OK Dinghy Nationals 2013 - Mark Jackson regains title after 10 years

Australian OK Dinghy Championship 2013
Julie Brown
The Australian OK Dinghy Championship 2013 came to an end on Thursday with World Champion Mark Jackson beating former champ Michael Williams (second placer) and Mark Skelton (third placer) to win his second OK Dinghy national title after a 10-year drought.

After an 'unseasonally' light week of fickle breezes, the final race of the Championship took place in a nice 12-15 knot south easterly. With a slightly biased line, those up the boat end enjoyed an advantage from the gun. Unfortunately the youthful Bruce Ashton (70+ years) was a little too eager and broke the start, only to learn his fate at the end of the race.

Up the first work Mark Roberts, Michael Williams and Andre Blasse appeared to have the best speed and opened up on the fleet. At the top Roberts had a small lead from Williams with Blasse in third and Drummoyne sailor 'Cracker' Horne in fourth. Those four opened up a bigger lead on the trailing pack down the reaches with Mark Jackson, and local sailors Mark Skelton and Eddie O’Donnell also coming into contention by the bottom mark.

During the second upwind those who played the left side gained on those who had chosen to go right with Williams, Blasse, Skelton and O’Donnell etching out a nice break on Jackson, Horne and Roberts. Also coming into contention with a well sailed work was Folkert Janssen, Tim Davies and Gareth Wells.

Down the run Williams and Blasse extended on their lead with Jackson and Horne in third and fourth around the bottom mark respectively followed by Skelton, O’Donnell and Roberts. An infringement by Davies on Roberts resulted in a penalty turn and took him out of contention.

On the beat to the finish the leaders headed left, but unlike the previous work, the right paid allowing the gap to close. With bodies starting to fatigue, Williams was just able to hang on for the win, which was good enough to allow him to take second place overall and relegate Skelton to third. Blasse finishing second was also enough to capture fourth in the Championship on a count back from Horne who finished fifth.

Accepting the coveted Championship trophy, a humble Jackson thanked Mike Williams, who over the past three years has all but dominated the Championships, for driving him to find that little bit extra.

The Patrick Whittington handicap trophy was won by Folkert Janssen who sailed consistently well over the week. At a lazy 6ft 4 and 90 something kilos Janssen is likely to be a force in the future. The trophy for first veteran went to Mark Jackson. First master was Bruce Ashton, who finished eighth overall in the Championship and continues to amaze all in his ability to sail fast in most conditions - despite the fact that he won his first championship well before Michael Williams was even born! First female was Elizabeth Williams. A true inspiration 'Lizzy' sails better than many of the blokes, is a downwind flyer and like her brother, pretty damn clever on the water to boot. First junior was Jake O'Donnell - the latest in a long line of OK-sailing O'Donnells.

So another OK Championships has come to an end. Next year we find ourselves at Black Rock Yacht Club – the home club to the Blasse brothers, Michael Williams and Mark Jackson. Out of interest these 4 have held the championship trophy between them for nearly two decades. Is there something in the water down there??