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30 July 2009, 09:35 am
Tight At The Top Going Into Final Day At OK Dinghy Worlds
Thomas HANSSON-MILD (SWE)
Thomas HANSSON-MILD is in a two-way battle for the World title

OK Dinghy World Championship 2009
Kalmar, Sweden

The penultimate day at the OK Dinghy World Championship in Kalmar, Sweden has set up a fascinating final day for Thursday.
The top two sailors Thomas HANSSON-MILD (SWE) and defending champion Karl PURDIE (NZL) are now level on points with two races to sail and both are carrying an OCS from earlier in the week.

The sailors launched in blue skies and light winds, but all this was soon to change. By the time they had sailed across Kalmar Sound to the Oland shore, where the racing has taken place all week, dark clouds were gathering from the south. Open to the south, the waves in the Sound soon began to build.

Race seven started promptly as usual in a light breeze. Today's start was clean away at the first attempt under the blue peter. Although there is always fierce competition on the favoured part of the line, there is sufficient space for all to get a good start. As usual, Bartosz RAKOCY (POL) guarded his position at the pin end of the line with good boat handling skills. The majority of the 68 starters sailed the middle part of the course, though there were a few who banged both the left and right corners.

By the windward mark HANSSON-MILD had built a good lead and, once again he demonstrated an excellent reaching technique down the building waves.

However, PURDIE, who has been overtaken by HANSSON-MILD in the leader table today, said, "I was catching HANSSON-MILD on the reaches today and I am going faster downwind, but he has increased his upwind speed, so everything is equal now!" Lying second in the race as well, PURDIE was being chased by Andre BLASSE (AUS), Pawel PAWLACZYK (POL) and Greg WILCOX (NZL). WILCOX pulled up to fourth at the finish, otherwise the order remained unchanged.

For race eight, a moderate breeze had set in and the waves were quite pronounced, sufficient for the French competitors to say, "We do not get wind and waves like this on the Seine in Paris!" A line-shy fleet had a clean start at the first attempt, the majority choosing the port side of the course. At the windward mark, the leaders had again broken free of the chasing pack, building a substantial lead on the many participating club sailors whose legs were beginning to tire in these demanding conditions.

At the end of the triangle, HANSSON-MILD was in the lead again, though PURDIE had taken back some of the lead he had at the windward mark. BLASSE was again third, with Nick CRAIG (GBR) in fourth in front of WILCOX. Jørgen LINDHARDTSEN (DEN) had moved up to fourth place by the time the fleet rounded the leeward mark again. Once again there were no place changes in the top four on the final beat.

With two first places today HANSSON-MILD has moved to the top of the leaderboard, with just a greater number of race wins the difference between him and PURDIE. While the sailors at the front are not making many mistakes, virtually all have a high score on the board, so any mistakes in Thursday's final races could be very expensive.

Looking Ahead

The future of the OK Dinghy is in the hands of the youth sailors.

Andre BLASSE, the new President of the OK Dinghy International Association, is a firm believer in the development of a rig which is suitable for the sailor who weighs less than the 80+kg. His country, Australia, is actively developing a Junior rig, comprising a reduced sail area, whose configuration does not alter the dynamics of the boat or its handling skills. Progress is such that he feels he will be in a position to present final measurements for approval at the next AGM in February 2010. The Junior fleet is already expanding as siblings and friends join in OK Dinghy sailing, preferring the individualism that can be injected into an OK Dinghy rather than the Laser style of sailing.

My First World Championship

Richard BURTON (GBR), at 18 years old, is experiencing his first World Championship, competing for the Junior trophy. "I have been dreaming about going to the Worlds for so long, it was nearly an anticlimax when I started sailing," he said. "I sail on a reservoir near Oxford in the UK, so I needed to learn how to sail in waves; Terry CURTIS took me training at Weymouth so I could get in some practice. Since I have been here, I feel my boat tuning and my boat handling have improved, the next step is to improve my equipment - a carbon mast would be nice.

"I feel I am coping well racing in this big fleet, I look where the leaders are starting and try to find a place near them, it has worked on most occasions.

"I was 20th round the windward mark today, so I have got faster and faster upwind, but there are still a lot of boats in front of me when I finish. At the beginning I was very inconsistent, but now I am finishing in around 40th place, which means I am 46th overall at the moment. It is an amazing experience to go and talk to current and ex-world champions as they are all so helpful at offering tips on how I can improve my speed. I would love to go to New Zealand in 2010, but I may have to wait till 2011 for my next World Championship experience which will be in Largs in Scotland".

Hall of Fame

Two more names were added to the OK Dinghy Hall of Fame last night at the BBQ supper. Hans ELKJAER, the President of the Swedish national association, hosted the event at which Swedish sailor Bo Staffan ANDERSSON received his trophy in recognition of being the most successful OK Dinghy sailor ever - he won four World Championship titles in the late 80s and early 90s, as well as one European title and three Swedish titles.

In addition Basil CROSBY was awarded a posthumous position in the Hall of Fame for his work for the class. CROSBY's role in the establishment and ultimate success of the OK Dinghy as an international class cannot be overstated.

He was one of the founders of OKDIA in 1962 and was also secretary of the British OK Dinghy Class Association at the same time

CROSBY took on the role of British secretary when the job became too large for Richard CREAGH-OSBORNE, who up to that point had done almost everything in Great Britain. CROSBY was also later elected as the first secretary of the newly formed OK Dinghy International Association and he held this post until his untimely death in an air crash 11 years later in November 1973.

Sadly, he died before all his work to secure international status had been realised. The class didn't finally receive international status until 1975.

Without the enthusiasm and dedication of Basil CROSBY the OK Dinghy would not be success story it is today. His selfless contribution to the OK story is unquantifiable.

The two final races of the 2009 OK Dinghy World Championship are scheduled to take place on Thursday.

Results - click here

Mary Reddyhoff OKDIA
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