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World Championship 2005

Skælskør, Denmark

July 23th - 30th

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Reports by Robert Deaves

Day 1, Monday 25 July

'Very, very tricky day'
The 2005 OK Dinghy World Championship opened in Skælskør in Denmark today with two testing races in a range of conditions and frequent use of the black flag. Overnight leader Nick Craig (GBR) described the day as 'very,very tricky' with a strong current flowing up the course causing a large number of general recalls and the many windshifts causing postponments while the course was reset.

Yesterday's pactice race was sailed in all together different conditions. Only 17 boats finished the long course with most of the leaders dropping out before the finish. The windy and rough conditions proved ideal for Ulf Brandt (DEN) who won from Greg Wilcox (NZL) and Roger Blasse (AUS).

With the imposing eastern section of the Storebælt Bridge dominating the horizon to the north, the race area was set in the Agerso Sund, between the island of Egholm and Skælskør Fjord.

Today, the morning conditions were more sedate with a gentle 6 knots blowing and scatterd showers which reduced visibility. However the fleet had to wait for well over an hour before getting away for the first start after a number of general recalls and several changes in wind direction. When the fleet finally started the wind had increased to a good Force 3-4. Five boats were black flagged including Andre Blasse (AUS) who had scored a pair of them before the day was out.

The port biased start line proved very tricky with Jon Fish (GBR) coming out from the pin with speed to lead round the top mark. The strong current favoured those on the left and Fish led from Nick Craig (GBR) and Steve McDowell (NZL). Craig and McDowell moved passed Fish on the reaches, opened up a good lead and started a tacking duel on the next beat. McDowell was ahead at the final leeward mark but Craig realed him in to take the first win of the week. The chasing Pack was led by Roger Blasse (AUS) and Jonas Quist (SWE). Andre Blasse finished fifth but was scored BFD.

The second race of the day was started in less wind, again after a number of general recalls and changes in wind direction. Again the black flag had its victims, again Andre Blasse, but also Jonas Quist and two others. Also again there was a port biased line with a port tack biased beat. Mogens Johansen used his light weather boatspeed to great effect to round the top mark first ahead of Nick Craig and Steve McDowell. There followed two very long offwind legs against the current which saw large place changes as sailors misjudged it and were swept off the layline.

On the second beat the 2002 World Champion Greg Wilcox (NZL), who had moved up to third on the reaches, tacked off to the left first to find a 40 degree shift. Taking the lead he led to the finish followed by Johensen, Craig and Sönke Behrens (GER). However, on the final beat Behrens moved up to second to be followed by Craig and Johansen. Pawel Pawlaczyk (POL) sailed a good race to finish fifth while Roger Blasse got out of jail on the 40 degree shift to finished sixth.

After the long day at sea - the sailors were on the water for some seven and a half hours for just two races, Wilcox commented, "Today was hard, and one thing is for sure, this is going to be a high scoring regatta. However Danish hospitality is living up to expectations." The sailors are all located at the local school with the boatpark on the grass in front of the rooms. Free beer is provided when coming ashore and the nice town of Skælskør is just a short walk down the road.

Day 2, Tuesday 26 July

Nick Craig (GBR) extends his lead
Conditions once again proved tricky for day 2 of the OK Dinghy World Championship in Skælskør, Denmark with wins for Jonas Quist (SWE) and Nick Craig (GBR).

With another change in the weather, the fleet was greeted by warm sunshine and a light north-westerly wind from the direction of the Storebælt Bridge. The fleet got away first time with most sailors favouring the left hand side of the course where the stronger current and greater pressure allowed Nick Craig (GBR) to round first followed by Jonas Quist (SWE) and Jesper Petersen (DEN).

On the reaches Craig sailed low and was rolled by both Quist and Petersen, but these three broke away from the pack. On the next beat the pressure died even more to leave a very patchy and fitful wind. Oliver Gronholtz (GER) banged in a right hand corner to lead briefly and at the next mark it was Quist followed by Gronholtz and Craig.

The final beat was even worse with barely enough wind to fill the sails. Quist extended his lead to win, but Craig just failed to overtake Gronholtz near to the line. Petersen sailed hard right and nearly got to the front, but just missed the bus.

Jonas Quist has returned to competitive sailing after nearly 10 years doing other things. After following the Optimist, Europe, Laser route - and getting into the top five Lasers in Sweden - he turned to coaching, but is really enjoying sailing the OK, with this championship being only his third regatta in the class. He started with a "not very good" result at the first Swedish qualifier in April, returned to win the Nodic Championships in May and now has won a race at the World Championship. He says, " My rig was a bit too stiff in the breeze today, as I have lost some weight since starting. However if the wind stays at around 4-6 metres per second, then I think I can do OK. I am happy with my downwind technique but am having some upwind boatspeed problems. Also I was having trouble getting a good start, and yesterday's black flag did not help, but today was better. Otherwise I am pretty pleased with my perfromance so far." Quite! Not bad after just 6 months in the class and not sailing competitively since 1996.

After a wait of over an hour for the wind to fill it the fleet started race 4 on a heavily port biased line that made the pin end boat crew wished they had brought some artillery along to repel boarders! However Jørgen Lindhardtsen, Craig, Quist and Jon Fish (GBR) tacked out of the carnage to lead up the first beat into a large shift. Craig just led from Lindhardtsen round the top mark followed by Quist and Fish. Craig again sailed some first class offwind legs to let both Quist and Lindhardtsen through.

By now the breeze had increased to force 3 and was still building. Craig pased Lindhardtsen and set off in pursuit of Quist. However on the run, Quist showed his potential by pulling away with Craig fending off Lindhardtsen. Meanwhile Hans Elkjær (SWE) had an amazing leg to move up to fourth.

The final beat proved decisive for Craig as the breeze increased to force 4 he overtook Quist with a combination of superior boatspeed and correctly nailing the final few shifts to take his second race win of the week. Lindhardtsen finsihed third with Fish recovering well to fourth - but a later disqualification gave fourth place to Elkjær.

After four races, Craig is the clear leader, although with the discard taking effect after race 5 race tomorrow, his lead may not be so large. Tonight the local organisers have arranged a match racing competition inside the fjord with a prize of half the winner's weight in beer. Needless to say, each country has ensured its heaviest sailor represents them!

Day 3, Wednesday 27 July

"One of the best day's racing I've ever had."
Greg Wilcox (NZL) moves up to third position with two first places today, although two second places for Nick Craig (GBR) has extended his lead after 6 races. With the discard kicking in today, Jonas Quist (SWE) moves up to second after dropping his black flag disqualification on day 1.

A north-westerly breeze and brilliant sunshine greeted the fleet for day 3 of the OK Dinghy World Championship at Skælskør in Denmark with another day of patchy, testing winds that saw many high profile casualities picking up high scores.

Race 5 got underway in a force 2-3 with most of the favourites sailing up the left side of the course. Steve McDowell (NZL) led round the first mark followed by Roger Blasse (AUS), Greg Wilcox (NZL) and Nick Craig (GBR). The left was favoured again on the second beat with Craig and Wilcox pulling ahead and building a gap on the fleet. Craig briefly moved into the lead on the run but round the last leeward mark Wilcox tacked for the left again while Craig covered the majority up the middle. Wilcox proved right and won the race by some 20 seconds from Craig and Blasse. The final beat saw a 30 degree shift to the left, leaving many boats on the right and middle counting more boats than expected.

After being DSQ'd by the jury for hitting a mark yesterday and picking up an OCS in the second race today, Jon Fish (GBR) is still celebrating his win at last night's unofficial ´┐ŻOK World Match Racing Championship', sailed in the enclosed waters off the school where the regatta has been hosted and just across from the Harboe brewery which has kindly sponsored the OK Worlds and generously provided the match racing prize of half the winner's body weight in beer. Four windward-leeward races were sailed with two countries eliminated at each round. The final saw Fish against Janusz Stobinski (POL), with Fish inflicting two penalities before the start. However it was all over by the first leeward as the Pole capsized to leave Fish the proud winner of over 120 cans of Harbroe beer - a small consolation.

Race 6 was sailed in similar conditions to race 5, with the wind continually flicking left and several corner bangers making massive gains. Craig started mid line and came out on the first shift to lead up the middle. He rounded the top mark just ahead of Jonus Quist (SWE) and Wilcox. At the bottom mark Quist was right behind Craig and these two sailed to the left while Wilcox caught up some distance finding pressure to the right. On the run Quist again showed devastating speed to close right up on Craig and the two became inseparable up the final beat.

Locked in a tack for tack battle, Craig never let up, but Wilcox, allowed to sail his own race, went right, although he initially looked in a poor position,100 metres down on the leaders. However a last minute shift from the right brought him back between Craig and Quist to tack for the line and win his second race of the day by less than half a boatlength.

Before this regatta, Wilcox had only ever won one OK World Championship race, and that was the clinching race in the 2002 World Championship, which won him the world title. This week, Wilcox has already notched up three race wins, and is ready for more. He said, "After the race win in Napier 3 years ago, this is the best day's racing I have ever had. You can't ask for better than winning two World Championship races on the same day."

Taking about the racing so far he continues, "However, it's like a minefield out there with holes and shifts and pressure coming in from all directions. But I think I'm doing well because I am being allowed to sail my own race and haven't got sucked into playing games with other boats. Nick is proving very consistent with top 3 every race so far which is incredible in conditions like these."

With six races down, there are still four to go and in the challenging winds off Skælskør Fjord, there is still a long way to go.

Day 4, Thursday 28 July

Danish charge on day five of the OK Worlds
The seventh race for the 2005 OK World Championship was a Danish benefit with four home boats leading the fleet home. Series leader Nick Craig (GBR) finished fifth just ahead of his main rivals Jonus Quist (SWE) and Greg Wilcox (NZL).

Sailors were today greeted by a complete change of scenery with the wind having clocked 180 degrees overnight to come off the shore, bringing with it the pleasant smell of the uncovered rocks and seaweed.

With the most consistent breeze of the week so far, the fleet got away first time. Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) started at the pin end with Peter Wibro (DEN) and Mogens Johansen (DEN). Half way up the first beat it was clear that the left hand side was favoured with Johansen sailing the furthest left before tacking.

Those who did sail to the left hand corner had a fine view of the Danish Crown Prince's yacht, which was in attendence for the Dragon invitational trophy being sailed just downwind of the OK course area.

At the first mark Johansen lead from Wibro, Lindhardtsen and Robert Deaves (GBR). The chasing pack was led by Ulf Brandt (DEN). The series leaders were all buried in the mid teens. Nothing much happened on the offwind legs and the following beat was much the same with the four leading boats exchanging places until the top mark again. Wibro just slipped round ahead, with Brandt still in fifth.

Again the run was uneventful, except that Nick Craig (GBR) and Jonus Quist (SWE) were pulling ever closer to the front. Round the bottom mark Brandt carried on to the right while the rest tacked off to the left again. When the fleet met, he was well ahead but tried it again and fell foul of a big left shift which left all four Danes within metres of each other just 200 metres from the finish. Deaves dropped three places when he caught some weed, which let Craig and Quist through.

At the finish Johansen pipped Lindhardtsen by a few metres as they both had to bear away having overstood the finish. Lindhardtsen related, "I should have tacked earlier and then I might have won, but my body didn't do what my brain was telling it to!" Two seconds later Wibro and Brandt finished, with Craig, Quist and Deaves just a few second behind them.

For Johansen this is is a dream come true. This 55 year old has been sailing OKs for 25 years and has never really proved himself. Earlier this year he bought himself a new Hylander hull and got some winter coaching with AC sailor Michael Hestbæk. In Denmark the Mogens phenomenon, as it has become known, has inspired other to copy his boat setup but no one can match his light weather downwind speed, although at just 81 kg, in a breeze he admits to having problems keeping up with the leaders.

With two of the top four having high scoring races today, Craig's position at the top is extended to 12 points on Quist and 26 on Wilcox in third. Tomorrow's forecast is for thunderstorms and torrential rain, which could add something different to the mix.

Day 5, Friday 29 July

No racing at the OK Worlds
We all know that sailors love to talk about the weather, but today in Skælskør, Denmark at the OK Dinghy World Championships, that was all they could do.

And they had plenty of material. Waiting on the sound for over four hours for a race to start, first there was a light north-easterly and mist, then this cleared to leave flat calm, brilliant sunshine and soaring temperatures, then it some wind came from the south-east and died, then it cooled down and some more built again from the west...and died.

Finally a breeze appeared from the north-west and a course was set. But as the sailors checked the shifts and prepared for the race an enormous thunderstorm approached and with winds reaching 25 knots and torrential rain, racing was postponed and the sailors were sent home, only to find no wind inside the fjord and most had to be towed the few miles back to the sailing centre.

However it was not over yet. On arrival at the shore, the postponement was still up and a further wait of an hour ensued until the PRO finally admitted defeat and abandoned for the day.

Tomorrow is the final scheduled day and it is technically possible to run three races, so the final result is by no means certain. But by tomorrow night there will be a new OK Dinghy World Champion.

Day 6, Saturday 30 July

Craig is 'over the moon'!
The final day of the 2005 OK Dinghy World Championships began with rain, no wind and a 2 hour postponement. It ended with Nick Craig (GBR) becoming the new OK Dinghy World Champion after seven previous serious campaingns and describing the struggle as "one of the hardest things I have ever tried to win."

The sailors were held on shore for two hours while the rain battered doen and the wind failed to come. Even the frogs started to come indoors because outside was so wet. Finally at 11 am, the postponement Came down and the fleet was towed out to a glass like sea wondering what was going on.

However a breeze appeared and a course was set and race 8 commenced in barely enough wind to cross the start line. Nick Craig said afterwards, "It was shocker, they should have waited a bit longer. There was barely enough wind to sail with massive shifts from each side. Jonus Quist (SWE) sailed an excellent first beat though to win. I was doing OK until the wind dies and got buried in the middle. I rounded the top mark in about 20th. And caught up a few on the reaches. On the second beat I went right a bit caught a big shift and moved up to 3rd. Lost one on the final leg to finished 4th, but that was enough." With not enough time to run two races, Nick Craig had finally won the OK Worlds, after many medals but no wins. He said, "This is awesome. I am over the moon, and really happy to have won it finally. It has been the hardest thing I have ever tried to win. It is very satisfying."

For the start of race 9, a strong wind arrived for for once the sailors could stetch their legs in the force 4-5. Jon Fish rounded the top mark in first and would have done well apart from a spash down the run which dropped him to 20th. On the second beat Roger Blasse (AUS) and Mark Perrow (NZL) had banged right and found a good shift and more wind to take the lead and win the race in the fantastic sailing conditions.

1GBR 2116NickCraig21,013312254dnc
2SWE 2762Jonas Quist32,04bfd1283617
3NZL 522Greg Wilcox49,0161812111565
4AUS 678Roger Blasse54,03661131014271
5DEN 1280Jørgen Lindhardtsen62,07181234362113
6DEN 1335Mogens Johansen70,05415103471199
7DEN 1302Ulf Brandt86,08122585304816
8NZL 525Steve McDowell89,021718236492112
9GER 693Martin Von Zimmermann96,0158951612ocs229
10DEN 1344Peter Wibro99,0192522911831611
11SWE 2741Thomas Hansson-Mild113,014151119202918313
12NZL 472Alistair Deaves121,0281127359517519
13GER 717Oliver Gronholz122,02423217221319917
14POL 14Pawel Pawlaczyk127,012519213215281314
15GER 672Gunter Arndt130,022bfd1428211113156
16NZL 521Mark Perrow148,010164416102531382
17SWE 99Hans Elkjaer158,011272142542322018
18GER 690Sönke Behrens160,0bfd23734122730108
19DEN 1345Frank Hansen166,06191624374183521
20GBR 2110Jon Fish167,092217dsq7ocs101423
21DEN 1340Jesper Petersen168,039104315222232910
22DEN 1330Troels Lykke174,0357331414311228dnc
23NZL 518Grant Pedersen193,0442830628142617dsq
24SWE 2750Jonas Lindahl197,52920261513393322dnc
25GBR 2081Robert Deaves198,034353525172075225
26AUS 719Andre Blasse202,0bfdbfd718152336344
27NZL 515Mike Wilde204,041522320261644727
28GER 624Thomas Glas214,025342073324554031
29NZL 508Wayne Avery215,049265391828601238
30GBR 2082John Ball224,0261438551935252344
31DEN 1304Christian Midtgård227,0172939274919523215
32GER 424Rainer Rehbehn229,0304441382317164620
33POL 16Marek Jarocki234,0483229295318222432
34NZL 490Trent Pryce241,036245033421475126
35GER 710Christian Senst243,0bfd943453036212633
36POL 61Janusz Stobinski253,5204251305739242522
37DEN 1324Claus Deichgräber255,04039421336371137dnc
38DEN 1265Bo Teglers273,013bfd1043509585040
39DEN 1322Ivan Pedersen273,02141132258334639dnc
40POL 127Jakob Kania273,0454024482434274534
41SWE 2752Ingemar Janson283,0324528324848203345
42GBR 2021Alex Scoles287,03113593627dnf354442
43AUS 723Paul Richards298,0332136414447403648
44GER 688Dirk Dame305,0503340465632373136
45GER 726Jörg Sylvester310,0273045523157394739
46GER 720Daniel Gröschl317,0465134494143571835
47GER 707Thorsten Schmidt325,018553126385042dnfdnc
48GER 632Fabian Gronholz326,0234847565446295524
49GBR 2085Gavin Waldron336,0374952374251344343
50GER 695Dirk Gericke342,0434748475145413041
51GER 607Christian Heinze346,042313244454443dncdnc
52AUS 706Peter Nielsen370,5523755512959594146
53NZL 498Darren Hunt375,0385361535949454830
54NZL 500Philip Rzepecky377,0bfd5660406026515628
55DEN 1317Henrik Søgren392,053dsq4642353848dnfdnc
56GER 665Peter Stephan395,054384950465538dncdnc
57DEN 1212Jan Larsen397,04746535447545442dnc
58POL 24Darek Kras402,0565457583952614937
59SWE 2746Olle Heimersson415,0554354576256505347
60BEL 604Mark Geboes437,0bfd50586140604954dnc
61BEL 214Paul Verrijdt444,5dsq365559555356dncdnc
62SWE 2721Bertil Eliasson467,051576260615853dncdnc
63DEN 1303John Skjoldby520,0dncdncdncdncdncdncdncdncdnc
63GBR 2087Juliane Burnham520,0dncdncdncdncdncdncdncdncdnc