The Australian OK Dinghy Championships has been unpredictable on the third day of racing as changing wind strength and direction makes the competition a little bit challenging for the participating sailors.
Wind forecasts for day 3 of the Australian OK Dinghy Championships could not agree on strength or direction and what transpired was exactly that – a mixed bag. The wind preceding the first race start of the day was a pleasant and steady 8-10 knot south easterly that held until the second beat before dropping away and filling in again, creating a momentary pause to progress.
As usual, there was an each-way bet with much of the fleet heading right to the Wangi Point shore and the rest to sea. It appeared that less wind to the right would penalise those venturing to shore but at the end of the beat they found nice pressure and lifts to dominate.
Series leader, Mark Jackson lead Wangi local, Mark Skelton with both extending their lead during the reaches, again heading right and to the shore. They reported later that their decision to finally tack to the mark was because they ran out of water. And even proportion of the next bunch split to either side and all managed to keep in touch, with Peter Horne, Mike Williams and Tim Davies rounding some distance behind the leaders for the run.
During the final beat the wind dropped away and for a while neither side of the course offered any advantage. In close proximity the two leading Marks were locked in battle and as the wind filled back Mark Skelton was able to pass Mark Jackson for his first race win, delivering five different race winners. Tim Davies picked the wind minefield better than the rest to cross third, then Mike Williams, Peter Robinson and Andre Blasse.
The second race was delayed waiting for the wind to settle and eventually got underway after four o’clock. A significant shift at the start gun forced the entire fleet onto port tack and then into a dying breeze that dropped to only three to four knots. The fleet ghosted to the top mark with light weather specialist Bruce Ashton first followed by Mark Skelton.
Again the wind dropped away and, mysteriously, some boats found zephyrs of breeze and whispered past stationary boats only metres apart. Mark Jackson found one such zephyr and led at the wing mark followed by Peter Robinson.
Predictably, the fleet split evenly at the bottom mark with the Victorians, Mark Jackson and Bruce Ashton heading right and locals, Peter Robinson and Mark Skelton left. With the wind very light it was Mark Skelton who ventured furthest and found the edge of the sea breeze to lead at the top mark. The run was the final leg of this race as, with the time limit approaching and the remaining wind dying, the race committee shortened the course.
Mark Skelton made this his second win for the championships with Mark Jackson second followed by Bruce Ashton and Peter Robinson. Closely behind were David Ketteridge, Mike Walker and Glenn Yates with their best places yet for the regatta.
The light and patchy wind took their toll on many in the fleet with some series leaders recording a drop for the regatta in this race and around ten boats didn’t make the time limit.
With a very consistent score line, Mark Jackson comfortably leads the championship and with two great results for the day Mark Skelton has a clear gap to second place. With one final race to sail on Wednesday, the minor places are wide open with a number of boats within only a few points of each other.