullet for the regatta and to take the coveted national championship. He was closely followed by Blasse and Hughes with Jackson fourth, but doing enough to retain second overall and two points ahead of Blasse.

In accepting the national champions trophy, a humble and emotional Williams recounted that he had started sailing OK Dinghys 20 years earlier as a teenager when he had first met and subsequently forged a strong relationship with fellow Black Rock sailors Andre Blasse, his brother, Roger, Peter Milne and Mark Jackson, who had gone on to coach Williams during a Finn campaign in 2008. He thanked them for their ongoing support and friendship and for the fantastic competition that had continued between them for so many years after.

A well deserved Brent Williams was the winner of the Patrick Whittington Handicap Trophy having sailed an excellent regatta to finish in fourth. Andre Blasse was unanimously elected as a life member of the Australian association for his many years of dedication to the national body.

The Australian Association thanks its sponsors Zhik, Icebreaker Boats and Binks Marine for their support in holding this event.

Australian National Championship 2012 - Results
#SailnoBoat nameNameClubtot-1R7R6R5R4R3R2R1
1730Time MachineMichael WilliamsBRYC11.
2735TBAMark JacksonBRYC15.
3729Knot 4 SailAndre BlasseBRYC17.
4754Gunboat DiplomatBrent WilliamsASC26.
5739Dont Poke the BearTodd HughesASC29.
6732Dune BuggyTim DaviesWASC30.
7750Broken ArrowPeter RobinsonDSC44.
8747JumboMark Roberts46.
9728BowfingerBruce AshtonBRYC53.
10719Dilligaf IIGlenn WilliamsBRSC58.
11734Cracked PeckerEdward O'DonnellWANGI62.
12741Turkish DelightGary LokumBRYC64.010.028.0O20.
13725Joan's RespiteDavid Ketteridge67.
14727Tight SqueezeDonald WilliamsBRYC76.
15744BonecrusherAndrew BakerBRYC84.
16610OopsFolkert JanssenSGYC90.
17694DiogenesRichard FurneauxBRYC94.
18755Grey MatterStephen MooreSYC107.
19752MercuryDouglas ParkerBRYC108.
20660The WifeJake O'DonnellWANGI117.
2125Purple PatchKevin Knott118.
22640Danish BluePeter Neilsen123.
23751True BlueWilliam TylerDSC144.028.0S18.022.028.0F20.028.0F28.0F
24706Smoke on the waterErik ThompsonBRYC155.
25672Fossil FuelMichael Collins159.028.0C22.025.028.0C28.0C28.0C28.0C
26508d'accordWilliam VilletHYC163.028.0F25.026.028.0F28.0F28.0F28.0F
27684BilboGlenn YatesWASC168.028.0C28.0C28.0C28.0C28.0C28.0F28.0F