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Events OK Dinghy

2017 OK Dinghy National Championship

Fleet approaching bottom mark

The 2017 OK Dinghy National Championship was this year hosted by the Worser Bay Boating Club in Wellington and as usual, early on Day 1 the boat park was a hive of activity and banter, prior to the day’s racing. Wild predictions (of what the wind gods would hand out) were thrown back and forth, but it wasn’t a long wait for a clear signal from above that typical Worser bay conditions would prevail and the AP was up and rippling in a stiff 30 knot northerly. The banter continued, with the usual heavy-air specialists of the class showing quiet excitement at the prospect of racing at the upper limit, while others displayed symptoms commonly seen pre-race at Worser Bay, including trembling, sweating, wild staring, crying and praying. One particular boat was even packed up and towed at pace away from Wellington, without even getting wet.

Not satisfied with waiting around and having run out of banter topics, one of the larger sailors decided to put to sea to test the conditions. After a handful of gybes, a brief swim and some fun-looking reaches it was clear the conditions had moderated enough to start racing, so the decision to drop the AP was made and the banter quickly turned to focus as the fleet prepared for the first race.

The early practice had clearly given Russell “Mudsey” Wood an edge in Race 1 as he led the fleet around the top mark for the first time, having sailed in from the favored left hand side. The reduced course length (to allow for 3-4 races, given the horrendous forecast for the next 2 days) meant that Wood was immediately under pressure on the first reach from the trailing fleet. The charge was lead by Ben “Counsellor” Morrison who, in a truly visionary move, in recent times had made an effort to gain weight and join the one-ton club specifically for the event. Following close behind was Mark “Granny” Perrow, Steve “Lead Dwarf” McDowell, Daniel “Bushy” Bush and Paul “Gouch” Rhodes to complete the heavyweight division. Unfortunately for them Luke “Colt” O’Connell, one of the fastest reaching OK sailors on the planet, was also in the mix and had no trouble taking the lead by the bottom mark. The pressure was then put back on Colt as the fleet made it’s way up the second beat. Once again Wood found his way to the front around the top mark, followed closely by Morrison, with a small gap back to Colt who was around in 3rd place. With the race now on to the downwind finish, positions remain unchanged until late in the final leg, when Morrison caught a puff down the inside of the run taking him past Wood for the lead. Not to be outdone, Colt came in hot from well below the rhumb line to sneak into 2nd, right on the tail of Morrison who claimed the first race by a couple of lengths. Wood crossed in 3rd followed soon after by McDowell and then Perrow.

Counselor and Colt Neck and Neck

Race 2 started soon after the tail of the fleet had finished Race 1. This time the breeze was back up to a solid 20 – 25 knots. Bushy cleared out early, leading the fleet to the top mark and down the first reach in his favoured conditions. Close behind were Morrison and the Colt who were both pushing for the lead, while not far off the pace were Wood, Perrow and McDowell who were in a battle for the minor places. By the bottom mark, Colt had established a comfortable lead over Morrison and Wood who was now running in 3rd. Colt managed to hold off the big fellas up the final beat to clear out for a victory in race 2, followed by Morrison in 2nd and then Perrow who had slipped past Wood on the final run to claim 3rd.

As it turned out, Race 3 was to be the final race of the day. Sailed in champagne conditions of 18-20 knots, Morrison took an early advantage to lead around the first mark and down the first reach. Following closely were Bushy, then Wood who managed to take the top mark with him as he set off on the reach. Next in order were Perrow, McDowell and Rod “Coach” Davis, now finding his rhythm in the strong conditions. Further back Colt was beginning to make his move to the top of the order. Morrison kept the pace up into the bottom mark and again to the top as he established a dominant lead on the trailing pack. McDowell was second around followed closely by Wood, who had recovered from a penalty turn, and had leveraged a left hand shift to reach in at pace. Colt rounded in 4th and was looking menacing down the run as he swept past Wood and McDowell to immediately apply the pressure to Morrison. Closing into the finish it was all on between Morrison and Colt, that was until the Lead Dwarf entered the frame, from deep to leeward, where he managed to slip past Morrison and Colt to claim victory and the sacred Tiki. Morrison then Colt followed, with Perrow and Wood rounding out the top 5.

After racing on day one, Morrison held a slim lead over the Colt with McDowell in 3rd, and Wood and Perrow 4th equal on points. Normal proceedings followed with a BBQ for hungry competitors, followed by a few rounds of loudmouth soup for some.

The call was made for an early start for the second day of racing, with conditions forecast to start out fresh, and deteriorate throughout the day. As the fleet launched at 8.30am for a 9am start the breeze was already a solid Worser bay northerly of 20-25 real knots and it was obvious it was going to be a tough day on the water. One or two competitors who had (controversially) over-indulged the previous evening would pay a heavy price for their lack of discipline.

Morrison slips past Wood

Bushy launched himself from the boat end for the start of race 4, rolling over the fleet with immense power and pace, to lead the pack at the top mark. Morrison and Colt followed, only to pass Bush and clear out from the field by the bottom mark. By now it was clear the battle for the National title was between these two, who had shown a clear speed edge in these conditions all weekend. Rounding the bottom mark with a narrow lead over Morrison, Colt managed to hold on up the beat, and then sail away for victory with Morrison crossing close behind in 2nd and Paul Rhodes regaining some form to finish some distance back in 3rd.

Colty gunning it downwind

Points were equal between Morrison and Colt going into race 5, which unknown to them was to be the last of the series. Backing up his form from the previous race, Gouch led at the first mark in race 5, but was immediately under pressure from his old Worser Bay mate Joe Porebski, who had taken a huge flyer out on the extreme right-hand side of the track up the first beat to break into the leading bunch for the first time in the series. Morrison was next around followed by Bushy and Wood, with the Colt suffering from a bad start and poor first beat. Rhodes held on to the lead going into the bottom mark and up the first part of the beat, though the leading bunch were now well compressed and it was neck and neck coming into the top mark. With Morrison approaching the mark on starboard, Rhodes came in on port and, desperate to keep the lead, pushed his luck by tacking in front of Morrison inside the three-length circle. With Rhodes being forced to do penalties, his infringement handed the lead to Morrison who was now on his way down the run and heading for the finish, unaware of the Colt who had knifed through the fleet and was fast approaching from behind.

McDowell showed good pace all weekend

It came right down to the wire between these two, as Morrison managed to snag one last wave within meters of the finish to surge ahead for a win in race 5. This would ultimately hand Morrison the series victory and his 3rd National title with all remaining races being abandoned. 2nd across the line was Colt who came within 1 point of claiming his 4th title in a row. 3rd in race 5 was McDowell followed by Wood in 4th which reflected the final top four placings for the event.
All competitors had enjoyed the windy series and close racing at Worser bay with a lot of lessons learned ahead of the up and coming worlds at Barbados later this year.

Morrison claiming his prize
Colt with his favourite trophy
Colt with his favourite trophy

Bob Uppindown

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Events OK Dinghy

2016 Northland Championship

It was time once again to leave the cold city in the middle of winter and travel to the winterless north. 14 OKs made the trip up from Auckland to the Whangaruru Yacht Club in Oakura Bay, just south of Cape Brett on Saturday morning. The sun was out and there was a little breeze. There was a bit of a surf on the beach on the way out but the fleet managed to get out to the race area ok. While the race committee was setting the course, the breeze dropped to nothing, then filled in to about 6-10 knts coming straight off the land. The race management placed the top mark right under the point which made for some huge losses and gains to be made on the final approach as the breeze swung dramatically.

Race One. Straight out of the blocks was Eric ‘Wolf’ Rone and Russell ‘Mudsy’ Page-Wood, with Jono ‘Rabbit’ Clough right behind at the top mark. At the wing mark Rabbit had taken the lead and extended the whole race to take the win. Mudsy finished 2nd. and Mark ‘Orange Roughy’ Perrow finished 3rd.Race 2. This time it was Mark ‘Orange Roughy’ Perrow who rounded the top mark first but was hunted down by Rabbit on the first reach, who then extended for another win. Phil ‘Campervan’ Covney sailed a great race to move into second, showing great form from the recent OK Worlds in France; Wolf rounded up the top 3.Race 3. Wolf managed to lead the race from start to finish, but it was close. He had a massive lead halfway up the first beat, but fell into a hole. With Rabbit coming in from the left and Gordon ‘The New Marksman’ Simms charging in from the right, Wolf just managed to wriggle round the top mark first and extend a little on the run. Rabbit finished a close second with The New Marksman 3rd.Race 4. was quite shifty up by the top mark with some big losses and gains. Rabbit capsized on the reach to be last, Orange Roughy had taken the lead by the wing mark but then dropped the mainsheet to capsize slowly to windward and be passed by everyone in the fleet, retiring from the race. Marc ‘Dog’ Gris took the lead round the bottom followed by Mudsy, The New Marksman and Wolf. The fleet had bunched up round the bottom mark and was very close. Wolf sailed a good race to take his second win of the day. Mudsy got 2nd, The New Marksman 3rd, and Rabbit pipped Dog on the line to steal 4th.

That concluded racing for the day, and the fleet sailed in for a big BBQ and some beers at the Whangaruru Yacht Club. The drinking continued into the night with much discussion around the upcoming Worlds in Barbados.The next morning there not a breath of wind, and after some bacon and eggs, it was decided to abandon racing for the day.With the results standing from Day 1, Rabbit claimed the Northland OK Dinghy Championship, with Wolf in 2nd and Mudsy in 3rd. It was a great regatta, and one worth attending in the coming years.
Bob Uppindown

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Events OK Dinghy

2016 OK Dinghy Hurricane Classic

30 & 31 January 2016, WBBC, Wellington
By Bob Uppindown, BS Sports Publishing

The 2016 instalment of the OK class “Hurricane Classic” was run as per tradition by Worser Bay Boating Club in Wellington, New Zealand over the weekend of 30th & 31st January 2016.  Thirteen OK sailors from Auckland, Napier and Wellington competed in seven closely fought races over the two days in a moderate to strong southerly breeze.
Races 1 and 2 were won by Wakatere BC’s Ben Morrison of Auckland, who was chased hard by 3-time national champion and local hero Luke O’Connell.  It paid to work the right hand side of the course in both races as the Southerly continued to build through the course of the morning and fill in across the Bay, and before the outgoing tide began to build on the lefthand side of the course. 

By the time race 3 started the tide was running hard out in the shipping lane, and left was the place to be.  Morrison took an early lead but sailed into a lull on the flat run, which O’Connell capitalised on to take a much-needed bullet in a photo finish from Mark Perrow, with Morrison 3rd.  Race four was the windiest race of the day with gusts now over 20 knots and Russell Wood came to the fore, steaming up the first beat and leading at Mark 1.  Morrison passed Wood on the second reach and led the rest of the race to takeanother bullet, and the Tiki for Day 1, with Wood finishing Race 4 a close second and O’Connell finishing strongly in 3rd.

Overnight Morrison held a 2 point lead from O’Connell, with Perrow in 3rd.

Day 2 started with a slightly lighter southerly than the previous morning and, race 5 was started in approximately 12 knots.  Luke O’Connell made his intentions clear taking a solid win, while Morrison fought back from mid-fleet to take 2ndahead of [       ] in 3rd.  In Race 6, the breeze began to build and Wood led around the first mark with Morrison close behind.  The two breeze merchants then engaged in a close battle down the reaches, allowing O’Connell and Steve McDowell to blast through unopposed and sail away from the fleet, O’Connell establishing a big lead and taking another win in race six from Steve McDowell in 2nd and Mark Perrow in 3rd. Again the breeze had built through the course of the morning and the final race was to prove the windiest of the regatta.

Going into the final race O’Connell had 7 points after a drop, with Morrison on 8 points meaning the regatta would probably be decided by the final race.  The breeze built to over 20 knots and, just prior to the start, Race Officer (and sadist) Paul Davies changed to a longer three lap course (triangle, windward-leeward, triangle) just to make things interesting.  Local OK stalwart Paul Rhodes showed some of his old magic to lead around the first top mark from Perrow, with both O’Connell and Morrison back in the pack.  Perrow passed Rhodes on the first reach and opened up a good lead for the next lap, until a capsize on the flat run put him out of contention. The next five boats (Rhodes, O’Connell, McDowell, Morrison and Wood) were closely bunched at the bottom of the run and the wind direction was such that a gybe right at the bottom onto a beat was required – all managed to stay upright through the gybe but it was far from pretty.  The racing was hammer and tongs all the way up the following beat, and at the top mark, with two reaches and a short beat left to sail, Wood led followed by Rhodes, Morrison, McDowell and O’Connell in that order.  Morrison passed Rhodes on the first reach and Wood on the second, to take the lead with around 100m to the bottom mark – in the meantime, O’Connell sailed incredibly down the reaches to charge into 2nd just before the final mark, only to go straight into a mark-room altercation with Morrison, which resulted in O’Connell re-rounding the mark.  Morrison still had to complete the win to take the contest, and managed to just hold off a hard-charging McDowell, and Wood, to take the race win and with it the regatta.

A feature of the weekend was close racing throughout the fleet, with lead changes in most races and with all boats typically finishing within three or so minutes of the winner.

The next event on the NZOK Tour is Sail Auckland at Murrays Bay on Auckland’s North Shore on 24 & 25 February, followed by the OK Interdominion Championships at Manly, Whangaparoa (north of Auckland) over Easter.  Two containers full of OKs are expected from Australia, so it should be a great contest.

Full results are as follows:

PlaceNameSail No.Race 1Race 2Race 3Race 4Race 5Race 6Race 7TotalNet
1Ben Morrison (WBC)NZL56011312(4)1139
2Luke O’Connell (WBBC)NZL546221311(4)1410
3Steve McDowell (WBC)NZL545(5)4444222520
4Mark Perrow (WBC)NZL551432573(14)3824
5Paul Rhodes (WBBC)NZL557(7)5563633528
6Russell Wood (WBC)NZL52636(10)210554131
7Dave Hoogenboom NZL30388675(10)65040
8Rod Davis (WBC)NZL561(10)7788795646
9Eric Rone (WBC)USA5366(14)11146976753
10Chris Fenwick (NSC)NZL509141081298117258
11Adrian Coulthard (NSC)NZL53199129111287058
12Chris Devine (NSC)NZL548141113111311108369
13Hamish FenwickNZL50614129101213148470

© BS Sports Publishing 2016

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Events OK Dinghy

2015 OK Dinghy Turangi International Open

In the run up to the Turangi event, there was plenty of ballsy banter and bluster about who would be attending the famous Turangi international. It would appear that a seemingly innocuous comment about it being cold recently, put the frighteners on the majority of the fleet, with only 8 keen sailors fronting from Auckland, Wellington and Napier.

On the drive up, travellers were buffeted by the wind on the desert road, on the drive down, they were witness to white caps and squalls at Taupo and Hatepe.

After the usual greetings and handshakes, boats were rigged and sailors donned their superman suits ready for racing.  The tide was in this year, which made launching easy. A steady 12knots sped the boats to the start line, Wally setting the usual windward/leeward course. The 1st race saw the fleet having to hike, a decent breeze, with the occasional strong puff blowing through. The fleet was reasonably close, with positions changing frequently, the bullet being taken by Luke “Colt” O”Connell, 2nd Ben Morrison, and 3rd going to Paul “Gouch” Rhodes, making a welcome return to the fleet.

The 2nd race saw a drop in wind strength, with the fleet, pretty much all on the same tack running out of wind halfway up the first beat. The direction and strength changed frequently, and Morrison led around the first mark followed closely by Adrian Coulthard who soon took the lead.  Morrison then fell into a hole, Coulthard sailed away for a tremendous win (his first in this fleet) and Colt snuck through for second, with light weather specialist Daniel Bush taking 3rd.

The wind crapped out even more for Race 3, and Coulty was the 1st to suggest pulling the pin for the day in hopes of taking his first ever Tiki, with Bushy even starting to sail back to the beach. The start line was re-positioned at the other end of the course, and the boats sailed down to decide what was happening.

With the top mark in the middle of an oily glass mirror, the fleet persuaded Wally to start a 1 lap race, good progress was made half way up the beat, when all the fleet slowed and looked for pressure. Rob Hengst had plenty of pressure, banging the left and sailing to the top mark, and never looking back from there. Colt took another 2nd, with Simon “Pom” Probert taking a credible 3rd. This was the last race of the day, which meant Rob  won the Tiki. Rob had only won the Tiki once before, in 1998, also on Lake Taupo (although at Taupo rather than Turangi).

The boys adjourned to the Turangi pub for a steak dinner, followed by nightcaps at Perrow’s timeshare apartment.

Sunday brought breezy conditions in Turangi, although when the fleet got to Stump Bay, the wind was less, and the conditions looked almost perfect.

The first race saw half of the fleet heading left, the others middle / right, with gains made for the latter. The recurring theme for the day was to be other people leading the races, with Colt working his way up from deep (and in one case thinking he was over and returning to the start line), and still winning.  Morrison led around every first mark, but just couldn’t keep Colt out.  There were also lots of photo finishes, Coulty being pipped by Perrow a couple of times, and Colt pipping Perrow for the last race of the day, and with it another Tiki.
Colt won the awesome Turangi Trophy, Ben the Silver Trout, and Perrow the Bronze Trout.

Those that made the effort were rewarded with some close racing, and the great hospitality we always receive from Wally and his crew.

Next year sees the club celebrate its 50th year – this should be a special event, that is hopefully well attended by the fleet.

By Bob Uppindown
BS Sport publishing

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Events OK Dinghy

Peter “Rocky” Lester takes out inaugural Northland OK Dinghy Champs

There was much excitement in the air as OK Sailors convened at the Whangaruru Sailing Club in Oakura Bay for the inaugural Northland OK Dinghy Championships. Brainchild of Russell Wood, owner of a holiday section and bach in the area, as a welcome mini break for the OK fleet in the winterless north, plus enjoy more of the legendary OK dinghy fleet camaraderie. 

4 Races scheduled on Saturday with a 6-8 knot NW’er duly arriving after a short delay and it was on the water.  Race 1 start gun went and the fleet were off with Russell obliging by leading the fleet around the first triangle to show the way only to be passed by David “The Marksman” Hoogenboom wriggling thru up the second beat to lead the fleet home ahead of fast charging Peter “Rocky” Lester.The NW’er settled for race 2. Wood made no mistake this time taking the gun from Rocky Lester with another 2nd followed by David van der Wende. After two 3rd places and delighted with the decision to borrow Bushy’s boat David went on to show a clean pair of heals in Race 3 being heard to shout “go the left” and “I’ve gotta get one of these fasts boats for myself” only to remember he’s got one on the way when he takes possession of 530 later this year. Look out OK Dinghy fleet I have the right tools now to shake up the pecking order.

The Marksman hearing the call “go the left” took his advice with the perfect pin end start arriving in front at the top mark in race 4 with Eric “Wolf” Rone and Rocky Lester following close behind. Down the first reach the building breeze compressed the fleet with Rocky being run down. The Marksman and Wolf just managed to stay clear to the bottom mark followed by smiling Phil “Campervan” Coveny and Sefton “Paint Job” Powrie. The dying late afternoon breeze made it interesting with Wolf sniffing more breeze and leading The Marksman around the final top mark. 3 boats going for broke banging hard right came out smiling to turn next. In Waiuku parlance that’s called “Looking for the Mermaid”. Only ever found in the far corners of the beat but when found turns Zero’s into Hero’s.  Race finished with the Wolf first followed by The Marksman then Rocky with his worst result of the day and claiming the overnight lead. I think he now knows the Mermaid by her first name.

Day 1 done and on to the Barbeque being held at “Chateau Wood”, the cozy bach built by the Wood clan for holiday enjoyment for the whole family and hangers on. There was no shortage of meat supplied by the hungry guests supplemented by salads and chips from the local Chip Shop to round out a very pleasant meal. Tired bodies slowly drifted away during the evening leaving the stayer’s to finish 2 bottles of rum with the guaranteed hangover preventing mixer of ginger ale. The Colt swears by it we were told. Even the stayer’s resolve waned early, driven indoors by the cold mid-winter evening and most were back in their cosy dig’s by 10.Sunday dawned fine and clear, with more breeze promising to get the racing away on time at 10 for 3 more races to complete the full 7 race series. Rocky Lester had departed early on Saturday night and came out firing in race 5 with a wire-to-wire victory. Dave van der Wende after early form in the race was seen limping back to the beach muttering about poor boat maintenance after gear breakage to the borrowed flyer. He was not seen on the water again that day.

With a good 10-12 knots gusting 15 at times the racing was great for stretching the hiking legs and with plenty of shifts it kept things interesting. Conditions like these were to Russell’s liking taking his 2nd gun of the weekend from Mr Consistent Rocky Lester with Wolf always in the hunt.The final race saw a significant left shift just on the start making for a very difficult startline with the strong tide only adding to the misery. Rocky wanted the pin so bad he took the buoy with him dragging it away and gifting an easier start to all that followed behind. After untangling and restarting he hit hard left coming out in the top 3 at the windward mark to complete his magic tricks for the day. The dogfight for the first 3 places continued for the remainder of the race with Wolf securing the gun on the line followed again by Rocky with Russell completing the trifecta.

Racing done it was an enjoyable sail back to the beach for a leisurely packup, lunch and prizegiving. Peter “Rocky” Lester secured the win with ease. Never worse than 3rd and with a quiver of 2nd places. For his efforts he was awarded the recently acquired Northland OK Dinghy Trophy, an impressive Maori (“esque”) carved wooden obelisk with the fresh gouge marks from the recently removed original plaque still plainly visible. As suggested by the winner, who probably has more silverware collected from the highlights of a stellar yachting career filling all available trophy spaces at home, it was decided to keep the trophy at the Whangaruru Sailing Club clubhouse (“Lean to”) to wait for what will definitely be the 2016 Northland OK Dinghy Championships. 

Thanks go to the locals Travis and Rob and their better halves who managed the event plus a big thank you to Russell and the Wood clan who were the driving force to get the event off the ground. The water of Whangaruru harbour is a magical place to sail with easy launching from the Oakura beach. For anyone that didn’t front you missed a great weekends racing. Put it on your yachting regatta calendar for next year.
by Dave Hoogenboom 

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Events OK Dinghy

2010 OK Worlds, Wellington

Video of the 2010 OK Dinghy World Championships held at Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, 1 – 12 February 2010.