Sweden's Thomas HANSSON-MILD just did enough in a nail-biting final race to take the 2009 OK Dinghy World Championship title on his home waters at Kalmar.
The final day at the OK Dinghy World Championship in Kalmar, Sweden started with two sailors, current World Champion Karl PURDIE
(NZL) and Thomas HANSSON-MILD (SWE), on 13 points, each in a great position to win the World Championship. A tense final day produced some very close racing in testing conditions and the first Swedish OK Dinghy World Champion for 12 years. Sweden has produced more OK Dinghy World Champions than any other nation.
With a fresh breeze forecast, there was much speculation on who would win today's races and with them the Championship. HANSSON-MILD was looking the favourite, having won four races to PURIDE's three. With the wind holding steady at 8m/s, with gusts of 10m/s, some sailors had decided to call it a day, choosing to pack up their boats instead.
With so much resting on these two races, the 59 competitors jumped the gun on the first start and a general recall was called.
The black flag immediately instilled discipline for the second start at which there were no premature starters. An 18 minute beat to the windward mark saw boats bang both corners but the majority sailed the middle course. One of the leading pack capsized on the first reach, costing him valuable points, but the rest were soon gibing at the leeward mark, to sail the port side of the course. In the lead was Jørgen LINDHARDTSEN
(DEN), closely followed by Oliver GRONHOLZ (GER) and HANNSSON-MILD, with PURDIE on his transom.
LINDHARDTSEN increased his lead up the next beat and held it on the run to the leeward gate. HANSSON-MILD climbed to second place, with PURDIE and Andre BLASSE
(AUS) a short distance behind. They all continued on starboard tack for much of the beat to the finish, short tacking as the line approached. LINDHARDTSEN was first to finish, closely followed by HANSSON-MILD, but BLASSE forced PURDIE into fourth place.
With HANSSON-MILD on 15 points and PURDIE on 17 points, the Championship was very much in the balance. Once again the first attempt to start race 10 resulted in a general recall, but the second start was quickly underway under the black flag, again with no premature starters.
With the wind still oscillating between 8 and 10m/s and the waves becoming quite pronounced, the leaders chose the committee boat end to start. It is fair to say they were line-shy, but with so much counting on the last race for many of the top ten places, no-one was taking any chances. BLASSE was first to the windward mark, holding his lead on the two reaches, with Martin ZIMMERMANN
(GER), Pawel PAWLACZYK
(POL) and Gunter ARNDT
(GER) close behind.
Again PURDIE and HANSSON-MILD were inseparable in fifth and sixth places. Again the port side of the course was favourite, with BLASSE still leading the race. BLASSE still led the fleet at the leeward mark, with ARNDT second PURDIE third and HANSSON-MILD in fourth. A nail-biting final beat ensued with BLASSE, the new President of the OK Dinghy International Association, taking his first gun of the series. PURDIE was second and HANSSON-MILD crossed third.
With a full series of ten races completed, all that remained was the assembly of the overall results. A clearly delighted HANSSON-MILD became World Champion for the first time, beating the current World Champion PURDIE by just one point. HANSSON-MILD has competed in 14 World Championships and this is his seventh appearance in the top ten. His highest position before this year was third in 2001. Third place went to LINDHARDTSEN, sailing his best regatta for several years. In fact the scoreline of any the top four boats would normally be sufficient to take the series, but this week the racing has been extremely close. It has been one of the tightest championships of recent years and has ended with a very popular winner.
In 2010 the class travels down under to New Zealand in February where the World Championship will be sailed on PURDIE's home patch in Wellington. Who would bet against him reclaiming the title there? Watch this space.
Results - click here