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World Championship 2014

Melbourne, Australia

December 28th - January 4th


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OK Dinghy fleet all set for classic World Championship in Melbourne

Lots of OK and sunny skies at Black Rock
Lots of OK and sunny skies

After three days of fantastic Port Phillip weather, the 2014 OK Dinghy World Championship was opened on a hot and sunny Sunday evening at Black Rock Yacht Club, Melbourne, Australia. Following the official opening of the regatta, there followed three inductions into the OK Dinghy Hall of Fame, all from the club, and a fabulous paella served on the club verandah overlooking the bay.

The third OK Dinghy World Championship at Black Rock YC in 32 years has attracted 74 entries from six nations. The sailors have enjoyed a mix of conditions over the past three days with two very informal pre-regattas to test the sailors and the race team. On Friday, Boxing Day, about 20 boats went out in 15-18 knots and sunny skies, to sail three short races. Greg Wilcox (NZL) won two races to take the day from Mark Perrow (NZL) and Malte Pedersen (DEN).

The second day of the Pre-Worlds regatta delivered even better than the first with spectacular Port Phillip conditions and more boats on the water. Everyone came ashore with smiles from ear to ear after some great racing in great conditions. Luke O'Connell (NZL) took the day's top prize from Ben Morrison (NZL) and Mark Roberts (AUS). Measurement was also started onshore with the majority of boats passed with few problems by the class's Chief Measurer, Dick Batt (GBR).

Worlds pre-regatta Photo: Alex McKinnon
Worlds pre-regatta Photo: Alex McKinnon

The opening ceremony and welcome party on Sunday evening at the yacht club precedes what many consider will be a classic world championship for the class, held at one of the bastions of OK Dinghy sailing around the world. The awards board at the club is filled with OK Dinghy national and world champions. The current world champion Roger Blasse (AUS) comes from the club and is sure to set the pace on Port Philip, though will have a lot of strong competition to defend his title.

The welcome function also included the induction into the OK Dinghy Hall of Fame of class stalwarts Bill Bell (AUS), Roger Blasse (AUS) and Andre Blasse (AUS). It was a celebratory, and for some emotional moment, to acknowledge the enormous contribution that these three sailors have made to the ongoing success of the class in Australia and worldwide. A full report will follow.

The queue for measurement checking
The queue for measurement checking

The Commodore of Black Rock YC, Andre Blasse (AUS), and also a competitor this week, said, “As Commodore of Black Rock Yacht Club, I am very happy to have the 2014 OK Dinghy Worlds at our Club. It is great to see an entry list of 74 sailors from six nations, with four past world Champions including the current one.”

“Black Rock Yacht Club is well-known in Australia for its OK Dinghy sailors; our members have won the National Championships some 34 times since 1963.”

“This will be the third running of an OK Dinghy worlds at the club. The first was in 1982 won by legendary New Zealand sailor Rick Dodson (NZL). Then in 1990 it was won by another New Zealand OK legend Leith Armit (NZL). OK Dinghy sailors must like the place, there are six competing this year who sailed in 1982, plus Bill Bell who will be on the Jury.”

“I wish everyone all the best on and off the water, and I hope you all have a great time in Black Rock, Melbourne Australia.”

The practice race will be held on Monday 29 December followed by the first races on Tuesday 30 December. Racing continues until Sunday 4 December with a lay day scheduled for New Years Day.

Wave breaking over HMVS Cerberus
Spray over HMVS Cerberus

OK Dinghy fleet all set for classic World Championship in Melbourne

After mesurement the invitation race was planned, but a front with rain and high winds well over 40kn was approaching. It was a good example for how fast the weather in Melbourne can change - four seasons in a day is what the locals say.
It was impressive to watch though.
The AGM was held on monday as well, the much discussed strategic roadmap was mostly agreed on and some other rule changes were decided.

OK Class votes for change at the AGM

Following the OKDIA AGM at Black Rock YC, Melbourne on December 29, here is a summary of the decisions taken.

  1. Committee: The following were elected for the next two years Vice-President, Southern Hemisphere: Mike Wilde; Treasurer: Dan Ager; Webmaster: Peter Scheuerl
  2. Strategic Roadmap: Most of the proposals were passed by a clear majority. From 2015 Membership fees will increase to £10 per sailor. Mast (from 1 Jan 2015) and sail labels (from 1 Jan 2016) will be £10 each. Building fees will rise to £65. Worlds levy will rise to £25.
  3. Entry at the World Championship can now be made open with the agreement of both the host club and OKDIA.
  4. The three Technical Committee rule changes regarding sequential sail numbers, draft stripes and framing were passed. The Danish proposal on hull construction was not passed.
  5. Rules for how members submit rule changes have been defined and passed into the constitution. This is just the first step towards formalising a lot of the technical committee's activities.
  6. The 2017 World Championship was awarded to Barbados.
The full AGM Minutes will be available on the website shortly.

Strong winds leaves OK Dinghy world fleet on shore for second day

Strong winds battering Port Phillip caused the first day of the OK Dinghy World Championship to be cancelled, leaving sailors on shore all day. After the practice race on Monday was also cancelled because of strong winds, the fleet is itching to get on the water and start some racing.

The day began pretty much as the previous day had ended, with strong winds sweeping the bay and sending crashing waves into Half Moon Bay. Never mind the race area, launching was virtually impossible as waves crashed up the slipways and over the boats on the quay. So it was no surprise that an early postponement was hoisted to delay the scheduled 13.00 start time to 15.00. The PRO, Mark Taylor (AUS), was not very optimistic about any racing taking place but left a window of opportunity if the wind moderated. Some forecasts showed a drop later in the day, some didn't. Though it did drop briefly around 11.00 to 20-23 knots, by 12.00 it was back up to 30 knots with a substantial sea running.

The strong westerlies had also raised the water height in Half Moon Bay by the Black Rock Yacht Club, with the sea lapping over the top of the ramps onto the road. The sea state had to moderate substantially before it was ever going to be safe to even launch the boats.

At 14.00 the decision was taken to cancel for the day with the winds still peaking out at above 30 knots and a fierce sea running. Mark Taylor explained the decision. “We were faced with some extremely challenging conditions on the bay. Large 20-25 knot north-westerlies were forecast, staying at that strength all day but gradually moving round to the west. Our concern from that forecast was that there was never going to be any let up in the sea state, which was going to stay high all day. And whilst the wind had moderated by 14.00, the sea state hadn't and given it's the first day of the regatta, the conservative thing to do was to not race today.”

“I had a discussion with the OKDIA rep and he's comfortable with that decision and most of the competitors I have spoken to since reckon that's a pretty good decision, The waves are over two metres and there is still a lot of white out there. Westerly is probably our most difficult direction. It's just very short and sharp out there.”

The sailors were then able to enjoy the first sponsored event by True South, which was carried over from Monday, with free beer provided through the afternoon, and combined with the Tuesday sponsored beer from Sailing Raceboats made for a convivial afternoon.

The forecast for Wednesday is much better at 15-20 knots. Class rule prohibit races being caught up unless the series is under threat, so two races are scheduled from 13.00 again.

Artemis sailors shine after first races at the OK Dinghy Worlds in Melbourne

Following a long day of waiting for the breeze, the fleet at the 2014 OK Dinghy World Championship at Black Rock YC in Melbourne, Australia was finally rewarded by two great races in a rapidly building sea breeze. Matt Stechmann (NZL) leads overall after winning the first race. Matt Coutts (NZL) is in second while defending champion Roger Blasse (AUS) is in third. The second race was won by Stechmann's Artemis teammate Anthony Nossiter (AUS).

After losing the invitation race and first day of racing to strong winds and big seas on Port Phillip, the second day of the championship started in start contrast: flat seas and no wind. The fleet again waited patiently ashore for most of the day. Some sailors ventured out as a light 2-3 knots breeze filled in to try and encourage the elements into some action, but the wind was never strong enough for racing. Around 15.00 a southerly started to appear and slowly strengthened and the fleet was released at about 16.00.

Matt Stechmann leads at top mark
Matt Stechmann leads at top mark

The wind continued to build to 7-8 knots for the start of Race 1. After one general recall, the fleet got away under U flag with Matt Stechmann (NZL) crossing at the pin end and tacking to cross the entire fleet by a substantial margin. It was enough of a jump on the fleet to lead all the way round. He was chased by Jørgen Svendsen (DEN) and Greg Wilcox (NZL) but there was little they could do about his enormous lead.

Stechmann takes up the story, “I started four boats up from the pin and managed to have a bit of a gap. I looked over my shoulder and there were 74 boats to cross, so I tacked and crossed them and kept going and waited for it to come back and that was pretty much it. I was about a minute ahead at the top. Then I just kept between Jørgen and Greg and the mark. They made some gains downwind which I took back upwind. Once I was in front there wasn't too much to it really. I had a good lane and pressure and that just popped me out and put me in the lead.”

“At the end of the first triangle Greg has closed to about 25 seconds but I got the breeze straightaway and he had to tack to cover Jørgen, so that gave me some leverage on the right and I got a nice little shift that put 30 seconds on them right there to take my advantage back out to a minute.” Stechmann won the race comfortably from Svendsen and Wilcox.

The Fleet downwind
The Fleet downwind

The wind really started to build after the fleet finished the race and after a wait for the course to be realigned, Race 2 got underway in a solid 20 knots breeze and rising seas. These were fantastic conditions for the OK Dinghy and also to the liking to Anthony Nossiter (AUS). After rounding close to the front group at the top mark he took the lead on the final downwind from Roger Blasse (AUS) to lead up to the finish. Ben Morrison (NZL) crossed in third.

Nossiter explained his day. “That was my first race in an OK Dinghy since the Interdominions this time last year. First race off the start line and I got a yellow flag, So I perhaps need to sail more like a gentleman and be a bit less active. But it was good fun, plug and play, just like a Finn.”

“The second race was much windier and I won that one. I just tried to get free and sail how it feels good to me. I wasn't really sure what was the best way; a lot of the boats were going too high for me so I just sailed a bit freer and got the top at the business end and then just chipped away a bit and got past a few guys. It was really good fun, very gentlemanly sailing at the front of the fleet.”

Back to shore
Back to shore

“It was a good day for Artemis; we got two firsts today. I think we have different strengths though. Stech and I are 15 kg different in weight.”

It was a testing race for the fleet with some fantastic Port Phillip waves to surf down as the sun started to nudge the horizon. By the time the fleet reached the shore it was gone 20.00 and sunset followed shortly after as the sailors hurried into the club for some well-deserved fish and chips baskets.

Racing continues on January 2, after the scheduled lay day on New Years Day. Tonight the tired sailors are enjoying a New Year's Eve party at the Black Rock Yacht Club. With a day off tomorrow some of the sailors are planning a big night, probably in the way that only OK Dinghy sailors can. The less said about that the better, but all are happy that the 2014 OK Dinghy World Championships is finally underway. Happy New OK Year.

Kiwis line up in top three after drama filled day three

It was a drama filled day at Black Rock YC on the third day of the OK Dinghy World Championship in Melbourne, Australia. Luke O'Connell (NZL) won the only race of the day to take the overall lead from Matt Coutts (NZL) and Matt Stechmann (NZL)

On arrival at the club this morning after the New Year lay day, the sailors were greeted by a glass like sea and rising temperatures, and generally had tales of a day doing nothing much the day before. During the morning the fitful wind fought between the land and the sea and after a short postponement the fleet was sent out in a building northerly which surprisingly was gusting to 23 knots from the north-west. However by race time this was down to 8-12 knots and dropped consistently throughout the race to 2-4 knots by the finish.

Luke O'Connell ©Alex McKinnon
Luke O'Connell ©Alex McKinnon

The first beat was dominated by the building pressure on the left. A few were tempted over to the right closer to the land, but the pressure line brought the left side up to the mark in the lead. Christian Olesen (DEN) was first round followed by Jørgen Svendsen (DEN) and Luke O'Connell (NZL).

Olesen maintained the lead down the reaches but Svendsen made his move on the second upwind to lead round the final loop. By this time O'Connell was up to second and half way up the final upwind, the wind almost disappeared and clocked left 30-40 degrees. Svendsen had placed a very loose cover over the Kiwi and had almost let him out in front. It got quite close at the finish, with Svendsen slapping the final cover on O'Connell to take the winner's gun. Olesen crossed in third.

Svendsen said, “It was a fantastic race. I didn't get the best start, but there was a lot of wind on the left side so even though I was behind Greg Wilcox and had his bad air, I just kept going and after a while he tacked and I kept going until almost the layline before tacking. That was almost the whole race done.”

“I took the lead on the second upwind and we were were very close on the downwind but luckily I managed to round the gate just ahead and we went to the left again. I was a little bit too gentle with Luke so we got very close at the end. When we tacked I let him go first and I was getting a little worried, but then we we tacked for the line I was able to stay ahead.”

“It was very tricky. I just tried to stay close to the others but it seemed the more you got to the left, the better it got all the time.”

On his performance this week, he said: “You can see if it's a heavy breeze because I am too skinny, and my results often depend on the weather conditions. In Denmark we would have sailed three races in these conditions, and actually when it's very windy we just stay in the harbour, but also because we have a lot of veterans in the class, so normally we don't race when it's too windy.”

Fleet upwind ©Alex McKinnon
Fleet upwind ©Alex McKinnon

The fleet then waited afloat in hardly any wind for an hour in stifling temperatures before being sent ashore to wait in the relative cool of the club. The temperature ashore was 37 degrees. Just after 17.00, the signal went up to cancel racing for the day with the chance of any wind looking less and less likely.

However, the drama was not quite over. Once back ashore, Svendsen was protested by the Race Committee for a technical irregularity and was subsequently disqualified from the race. This left O'Connell as the race winner from Olesen and Mark Skelton (AUS).

So, three days in to the championship and only three races have been sailed. Five are needed to make a championship and with two days left, the PRO, Mark Taylor is not panicking just yet. There is wind forecast for Saturday, perhaps too much, and discussions are ongoing over the best way to use what wind there is, so there could be a change to the schedule at some point. The overnight forecast into Saturday says another heavy front is coming through with winds up to 50 knots. The hope is that this will moderate enough during the morning to enable racing to take place.

O'Connell summed up his regatta so far, “It has gone well so far, and I have been lucky to be so consistent. A few of the other boys have a big score on the card, but when the drop comes in I may well drop down a bit. But it's good to be in contention after what has already been quite a tricky regatta so far.”

“The PRO is going to have a bit on now but I think we should get the series in no problem. Tomorrow is meant to be fresh again, so might be a problem, but I think it will be OK. It will be a shame to come all this way for everyone and not get a result.”

Light wind ©Alex McKinnon
Light wind ©Alex McKinnon

On his goals for the week, “My goal was definitely top 10, but if things went my way then I thought I'd have a shot at the top. But most of all I am desperate to get a tie. I've never had a tie before, so really want want of those, but to take it out would be great as well. There's no pressure yet – it's still a bit early. If I can keep cruising along, I'll be quite happy.”

The top 10 all get awarded an OKDIA Championship tie and these have become the mark of a top OK Dinghy sailor. They are coveted by OK Dinghy sailors worldwide, but they can only be obtained with a top 10 result at the world championship.

On the race today he said, “Today, I finally had a good start. It made things so much easier. When you don't have to fight your way back through the fleet you realise how easy sailing can be. If you get a shift you can take it and don't have to wait for everyone else to take it and then find a lane.”

“The weather so far has been all over the place. I think it is not quite what everyone was expecting.”

With two days to go the points at the top are very close with just four points separating the top five boats, though with a potential four races to go, the series is not even half way through, in theory.

The OK Dinghy - friendships, culture and intense racing

An OK Dinghy World Championship is always so much more that the pinnacle event in the class. It is also an annual gathering of old friends from across the world, almost a pilgrimage that keeps the class enthusiasts coming back year after year. While some sailors find it hard to ignore the OK call, competing every year for longer than they can remember, a number of sailors in Black Rock this week have made a return to the class they once loved and are having another crack at the world title.
For some of the sailors here it is their first OK Dinghy Worlds, other such as Andre Blasse (AUS), Roger Blasse (AUS), Greg Wilcox (NZL), Alistair Deaves (NZL) and Gavin Waldron (GBR) are approaching, or over, 20 championships.

Some are missing with injury. Shoulder injuries appear to be in vogue with OKDIA Vice-President Mike Wilde (NZL) staying home, while local sailor Don Williams (AUS) assisted with measurement with one useful arm but was unable to sail. It was also expected that Rod Davis (NZL) would sail, but his other commitments had taken their toll, and he decided to stay home as well.

The new sailors are finding out what the OK Dinghy is all about. From the Finn class, there is the three time Olympian Anthony Nossiter (AUS), a recent campaigner Matt Coutts (NZL) and long time Finn sailor Rob McMillan (AUS). They are finding out that there is a bit more to the class than they originally thought.

Former World Champions in Black Rock: Glenn Collings (1984), Greg Wilcox (2002), Mark Fisher (1986), Peter Milne (1999), Roger Blasse (1998 and 2013). Photo: Robert Deaves
World Champions

Then there are the returning world champions. There are four here. Roger Blasse won in 1998 and 2013, Wilcox won in 2002, Glenn Collings (AUS) won in 1984 and Peter Milne (AUS) won in 1999.

For Collings, this week is his first time in an OK Dinghy for nearly 30 years. He won the OK Dinghy world title in 1984 in Sonderborg, Denmark.

What brought him back? “This is my home town so I thought they would be good fun to do this after so many years. I had a sail and remembered I really enjoyed sailing OKs. They are great to sail in all conditions, especially downwind. I sailed a worlds in New Zealand in 1985 but didn't do any training for that and haven't sailed one since. Since then I have sailed Etchells, and Tasars and a bit of Lasers.”

How has the class changed since then? “The mast and sails have developed a lot since my day, they have got a lot harder with so many big sailors in the class these days. I wasn't a super lightweight back then, but I am now. The boats haven't changed that much though – it's all pretty similar and still a lot of fun to sail. But still very hard. The people in the class are the same, maybe there are a few more professionals in the class nowadays.”

Is he back for the long term. “I don't know. The worlds don't come to Australia very often and I would find it hard to go overseas now. But I might be able to find an old boat I can fix up.”

Glen Collings Photo: Lara Blasse
Glen Collings Photo: Lara Blasse

“I was really surprised how well I went on the first day.” Collings got a fifth and a tenth. “I am just trying to focus on the right things. I still think I am a bit slow at times, but I didn't seem to be in the first two races. In the third race I just went the wrong way. The wind did what I expected it to do, but the direction didn't do what we expected. It was one of those races when you say 'I'll do what the locals do' and then you don't do it when you get the regatta.”

Looking at the conditions he said, “Occasionally we get days on end of sea breezes here, but it's quite rare for that to happen. More than likely you get a bit of everything here, so this is not unusual. If a frontal system comes through then each day is different.” That has certainly been the case this week."

“Back in 1984 my main competition internationally was Stig Westergaard (DEN). Stig was the one to beat when I won the worlds and was always a very consistent sailor. There was also Alastair McMichael (GBR) and when I sailed, and won, the English Nationals he was second; and also John Derbyshire (GBR) was third in the worlds, the year I won. It's amazing that those guys went on to do some pretty incredible things.”

“My best memories of the class back then are travelling and seeing lots of countries, which was always lots of fun. I always always enjoyed sailing in different places. Basically it was my chance to get to see the world. I went overseas quite a few times and haven't really done that since.”

Peter Milne started his OK Dinghy career just as Collings was finishing. “Glen was just finishing as I came into it. I only overlapped a year or two with him and then he went to New Zealand for a one off worlds, so it's a long time between events for him.”

Pete Milne Photo: Lara Blasse
Pete Milne Photo: Lara Blasse

After a gap of some 14 years, Milne has bought back his 1999 world championship winning OK Dinghy and is having another go. Why did he return to sailing the OK. “Hmmm, these are questions I keep asking myself. I guess the thing that drags me back mostly is the culture. The friendliness, the intensity of the racing and the social side. Everyone mixes together really well. And of course the fun of sailing them downwind in a breeze is not matched by many other classes. So, that's what brings me back – the opportunity to sail my old boat against my old mates.”

“I started in 1983, stopped in 2000, and came back last year. I have done six months before these worlds, though I have been sailing a lot of different boats over the years. In 1983 -1989 period I did a lot of other sailing, with keelboats and Sydney-Hobarts, but always kept coming back to the OK. When I started sailing there was a core group of us with Andre, Roger, Neil Williamson (AUS) and Mark Jackson (AUS). There'd be six to eight of us out a couple of nights a week, so we all sort of grew up together. Really this is just the opportunity to race against my mates again.”

On the changes in the boats. “The masts are very different and I really don't understand them. Roger very kindly leant me his mast and I had a brand new sail made at the last minute. I can't sail with a stiff mast, so I changed to a much softer mast which is like what I had when we had aluminium. I am only 82 kg now. When I won the worlds in 1999 I was 78 kg and I won the windiest race. But I had an aluminium mast that has a epoxy-glassfibre wrap around the top, so it was very stiff sideways but very soft fore and aft and that worked really well in the breeze.”

“So if I keep sailing now, I will have to develop another mast as I can't keep using these stiffer masts we have today. For my weight it doesn't really work.”

“The boats are different from the 1990s with the carbon mast but not a lot, just the masts are stiffer and there seems to be an increase in the size of the people sailing the boat these days. It's quite dramatic, so I don't think at the moment there is a lot to cater for the lighter guys, especially in the breeze. If you sail here you have to have rig that will be competitive in 20 knots. So I think we just have to work a bit harder for that. But that's the main change I see over the last 20 years.”

“I have my old boat back, all resprayed, that I built 18 years ago. It's still quick, it's just the rig that's not quite balanced, so I need to sort that out and see how we go. I bought the boat back and restored it so I think I'll keep it and do regattas here and there. I am still sailing other boats as well so it's not my main boat at the moment.”

Of the two former world champions, Milne is currently lying in 17th place after two 13th on day two, but dropped with a 38th on day three. Collings is fairly slightly better in 12th overall.

At Black Rock, the club has been buffeted by 30-40 knot winds all day long on Saturday with temperatures in the high 30s. The frustration of the sailors is palpable. They want to go sailing, but that will now have to wait until Sunday, which is the final day of the event, as for the third time this week the sailors have been kept onshore because of strong winds. Two more races are needed to make a valid championship and the PRO has changed the schedule for the final day to give the best possible chance of racing. Racing is now scheduled to start at 10.00 with a last possible start moved back to 17.00. So keep fingers, toes and everything crossed that we get the final races in.

Matt Stechmann secures OK Dinghy world title after classic Black Rock day

After a week of uncooperative weather at Black Rock, Australia, the OK Dinghy World Championship wrapped up in perfect Port Phillip conditions. Matt Stechmann (NZL) did just enough to take the title by one point from Luke O'Connell (NZL), who won a three way points tie with defending champion, Roger Blasse (AUS), who took third overall, and Greg Wilcox (NZL) in fourth.
Going into the final day, the fleet needed two more races to get in a valid series, so there was audible relief as the sailors arrived on Sunday morning to a sailable 15-20 knots on the bay. The day started damp and grey, following the overnight storm and rain, but by the second race the sky was clear and the sea breeze was pumping. The strong winds of Saturday had also left a large confused sea behind, but this soon moderated along with the wind.

Roger Blasse (AUS), Matt Stechmann (NZL) and Luke O'Connell (NZL). Photo: Robert Deaves
Top three. Photo: Robert Deaves

The first race of the day, race four went to Mike Williams (AUS). He said “It was about 15 knots, so a nice breeze. I got off the line cleanly and just had a good lane and got around the top mark just behind Ben Morrison (NZL). I got through him at the gybe mark and was able to keep the group just behind me, but they were so close to me the whole time, it was a bit nerve racking.

“When the wind started dropping out half way through the race I was a bit concerned the lighter guys might come through. Matt Stechmann (NZL) and Matt Coutts (NZL) got into their own little tacking dual, that was before Matt Coutts knew he was BFD, so that let me sail away a little bit from them.” Coutts was one of eight sailors black flagged at the start, which somewhat hindered his chances of the title. Williams led across the line from Morrison and Greg Wilcox (NZL).

By the time the second race started the dropping wind had been reinforced by a growing sea breeze. The sailors were able to stretch their legs and enjoy the conditions and the sunshine to the full. The main battle was between Stechmann and Luke O'Connell (NZL) for the title, though it was so close it could have gone any of five ways.

Andre Blasse leads race 5. Photo: Lara Blasse
Andre Blasse leads race 5. Photo: Lara Blasse

After a week of drama and waiting, the event then had a poetic ending. Black Rock YC Commodore, Andre Blasse (AUS), had spent the previous two years organising this championship, and dominated the final race to win by a massive margin. It was a very popular win. He said, “It was good fun for me. I came off the start line near the starboard end, tacked, ducked a couple of boats and got the first shift and just went up the middle. I was first to the top mark and thought I was pretty quick downwind and got away. It's beautiful having nice clear air out the front” He took a huge win from Wilcox and Morrison.

However the real drama was playing out behind them as Stechmann tried to stay in touch with O'Connell.Eventually Stechmann crossed in 10th with O'Connell in eighth, to give Stechmann his first ever OK Dinghy World title. O'Connell took the silver while the defending champion Roger Blasse (AUS), from the home club, took the bronze.

Blasse continued. “It was perfect Black Rock conditions with fantastic waves. I wish we'd had a little bit more of that during the regatta, but unfortunately we didn't. It's a shame for the overseas competitors but at least they got to see what it can be like. The race committee did a great job in difficult conditions all week.”

“After two years work it's fantastic for me to finish the week with a race win. I have won a couple of races before but not for a while, so it's nice to do that at home, after all the work.”

The visitors to Black Rock have learned a lot about Australian weather this week. Most came expecting the nice sea breezes that makes sailing in Port Phillip famous. But it was not too be. Of the six days, three were lost through strong westerlies and northerlies and a further race was lost when the wind went away. The 77 sailors feel very fortunate that they were able to complete their championship on the final day.

Photo: Alex McKinnon
Photo: Alex McKinnon

Stechmann's win also completed the hat-trick of Kiwis winning the OK Dinghy World Championship at Black Rock YC after Rick Dodson (NZL) in 1982 and Leith Armit (NZL) in 1990. In fact, no Australian has yet won the title when it has been held at Black Rock.

On his chances today, Stechmann said, “I was quite confident that I could perform good enough today to give myself a chance. But whether I woke up this morning thinking today I would win the worlds, probably not.But I was confident I could put in a good display and let it all unfold.”

“The first race went incredibly well and I got a good start just up from the pin and managed to get over the little bunch to leeward of me which really gave me the leverage to sail the way I wanted. I could sail low and quick to the left hand corner and we got a shift which popped us up into a nice lead with a few other boats. Though Greg and Luke still had good races, that really set me up to hold all the cards for the final race.”

“I always knew I had the biggest drop, so my game plan for the final race was just to stay close to Luke and shadow him round the track and see how the cards fell. There are so many good guys out there, you just had to sail your own race but Luke and I pushed each other hard to be in the top bunch, and on the line there was just one boat between us, and that was enough to give me the one point lead.”

“I am absolutely over the moon to be honest. My goal for this regatta was top five, I thought that would be a good effort here and just to really focus for 2016 worlds in 18 months times. I am just stoked about this.”

“I am absolutely thrilled for Luke. We work together and we're pretty tight. We do a lot of training together. His day day will come but I am absolutely rapt that if I had to go toe to toe with someone it would be Luke. Could we have planned it any better? Probably not.”

Silver medalist O'Connell paid tribute to Stechmann, “It was a great week. Very challenging conditions, very difficult for the race officer and the competitors, varied conditions and as always great fun. I am thrilled with second place. Thrilled to get my first tie and thrilled to finish second to such a great bloke. I am well happy with the result and Matt is definitely the deserving winner.”

Prizewinners: Photo: Robert Deaves
Prizewinners: Photo: Robert Deaves

Roger Blasse took the bronze. He said, “I think of course the weather could have been better, but I am happy about the guys who won. They have done a lot of work in the last few years with their boats and their sailing, so that's really good. I am happy with third as I don't think I sailed well enough at times, because it was such a short regatta. At times I had a couple of bad first works, so I couldn't get round the top mark how I liked, but that's just sailing sometimes. It doesn't always go your way. So I was a bit surprised to end up third. It was a good week, just a shame we didn't get better weather.”

In accepting his winners' prize Stechmann said, “In the circumstances I think the race team have done a fantastic job. I never came here expecting to win this contest. One of my goals coming here was to win a race just to prove I could, because I don't win many, in fact I have never won an OK regatta before. I could stand here all night and thank people who have had an impact on my sailing career.”

He thanked his New Zealand team mates. “Any one of those guys could win this event, and they will. There's some good men there. They all have a piece of this. It's not just about me winning this. It's a team thing. We share info and have come a long way in a short time. We do some great yachting and have great camaraderie. I wouldn't be standing here tonight if it wasn't for you, so thank you.”

“It's been a wonderful event, not just because I won, but to be here with all my friends from around the world. Every year we all get together and have a great time. It's what it's really all about. This is a really massive moment in my life and I am really pleased to be able to share it with all of you.”

World Championship 2014 Results
CountryClubR1R2R3R4R5PtsNet Pts 
1Matt StechmannNZL549NZLNaval Point Club15112102918Veterans
2Luke O'ConnellNZL546NZLWorser Bay BC861482719 
3Roger BlasseAUS749AUSBRYC1126833019Veterans
4Greg WilcoxNZL544NZLPotsdamer Seglerverien3127543119Veterans
5Michael WilliamsAUS730AUSBRYC6821164221Veterans
6Matt CouttsNZL519NZLAuckland SC47578
7Ben MorrisonNZL530NZLWakatere BC27356329135 
8Jorgen SvendsenDEN1445DENHellerup Sejlklub21478
9Mark SkeltonAUS753AUS 719314145738Veterans
10Mark JacksonAUS735AUSBRYC91682476440Veterans
11Andre BlasseAUS729AUSBRYC171819616142Veterans
12Christian OlesenDEN1340DENVSK141721078
13Bradley DouglasNZL369NZLWakatere BC122022756644 
14Glenn CollingsAUS535AUSSafety Beach SC5103012227949Veterans
15Anthony NossiterAUS765AUSMHYC2211778
16Tim DaviesAUS739AUSWangi ASC102454111511460Veterans
17Mark PerrowNZL551NZLWaiuku YC15113427119864 
18Robert McmillanAUS766AUSWSC/RPAYC2042021339865Veterans
19Alistair DeavesNZL542NZLWakatere BC293710131610568Veterans
20David HoogenboomNZL303NZLWaiuku Yacht Club26349192511379Masters
21Jonathan CloughNZL498NZLWakatere BC2138478
22Peter MilneAUS694AUSBRYC13133878
23Robert DeavesGBR2156GBRWaldringfield SC413314152913291Veterans
24Peter HorneAUS764AUSDrummoyne SC252937231713194Veterans
25Paul RhodesNZL557NZLWorser Bay BC232343202813794Veterans
26Brent WilliamsAUS754AUSASC24262478
27Steve McdowellNZL545NZLWorser Bay BC283125261812897 
28Dave BourneGBR2157GBRUpriver YC342715224614498Veterans
29Daniel BushNZL478NZLWakatere BC509353126151101 
30Eric RoneUSA536USAWakatere BC164278
31Gareth WellsAUS742AUSWangi ASC1828592538168109Veterans
32Peter RobinsonAUS750AUSDrummoyne SC4241311724155113Veterans
33Folkert JanssenAUS733AUSBRYC6525323527184119Veterans
34Bruce AshtonAUS728AUSBRYC1978
35Edward O'DonnellAUS734AUSWangi ASC3215403778
36Malte PedersenDEN1407DENRoyal Danish YC5740121878
37Adrian CoulthardNZL531NZLNapier Sailing Club3155292839182127Veterans
38Chris FenwickNZL509NZLNapier SC3054284330185131 
39Adrian ManneringNZL504NZLNapier SC3635493234186137Veterans
40David KetteridgeAUS725AUSAdelaide SC3346184251190139Masters
41Andrew BakerAUS761AUSBRYC4449233345194145Veterans
42Rainer PospiechGER765GERYachtclub Berlin-Grunau3544412940189145Masters
43Gary LokumAUS741AUSBRYC6032464431213153Veterans
44Glenn WilliamsAUS719AUSBig River SC4722524936206154Veterans
45Dirk DameGER750GERSegler-Vereinigung Mannheim3758333478
46Rob HengstNZL533NZLNapier SC4839474142217169Veterans
47Jorg SylvesterGER726GERSegeberger Segel-Club3963503648236173Veterans
48Ronald FoestGER688GERDRS5568135659251183Veterans
49Christopher VisickAUS758AUSBRYC4547643952247183Veterans
50Mark RobertsAUS762AUSASC5478
51Elizabeth WilliamsAUS759AUSSandgate YC /BRYC4078
52Gavin WaldronGBR756GBRMorecambe SC4353444850238185Veterans
53Martin PikeNZL554NZLNapier SC6350425937251188Masters
54Samuel HainesAUS708AUSBRYC59434878
55Grant WakefieldAUS736AUSDSC3861584655258197Veterans
56Peter LynchAUS726AUSWangi ASC563078
57Dirk GerickeGER735GERSG Einheit Brandenburg e.V.6159276253262200Veterans
58Chris DevineNZL548NZLNapier SC6736625844267200Veterans
59Sefton PowrieNZL547NZLWakatere BC4956554749256200Masters
60Chris HallAUS757AUSBallarat YC4648575556262205 
61Mitchell WilsonAUS695AUSWangi ASC5364395267275208Youth
62Tim SmithAUS740AUSBRYC7052615441278208 
63Mads BrockhuusDEN1419DENSkaelskor Amator Sejlklub5860535054275215Veterans
64Ashley ParkinsonGBR711GBRLondon Corinthian SC7478
65Nils TrolandDEN1391DENHSS52454578
66Michael HorvathAUS744AUSBRYC62216378
67Richard FurneauxAUS737AUSBRYC6657673878
68Glenn YatesAUS767AUSWangi ASC6462515364294230Masters
69Ron FergussonAUS618AUSAlbert SC5166666068311243Veterans
70Neil WilliamsonUSA678USA 6878
71Erik ThompsonAUS706AUSSandgate YC / BRYC7267606657322250Masters
72Luke CromieAUS672AUSBRYC7365736358332259Veterans
73Michael WalkerAUS655AUSDrummoyne SC7178
74Stephen MooreAUS755AUSBRYC69516578
75John HendersonAUS715AUSBRYC7669726463344268 
76Slava UstovytskiAUS760AUSBRYC7778
77Mike FlavellAUS543AUSBRYC7570706578
Gear used by the top ten
1Matt StechmannNZL 549Dan LeechStechmannCtechNorth NZ
2Luke O'ConnellNZL 546Dan LeechO'ConnellCtechNorth NZ
3Roger BlasseAUS 749DelfJason KingCtechTurtle/AUS
4Greg WilcoxNZL 544IcebreakerIcebreaker Boats NZCtechTurtle
5Mike WilliamsAUS 730DelfJason KingCtechNorth NZ
6Matt CouttsNZL 519IcebreakerGarry Lock/CooksonCtechNorth NZ
7Ben MorrisonNZL 530IcebreakerIcebreaker Boats NZCtechNorth NZ
8Jorgen SvendsenDEN 1445SotaStrandbergCtechGreen
9Mark SkeltonAUS 753IcebreakerIcebreaker Boats NZCtechTurtle
10Mark JacksonAUS 735DelfJason KingCtechTurtle