With a massive 32 point margin, Jim Hunt from Great Britain won the Dean & Reddyhoff OK Dinghy World Championships in Poole Bay sailed from 25 to 30 July from Parkstone Yacht Club with a maximum fleet size of 81 OKs.
In winning the event, Jim HUNT has become the first ever British sailor to lift the title in its 40 year history, and has done so in one of the deepest fields of talent ever present at a World Championship.
Leading from race one, Hunt only once fell outside the top 5 and on the way to victory calmed placed consistently in front of the defending World Champion Nitin MONGIA (IND), the winner of the previous week's National Championship, Nick CRAIG (GBR), double world champion Karsten HITZ (GER), current European Champion Bart BOMANS (BEL) and former world champions Greg WILCOX (NZL) and Jørgen LINDHARTDSEN (DEN).
Two races were sailed on Sunday and Monday in probably the most stable conditions of the week, with Hunt, Bomans, Hitz and Craig taking a win each. A solid westerly wind made for some great sailing conditions, but it was obvious from early on that this was going to be a high scoring regatta with Bomans scoring OCS in race 3, Hitz picking up a 51st in race 4 and the other challengers all adding a high score to their results.
For the next two days, the haze prevented any sea breeze building and all races were abandoned, although the fleet was at sea for 5 hours on Wednesday waiting for the wind to build.
On Thursday the race officer was determined to get three races in and kept the fleet afloat for some ten hours. Craig won the first race of the day in light winds to close the gap on Hunt who started badly and played catch-up to finish fifth. Hunt then led the next race by a large margin to take a second win and stretch his lead. In a very patchy and variable wind, Andrew Rushworth (GBR) went on to win the final race of the day with Hunt failing to recover from a large wind shift on the first beat to finish 28th. A 6th place for Craig moved him up to second overall.
The final day proved somewhat of a challenge for some. Race 8 was started in very light winds and saw several changes of pressure and wind direction. On the first reach the wind died completely and the sea breeze started to build turning it into a beat and at the bottom on the second reach - now a run - the windward mark was moved 100° seawards. Those who figured out what was happening made great gains moving from the 70s up to the top 20. Those who got it wrong, or were just plain unlucky, fell from the top 10 to the back. At the finish Rudiger PRINZ (GER) led his fellow German Ralf MACHMANN across the finish. The ever consistent Hunt came third.
Anxious to complete the series of 10 races, the race officer started race 9 soon after but then postponed it at the last minute. By the time it was restarted the race officer was running out of time so it was no surprise that this was the final race. Again characterised by large shifts, Joe POREBSKI led all the way to win by a large margin and take the massive race trophy home to New Zealand. Craig and Hunt rounded off a successful week with a second and a third.
Two fourth places on the final day lifted the 2003 World Champion, Nitin MoNgia into third place, while a relatively poor 13and 19, dropped pre-event favourite Bart Bomans out of the medals. With seven nations in the top 10 and six different races winners over nine races, the 2004 OK Worlds was perhaps one of the toughest in recent years, but the one with also the clearest winner. One of the UK's top dinghy sailors, Jim HUNT kept his head and his consistency to become a worthy world champion.
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