2008 East Coast OK Dinghy Championships

Steve McDowell sailing in the 2005 World Championships

Napier Sailing Club was the host of the third regatta of the 2008-2009 OK Dinghy summer series, 23 sailors attended the 3rd regatta of the season.

The conditions were typical for Napier at this time of year mid 20 degree temperatures and 3-8 knots of wind with lumpy seas.

Day one set the tone for the regatta with very close racing and four different race winners, local sailor Trent Pryce showed good tactical skill in the tricky conditions to take out race 1, however the winners spoils were shared between the Wellington sailors for the next three races, Paul Rhodes, Luke O’Connell and Steve McDowell took out races 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

Other sailors who were performing in the tricky conditions included a trio of Napier sailors, the returning Napier OK legend - Nigel Mannering; Rob Hengst in his beautifully prepared new icebreaker, and young Hawkes Bay Laser sailor James Sandall – all showed good speed and results in individual races.

At the end of day one however it was McDowell’s consistency - never finishing worse than third, that had him leading the regatta from O’Connell and Pryce, several other skippers had good races but didn’t have the consistency to be further up the leader board.

Day two saw slightly less winds of 3-5knots, off the start there was a large wind shift which resulted in McDowell being buried back in the fleet O’Connell took the lead managing to hold this for the race, McDowell recovered well to finish second with Sandall 3rd and Pryce 4th

Going into the last race McDowell had a one point lead from O’Connell who with dropping his worst result of an 8th had him back in the game, the race was another close one between O’Connell, McDowell and fellow Wellington sailor Owen Anderson.

Due to time constraints the last race was a much shorter affair and rounding the bottom mark for the last time O’Connell had a sizable lead from Anderson and McDowell, the breeze slowly increased to 8 knots for a time and this changed the game with McDowell very quickly cutting the gap to O’Connell, at the finish it was O’Connell who crossed 3 boat lengths ahead of McDowell, while at the other end on the finish line Anderson had picked a nice shift to squeeze in ahead of McDowell to take second.

Overall it was O’Connell’s three race wins that helped to give him the title from McDowell -who despite never finishing worse than 3rd had to relinquish the title he had won for the previous two years. Third place went to Pryce who also sailed a very tactically controlled regatta in the tricky wind conditions; no doubt he will be one to watch at the upcoming Interdommions and Nationals.

The next regatta will be the New Zealand OK Dinghy Nationals and Interdominions to be held in Wellington, 6-8 Feb. Over 40 boats are expected for this event with the Australians sending over one of their strongest teams in years, there will be a fierce trans-Tasman battle for the spoils.