The 2019 OK Dinghy World Championship is due to begin in just 100 days time in the iconic sailing area off Takapuna on the North Shore of Auckland, New Zealand. The championship will run from 7-15 February 2019 and will be based at Wakatere Boating Club and, with just over three months to go, preparation is in full swing.
The OK Dinghy worlds represents a big milestone for Wakatere, as it will be the first time the club has hosted a world championship, and every effort is being made to provide an event of the highest quality, both on and off the water.
In recent years, Wakatere has become the centre of OK Dinghy sailing in Auckland, and arguably New Zealand, with a club fleet that has grown to more than 45 boats and including sailors such as Rod Davis (multiple Olympic medallist, America’s Cup sailor and coach), Dan Slater (multiple Olympian in the 49er and Finn), Matt Mason (multiple America’s Cup campaigns), and several multiple national and international title winners in the OK class such as Ben Morrison (three New Zealand titles), Russell Wood (two New Zealand titles) and Mark Perrow (two New Zealand titles).
It was therefore the natural choice to host the championship, which comes to New Zealand on an eight-year cycle.
More recently, current World Youth Laser Champion Josh Armit, son of long-time OK Dinghy World Champion, Leith Armit, has joined the Wakatere OK Dinghy fleet and is training hard for the world championship – watch out for Josh downwind, blink and you’ll miss him.
Wakatere BC Commodore, Simon Probert, says that the club is primarily, a family and community focussed dinghy sailing club. He makes the point that, while high-performance sailing is not the club’s primary focus, it is notable that one outcome of the club’s ‘grassroots’ ethos has been that Wakatere has now grown into one of New Zealand’s powerhouse sailing clubs in terms of high-performance, with a strong and growing membership and an impressive record of producing champions at national and international level.
Wakatere BC Commodore Simon Probert sailing in the
2018 World Championship in Warnemünde, Germany
Free entry for selected junior New Zealand sailors
The junior OK Dinghy title will be on the line as part of the event, and New Zealand aims to put the strongest possible junior team on the water. To help facilitate that, the New Zealand OK Dinghy Association and Wakatere Boating Club, with the generous support of Victoria Cruising Club, are offering a number of free entries to junior sailors. As a starting point, two free entries are available to Wakatere members, one to another Auckland-based sailor (who does not need to be a Wakatere member), one to a Napier-based sailor, and one to a Wellington-based sailor. To be eligible to compete, a sailor must be under 21 years of age.
To apply for selection for one of the free entries, sailors should send an email setting out their case for selection, together with evidence of age, to Wakatere’s Commodore Simon Probert at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK Dinghy fleet sailing off Takapuna
Stellar fleet expected
All indications are for a fleet size of more than 100 at the championship, which would make it the biggest southern hemisphere OK Dinghy worlds in history. Full containers are already confirmed from the UK, Germany and Australia, with further entries expected from Denmark, Poland, Sweden, and the US.
The quality of the fleet looks to be very high as well – as well as the top Auckland-based contenders, other New Zealand sailors will include the likes of four-time New Zealand champion Luke O’Connell, and 2002 World Champion Greg Wilcox, who will travel from his current German abode. From the rest of the world comes a stellar line-up, including five-time OK Dinghy world champion, Nick Craig, sailing superstar Freddy Lööf, former World champion Thomas Hansson-Mild, and many other top-pedigree competitors.
Iconic race area
Racing will take place on the waters off the northern end of Takapuna Beach, the same waters as the famously televised 1977 OK Dinghy Worlds, the 2017 Finn Gold Cup, and many other sailing contests over many decades.
Conditions in February can usually be expected to be warm, and include a mixture of light to moderate offshore (north-west to south-west) breezes and moderate north-easterly sea breezes – although, as we all known, when there is a worlds on…. “it isn’t usually like this.”
All told, it looks like being a classic OK Dinghy worlds. More updates to come soon.
Sustainable OK Dinghy Worlds – Sailors for the Sea
Wakatere BC is pleased to announce that the 2019 OK Dinghy Worlds is a registered Sailors for the Sea event.
The Sailors for the Seas Clean Regattas programme is designed to assist events and local communities to adopt standards and practices that will mitigate the effects of unsightly and environmentally unsafe refuse. The programme defines 25 best practices with guidelines on how to run any water-based event in a sustainable way.
The club’s goal is also to make this the most sustainable OK Dinghy World Championship to ever.
OK Dinghy World Championships are starting to attract huge fleets
2018 OK Dinghy Rum Bucket
Early indications of local form were put to the test at the recent OK Dinghy Rum Bucket, held at Wakatere Boating Club, Auckland, over the weekend of 20-21 October. A strong fleet of 35 boats was entered, and the forecast was for light airs and fine weather.
Race 1 looked like a pin-favoured start line, with an incoming tide suggesting the left side of the course would be a sensible option. Napier’s Rob Hengst tacked at the boat-end on the starting signal, sailed all the way to the right hand corner, and led the fleet comfortably around Mark 1. Paul Rhodes was in hot pursuit, and would eventually take the lead and win the race, not bad considering he had just launched his new boat that morning. Hengst hung on for an excellent second, while Steve McDowell sailed a solid race for third.
The highlight of Race 1, for many sailors, was a contest many had been anticipating when current world Laser youth champion, 16-year old Josh Armit, attempted to roll over the top of current national champion Luke O’Connell down the first reach. O’Connell has long been feared on the reaches, and as Armit came up and steamed to weather, O’Connell luffed him hard. As they headed off to the open Pacific, the rest of the fleet waved them goodbye and got back to racing. This time, Armit couldn’t make the pass stick and was forced to choose between spending the rest of the day stuck in irons, or falling back in line. He chose wisely…and followed up by sailing straight past O’Connell to leeward.
Race 2 saw Rhodes sail another great race with a second just behind Andrew Philips, who took the race in his distinctive black and yellow boat, with Armit taking third and showing that the presence of so many experienced, senior sailors didn’t worry him all.
After an uncharacteristically poor start to the contest with a 24th and an eighth, O’Connell found his way to the front of the fleet in Race 3 and sailed away for a solid win. Armit continued to improve with a second, and the old Sultan Mike Wilde showed excellent form with a third.
With the wind dying, and the siren call of on-shore refreshments beckoning, the fleet returned to shore after a great day’s racing. Rhodes and Armit shared the lead with 14 points apiece, and nearly every sailor had at least one high-scoring race to his name in the shifty conditions.
Sunday brought a change in wind direction to the west, and the race area moved to the world’s race area off Takapuna Beach. Four light-air races would be sailed in a day characterised by big shifts and ferocious competition.
Race 4 got underway with a left-hander that Joe Frazier would have been proud off, Philips got it first after pulling off an aggressive start and sailing away for a brilliant victory, his second of the contest, followed by Rohan Lord who was starting to show signs of serious light-air pace, with Rod Davis also showing speed and cunning to take third.
Steve McDowell tacked into another left-hander in Race 5 to lead at the first mark followed by Ben Morrison, Phillips and Armit. McDowell was not to be denied, and sailed a perfect race for the win, with that lover of all things light and shifty, Alistair Deaves coming through for a well-deserved second, with Chris Fenwick in third, after Morrison had been OCS.
Race 6 put the final nail in the coffin for O’Connell who was OCS, forcing him to carry his 24th from Race 1. This time it was Lord who sailed the shifts the best to take the gunsmoke, while Armit started to close his grip on the Rum Bucket with a solid second. Wakatere’s Eric Rone was third, making the top three for the first time. Race 6 was also notable for the biggest right-hand shift of the contest up the middle beat, and except for a few lucky escape artists, the back half of the fleet swapped places with the front half.
Race 7 was the final race and started with (for once) a relatively even line, and shifts coming down both sides of the track. Deaves and Morrison, having started in the middle of the line, finally got in phase with those shifts and were first and second around Mark 1, followed by Rhodes, Davis, and Armit. Armit came through brilliantly on the reaching legs to take a lead he would never relinquish, taking the final race, Tiki glory and the Rum Bucket in fine fashion. Morrison was second and would be allowed to keep this result, while Rhodes was third in a good effort after what had been a testing day.
So young Josh Armit (pictured) took the Rum Bucket and sent an early message to the OK Dinghy fleet. Eric Rone also showed that he has his act together with a well-deserved second, while Steve McDowell claimed bronze.
All texts by Bob Smith, BS Sports Publishing