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World Championship 1998
Pictures are in the Pictures gallery.
Below the Results you find a table with statistics about the top 20 sailors weights.
by Peter Jackson (AUS-666)
The OK Dinghy Worlds, despite attracting 55 International competitors out of the maximum allowable 80, 53 with their own equipment, from ten overseas countries, resulted in a nearly total clean sweep for Victorian sailors, filling 4 out of the top 5 spots.
Black Rock sailor Roger Blasse took the title on his 6th attempt, from the Big Victorian Carl Schmidt and German class stalwart Karsten Hitz 3rd.
Blasse's older brother, and recently crowned national champ Andre finished 4th with Williamstown newcomer John Gibson 5th at his first attempt.
Blasse won in quite convincing fashion, being unable to drop below 2nd going into the last heat , and only needing to prevent brother Andre from winning that race to secure the title. He duly sailed Andre off the course and the series was his, the fourth Australian to win the world crown , and the first Aussie victory in Australia.
In weather conditions regarded as atypical at Glenelg in January, Blasse put together 2 wins, 2 seconds a third and a ninth to give himself victory.
While clearly the heavy air "meister" in the class for the past 5 years, Blasse's victory this year came from being able to recover from fairly ordinary " in the pack" positions at the weather mark, due to blistering reaching and downwind speed and tactics.
Not large by OK Dinghy standards at 92 Kg, Blasse used this speed advantage to overtake larger Australians like Andre Blasse , Carl Schmidt and Mark Fisher, all of whom exhibited faster upwind speed in the predominant 10 - 15 knot lightish seabreezes.
Blasse first came to prominence in OK Dinghies back in 1986 with his first National Championship as a 19 year old. Several Nationals titles, and a stint in Sharpies, a top 10 place in the 1990 worlds, culminated in his prior best being a close 3rd in the 1994 Napier New Zealand Worlds to Class Guru New Zealander Leith Armit and subsequent Olympic Finn Gold Medallist Mateus Kusznieriwicz.
Being a technical pioneer in the class has always been a Blasse tradition. He was amongst the first to use the Multipanelled Hard Cloth sails developed by Gale and Rimmington in Melbourne, built his own boat to his own design , and is now using the maximum head G & R sails recently developed and used by the top 5 Australians.
This technical foresight, combined with flawless boathandling skills and fitness levels combined to bring Blasse success at Glenelg.
Most other Australian competitors used very similar gear to Blasse's, with G & R hard sails and the usual Needlespar or Goldspar masts. Hulls tended to vary, with the Delfs, Botterill C&T, original Comfort & Taylors and old Botterill hulls all prominent, alongside Blasse's self built creation. The G & R sails tend to be flatter than conventional cross - cut sails, with the lightweight yarn-tempered cloth keeping them flat into the higher wind ranges, where they come into their own.
In typical OK Dinghy self - policing tradition, protests hearings were few, although 720 degree turns were plentiful. General recalls were generally limited to one per race due to the rapid use of black flags after the first recall in all starts. This resulted in a number of competitors taking early showers in a few heats, but certainly kept the racing on schedule in fairly trying conditions.
The New Zealanders, long time Southern Hemisphere dominators of the class came with 15 boats, their National Champ and big claims, but only managed to get one boat, new OKDIA Junior Champ Daniel Bush into the top 10. The New Zealanders, despite new boat development and widespread OK activity , have tended to follow Australian trends since the 94 Napier Worlds, rather than lead development. An observation was that the NZ produced sails were too deep to perform in the heavier stuff, whilst giving no firm advantage in the light, while the ones using G & R sails were behind in fine tuning and finesse of the new style gear.
The Europeans were in Adelaide in force with one full container from Britain, and two from Germany and one from Denmark which included boats from Belgium, Poland and Sweden. Karsten Hitz of Germany, a class veteran of many years finished a very solid 3rd, only carrying one place outside of the top 10. Anders Andersen of Denmark, Hedley Fletcher from the UK, 1978 Champ Jorgen Lindhardtsen from Denmark and Jonas Persson from Sweden rounded out the top ten, Andersen the only other European besides Hitz to appear a threat to the Australian dominance.
Many Europeans sported British Ullman sails, a deep, tight leached monster that had awesome speed and height in the light stuff, but quickly became a handful in any sort of breeze. The ubiquitous Danish Green sails were probably better performed in Adelaide, appearing to be a better allround proposition. The Europeans, despite being attracted to Glenelg with the promise of big seabreezes were probably glad there were not more of them. A quote from one British competitor, (after winning a rather shifty, tricky morning heat in the Australian Open Champs sailed beforehand) was, "where I come from, this is as good as it gets"
The ongoing influence of the Olympic Finn champ Kusnieriwicz was seen by the continued good showing of the Polish competitors at the Worlds. Poles won races in both the Worlds and the Aussie Champs beforehand, and showed that , with a bit more consistency they can be a real force in OK Dinghy sailing.
The fledgling West Coast USA fleet was also represented at the Worlds, in a development that must bode well for the future of the class. Although there have been some boats sailing in Canada for some time, the potential of the US, regarded there as an " old European class" will add considerably to the classes appeal. Competitors from India were also present, and whilst there presented a proposal for a future world championship to be sailed in Goa.
The ongoing success of the OK Dinghy can be attributed to number of different factors. Firstly, it is not an Olympic Class, so it avoids the expense and class jumping of the Finn, but is close enough in sailing skills and style of the Finn to offer the single handed athlete a challenge. Being smaller than the Finn, it also offers sailors closer to the population average mass a chance, although the demise of weight jackets has meant 75kg types may find it tough. It is not an easy boat to sail, and a very difficult boat to sail well in a breeze. Once tamed, a sense of accomplishment tends to keep those in the class. The OK Dinghy is very cost effective. Many of the boats at the worlds were 10 + years old, and it made no noticeable difference to performance compared with the brand new boats. John Gibson's Botterill hull was 17 years old and finished fifth. Masts and booms can last 20 years, and the class has so far resisted moving to carbon spars on cost grounds, finding that the existing UK Needlespars and Australian Goldspar rigs more than adequate, and although expensive upfront, proving to have great longevity. Sails are relatively cheap, and can last a couple of seasons, whilst providing tuning and development challenges.
The best thing about OK Dinghies, and the most important factor in keeping competitive sailors in the class is the spirit of the class. The self - policing nature was mentioned above , and it is a real feeling of " lets get together, race hard but fairly, and I'll see you in the bar for a beer". A fairly simple philosophy, but obviously popular, considering that 3 other countries besides Australia required selection regattas to limit the numbers of those who wanted to come. Soren Krause, international judge and jury chairman summed it up when he said, to paraphrase " the OK Dinghy class has a really good thing happening - all of you need to work hard to keep it that way"
And the Melbourne OK sailors, long regarded as talented but flawed rebels in the Victorian sailing scene, standing at the Black Rock YC bar, would drink a toast to both their 4th World Title and the sentiments above.
Heat 2 , report Roger Blasse (AUS 678)
This race started late due to light winds and three recalls. 3 boats (Pol 6, NZL 30, Ger 622) finished with DSQs after being premature on the second start.
Finally getting away on the third attempt in a 8 to 10 knot south westerly. 2 boats, Jan(GER690) and Rainer(GER633) went to the right to come out ahead. Bushy(NZL501) was third at the windward mark. Light winds down the first reach bunched up the fleet while the two Germans scooted away. Bushy and Andre(AUS698) had a minor collision at the gybe mark with Bushy coming off second best. Places at the leeward mark were Jan 1st, Rainer 2nd, Andre 3rd and David Rose (GBR2084).
An increase in breeze up the second work saw the big boys make inroads into the leaders. By the top mark Andre had accounted for Rainer while a good run by Roger(AUS678) pushed him into third place.
A close last beat saw Andre mow down Jan to finish 1st, Jan 2nd with Roger a close third. With ever reliable car salesman fourth.
Heat 3, report Andre Blasse (AUS 698)
This was a race with 2 halves. It started around 4.30pm in 10-15 knots. With a 200 deg course with a good line and the black flag going up straight away, we had a clean start.
The fleet split into both sides and the middle. Near the top mark it was clear that the right hand side paid with Jan (GER698) and Daniel (NZL501) rounding first and second with Andre(AUS698), Roger(AUS678) and Carl(AUS697) close behind. The first reach saw Roger pass everyone. At the gybe mark Roger 1st, Andre 2nd, Karsten (GER672)3rd and Carl(AUS697) rounding in that order for the bottom mark.
The second work was quite eventful, the leaders went off to the left, with the rest off the fleet following up the middle or right. Nigel(NZL498) went hard left. As happens in Glenelg at around 5:30 pm the wind starts to move around to the SE. Many places were changed, with the leaders staying close together. Around the windward mark Roger, Carl, Andre, Nigel and Karsten. A course change was signalled to 320 deg. For the bottom mark, no changes occurred. The last beat saw the wind go around to the east, and everyone bunch up.
Final placings Roger, Carl, Andre, Karsten and Nigel.
Heat 4 , report Karsten Hitz (GER672)
Race 4 should have been started at 10.00. The fleet got off after a postponement.
The first beat in about 15 knots saw Andre Blasse (AUS698) first at the windward mark, Karsten Hitz (GER672) 2nd and Roger Blasse (AUS678) 10th. Roger was third at the leeward mark and moved to second on the second reaching leg. On the final beat a match race between the Blasse brothers developed Roger gaining first place, Andre second and Karsten third.
Heat 5, report Anders Andersen (DEN 1246)
Race 5 was started back to back after race 4. The wind was slightly stronger than in the morning.
Carl Schmidt (AUS697) was first at the windward mark Anders Anderson (DEN1246) second and Jorgen Lindharsen (DEN1280) third. Down wind Roger Blasse (AUS678) was fast as usual and rounded the leeward mark in second place. On the second beat Carl and Roger drew away from the rest of the fleet. Andre Blasse (AUS698) and Anders held third and fourth places.
The wind was a steady 20 knots so their was no change in the top four on the finish line. Jorgen Lindharsen was fifth and Hedley Fletcher (GBR2073) sixth.
Heat 6, report Hedley Fletcher (GBR 2073)
Race 6 followed a trip, by most, to the wonderful Barossa Valley the previous day. Sore heads were numerous, after very little sleep from certain competitors, many of whom had slept in the containers.
The race started in 12knots with a committee boat bias. Thomas Hanson-Mild(SWE2701) showed that the Swedes still had it in them to perform at the highest level. A shifting breeze paid for those who went left and Thomas led from Jan Ditmar-Dellas(GER698), Russell Wood(NZL500) 3rd, Bogus Moczorodyns(POL6) 4th and Hedley Fletcher(GBR2073)5th at the first mark.
The leading boats kept low on the reaches and opened up on the main pack. The second beat bcame a bit of a procession with everyone going left. Sure enough the breeze filled from the leftand Hedley took best advantage and led at the top of the run. Anders Anderson(DEN1280) took Hedley on the run and Roger Blasse(AUS678), who had been working his way through the fleet, rounded the leeward mark third.
These three battled up the last beat and Anders took line honours from Roger, Hedley finished third, with a huge hangover, Thomas was fourth and Daniel Bush(NZL501) fifth. Roger's brother Andre is his only threat for the title, Andre Blasse(AUS698) finished sixth.
Heat 7, report Mark Jackson (AUS 673)
Going into the final heat 7, the top boats were working out who had had to beat who. Roger Blasse was in front on points and basically had to ensure his older brother Andre or Carl Schmidt did not win and make him carry his worst race, a 9th in the first heat.
The race start was delayed several times as the building sea breeze continued to settle. The race started in about 8 to 10 knot SSW. The black flag came into contention again in the regatta with three boats sent to shore after the second General Recall. Finally underway most boats started at the port end and headed left on a port biased line and a lifting starboard tack. A small group of boats headed immediately to the right, the side which had generally paid on the first work of as building sea breeze.
While the boats that went left early looked the goods early, the breeze in shore on the port side of the course began to fade. About half way up the first work there were two distinct fleets, one left and one right, with the majority of boats heading to the left lay line. The breeze then filled in from the right with more pressure and about a 20 degree shift favouring the right. Needless to say all boats on the right hand side led around the first mark. First boats around were GER 698, Pol 6, Pol 31. The leading boats increased their lead on the reaches and at the bottom mark Pol 31 was first, Pol 6 2nd, AUS 673 3rd and GER 698 4th (120 kgs being a little slow off the breeze!).
The sea breeze failed to increase in strength and the lead boats increased their lead up the second work with team Poland going hard left and again 1st and 2nd at the top mark second time round.
Meanwhile back down the fleet, the contenders for the World crown were doing their numbers. How many points will a 50th place give me ? The Blasse brothers were back in the pack with Carl Schmidt. Karsten Hitz, 4th going into the last race was also back in the pack, while John Gibson in his first OK Worlds, 5th going into the last heat, was sailing in the top ten. At this point it was the drop that was coming into play. Andre had a 41 in the 1st heat while Roger and Carl were assured the last heat would be their drop.
The breeze continue to fade but the top three boats remained unchanged with Pol 31 taking the race from team mate Pol 6 and AUS 673 3rd. In the end we were lucky to get a race in as the breeze completely disappeared on the sail in.
Roger Blasse dropped the heat to win the regatta, Carl Schmidt and Karsten Hitz also dropped the race to finish 2nd and 3th. Andre Blasse had to carry his 39th in the race to finsih 4th overall and John Gibson 5th. Anders Andersen from Denmark finsihed 19th in the heat to get 6th overall.
Point System: "Olympic": 1st=0; 2nd=3; 3rd=5,7; 4th=8; 5th=10; 6th=11,7; place+6
|4||AUS 698||The Beast||A.Blasse||41||1||3||2||3||6||39||71.10|
|8||DEN 1280||J. Lindhardtsen||8||16||10||10||5||26||16||100.00|
|28||AUS 666||Choc Dog||P.Jackson||21||46||19||21||25||37||32||191.00|
|29||AUS 696||Change Of||P.Horne||14||12||44||16||40||41||34||193.00|
|32||GBR 2046||MT Vessel||A.Deaves||54||17||12||35||24||28||53||205.00|
|41||AUS 688||Y'Days He||P.Richards||16||62||48||38||44||35||37||254.00|
|44||NZL 503||Free Radi||D.Hoogenboom||12||27||34||36||DNF||33||DSQ||259.00|
|64||NZL 475||Rough Red||D.Munro||56||56||DNF||60||51||44||65||368.00|
|65||GER 634||1 NonBlonde||B.Taufenbach||57||69||65||69||66||46||30||369.00|
|68||AUS 689||Gee Why||G.Yates||68||59||64||55||55||43||63||375.00|