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30 July 2007, 02:42 pm
CRAIG Takes Third OK World Title In Style
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OK Dinghy World Championship 2007
Leba, Poland

In Leba, Poland, Nick CRAIG (GBR) won his third consecutive OK Dinghy World Championship after scoring a second and a first in extreme conditions that tested all the sailors to the limit.

The fleet set sail this morning to the sound of a passing thunderstorm and of a loud rock band practicing on shore. An hour postponement to allow the wind to settle was followed by the first start in around 8 knots of wind. The forecast was for it to go right, and halfway up the beat this happened in dramatic style. The wind veered 10 degrees and increased by 10 knots in a matter of minutes. Those on the right just got richer and it was Thomas HANSSON-MILD (SWE) leading round the top mark from Jorgen LINDHARDTSEN (DEN). Unfortunately HANSSON-MILD broke his tiller and by the time he had fixed it was well back down the fleet. LINDHARDTSEN led round the bottom mark after the wind increased to some 25 knots. The next beat was the decider with Mark PERROW (NZL) taking the lead on a gruelling upwind leg in the still increasing wind and larger seas. Event leader CRAIG managed to pass LINDHARDTSEN and moved up to second and the places stayed the same on the run. Interestingly CRAIG was the only boat in the top five to attempt the gybe. Most of the fleet wore round. However, PERROW led up the final beat, with CRAIG second and LINDHARDTSEN in third.

The second race started in 20 knots and proved to be even more of a test for the sailors. CRAIG proved what World Champions are made of and led out of the start to the right side before coming back to cross the fleet and lead round the top mark. PERROW took the lead on the screaming first reach but broke his tiller and was forced to retire. At the gybe mark, most of the fleet could not see the buoy in the massive waves and again most of the fleet tacked rather than gybed in the extreme winds. The next beat and run were hard work for those that remained afloat or upright but CRAIG proved why he is World Champion by winning the race and the championship in style from Andre BLASSE (AUS) and Karsten HITZ (GER).

This championship has been one of the most open for a number of ears with five nations in the top ten. In the top 20 there were six from New Zealand, clearly showing form in the breezy conditions as well as four from Great Britain, three from Germany and two from Denmark.

When CRAIG receives the World Championship trophy he will be only the second person in the 50 year history of the class to win the title three years in a row. From 1991-1993, Bo Staffan ANDERSON (SWE) won three of his four world titles. CRAIG is now in a position to rewrite history at the World Championships next year in Warnemunde, Germany.

About the event

The 2007 OK Dinghy World Championships is taking place in Leba, Poland from 21-27 July. 118 OK Dinghies from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Poland and Sweden are taking part in the ten race series. The defending Champion is Nick CRAIG (GBR).

Robert Deaves (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Nick CRAIG chases down Karsten HITZ in Friday's extreme conditions:© Ania Pawlaczyk
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