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Roger Wood takes OK Dinghy NZ National title

by Matt Stechmann on 6 Jan 2013
OK Dinghies racing in the 2012 Hurricane Classiv, Lake Taupo . ..

It happened late, but like Rachael Hunter's shampoo it did happen - although he had sailed a fantastic contest up till now, the last day of the OK Dinghy Nationals arrived with the possibility of Russell Wood surrendering his hard fought lead.


As the boats headed to the start line, Woods must have been a little anxious as the breeze was well down and to compound his problems his three main rivals Ben Morrison, Paul Rhodes and Matt Stechmann all started the sixth race in great shape heading to the left hand side in clear air. The fleet split into two bunches and although the right looked good, for a while those who were patient to the left were finally rewarded. Tacking over, it was clear that the left hand boats would lead in. Woods at this stage was with the leaders but made a small mistake near the top and the group pounced. Ben Morrison sailed the top half of the beat perfectly, taking the last two shifts beautifully to lead round the top by 25 seconds.

Rhodes was second round followed by Rob Hengst, Jake Weekes, Nige Mannering and Matt Stechmann. At the wing mark, Morrison was still 30 seconds clear. Stechmann took the high road and passed all but Rhodes. Wood, back in the early teens, must have rolled his eyes in disbelief as his three rivals now filled the first three places. The second work was a repeat of the first with the boats all heading left. The breeze up a little now, Woods picked up a couple but still had to watch as his rivals took the top spots. The run was a drawn out affair as the breeze once again died. Turning for home, Morrison had a good margin on Rhodes.

Stechmann had closed in on Rhodes but now had Nige Mannering for company. Woods dropped a couple down the run and turned for home 12th. At the line, Morrison took a comfortable win from Rhodes, Mannering pipped Stechmann on the line for their third photo finish of the event. All eyes now turn to Woods. As the boats all converged on the line it was clear the title would go down to the last race as Woods crossed 10th.

Woods now carried eight points, Morrison 13, Rhodes 14 and Stechmann 17. Some quick calcs revealed all could still take the title. A perfect ending to any National Title loomed.

The final race got underway in a nice eight knot southeaster. A massive dark cloud dragged the breeze right a little but most felt the breeze would swing back once this passed. Off the line, the four main players were all together off clean at the leeward end. Within minutes it was obvious the left wasn't going to pay as a group of boats that started on the boat and tacked early and tacked back on more lifting breeze out to the right made a huge jump.

Steve McDowell won the race right there. At the top, McDowell was over a minute clear as a huge gaggle of boats rounded together with Chris Fenwich, Peter Schuearl and Luke O Connell at the sharp end of the bunch. Morrison and Woods rounded together 10th and 11th Stechmann 15th and Rhodes back in 22nd. Down the reaches the front three pulled away.

Wood wasn't letting Morrison out of his sights and there cosy little twosome was soon three as Stechmann sailed into their bunch. Up the next work, Woods worked Morrison to the left. Stechmann went on the attack and worked the right to good effect. At the top, McDowell still lead from Fenwich. Schuearl and O Connell, Stechmann had jumped to fifth with Nige Mannering sixth. Woods and Morrison still together had dropped into the early teens as there trek up the left had failed miserably. down the run O Connell showed the new Woody's had pace by dispatching of both Fenwich and Schuearl. on the final turn for home McDowell only need to cruise along in front - similarly, O Connell now with a good margin to Fenwich. the points situation at the bottom made interesting viewing. Rhodes having a shocker always had a fourth up his sleeve as a drop so, could do no worse than 18 total.

Wood needing a better result than 10th, found himself 12th on the turn for home. Morrison back in 13th could also see his second turning into a fourth as Stechmann had enough boats' gap to jump him for third. with the breeze now into the low teens, Woods was never going to be denied. he turned on the power up the last work and with a favourable left shift managed to jump from 12th to sixth on the line and secure his title. Mcdowell took a comfortable win in his new Leech OK followed by O Connell in the sistership, Nige Mannering slipped in for another third only seconds before Fenwich, Schuearl, Woods and Stechmann.

So Wood had his title on 14 points, well deserved! His defining moment of the contest being his third place in the tricky race 3 in conditions not suited to the big fella. Paul Rhodes took another National's second place and defending Champ Ben Morrison showed champion qualities to fight back from a first race OCS is be a contender at the death.

A very relaxed prize giving dinner took place at Shed 2. As well as the first three awards went to Jake Weekes for the junior champ, Rhodes for the over 50s and Marty Pike took out the over 60s on countback. Rob Hengst was a very popular winner of the personality award. An OK sailor through and through, Rob has played a huge part in the Napier fleet for years and along with Chris Fenwich put on a fabulous regatta. many of the ideas for this contest will be carried forward to future events, mainly afternoon races as all enjoyed the relaxed morning atmosphere and chance to enjoy the evenings a little more without having to rise too early!

Special thanks to the Napier sailing Club, Gerry Martin and his race team for getting the racing away in some tough conditions and to all the volunteers for making the regatta a success.

Next year's event will take place in Wellington and it is hoped our Anzac friends will make the trip for an Interdomion.

2013 National Championship

Napier Sailing Club

30 Dec - 4 Jan
2013 National Championship
#Helm NameSail NoClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7TotalTot-1
1Russell WoodNZL 526Wakatere BC11312962314
2Paul RhodesNZL 517Worser Bay BC242442153318
3Ben MorrisonNZL 530Wakatere BC26 OCS6123184721
4Matt StechmannNZL 524Worser Bay BC521251473624
5Steve McDowellNZL 545Worser Bay BC357115613827
6Nigel ManneringNZL 512Napier SC26 OCS31036335428
7Joe PorebskiNZL 523Worser Bay BC7841081431 DNF8251
8Adrian ManneringNZL 504Napier SC6156691896951
9Peter ScheuerlGER 618Norddeutscher RV427 DNC111371347952
10Luke O'ConnellNZL 546Worser Bay BC1024 DNF147151228460
11Kagen WeeksNZL 485Horowhenua BC26 OCS1458125219165
12Rob HengstNZL 533Napier SC827 DNC199138109467
13Jake WeeksNZL 51Horowhenua BC26 DNF138141111119468
14Chris FenwickNZL 509Napier SC1116182018759575
15Rod DavisNZL 511Wakatere1599171610209676
16Marty WeeksNZL 479Napier SC91013151431 OCS1811079
17Adrian CoulthardNZL 531Napier SC127161620161410181
18Miles AddyNZL 482Wakatere BC1312201917201711898
19Brett GrahamRSA 32Wakatere BC29 DNC27 DNC1512102119133104
20Chris DevineNZL 454Napier SC16112418192322133109
21Martin PikeNZL 536Napier SC17182223212613140114
22Evett NyzinkNZL 515Napier SC1817172231 DNF1723145114
23John ShirleyNZL 539Napier SC14212131 DNF31 DNS1912149118
24Julian BishopNZL 516Worser Bay BC21202325222425160135
25Sefton PowrieNZL 90RNZYS20222624242524165139
26Mike O'DwyerNZL 518Napier SC29 DNC27 DNC2531 DNS31 DNS1516174143
27John HoogerbrugNZL 493Napier SC1919272131 DNS31 DNS31 DNS179148
28Nigel ComberNZL 510Wakatere BC29 DNC27 DNC2826232226181152
29Matt PerryNZL 458Worser Bay BC29 DNC27 DNC292731 DNS2728198167
30Bruce EllinghamNZL 466Napier SC29 DNC27 DNC3031 DNS31 DNS2827203172

30 competitors, report to follow

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