The International OK Dinghy World Championship 2011’s first day welcomed sixty-six sailors from three continents to Largs Sailing Club on the west coast of Scotland to participate in the 49th ‘Scotty Brand’ World Championship.
The practice race was scheduled to commence at 1400, but a flat sea and limp flags was the view from the balcony of Largs Sailing Club at 1300. However the wind was filling in at the race area north of Cumbrae Island and fifty-five competitors launched in anticipation of some good racing in the building breeze and glorious sunshine. A general recall was the outcome of the first start, but in minutes the race was restarted with all away and favouring the port side of the course.
First to the windward mark was Thomas Hansson-Mild (SWE) world champion in 2009, with Simon Hoult (GBR) second and Greg Wilcox (NZL) world champion in 2002, in third place. As a premature starter, Hoult left the race area as the fleet continued to the wing mark, with Thomasz Gaj (POL) moving up the third place. These places were maintained to the leeward mark, with 15 seconds separating each of the top three sailors. The wind was beginning to build for the second beat, whipping up a short chop causing the fleet to spread out.
Although the majority repeated the beat on the port side of the course, Martin Von Zimmerman (GER) hit the starboard corner to arrive at the windward mark just behind Hansson-Mild and Wilcox. Nick Craig (GBR), three times world champion this century, also made big gains to round in fourth place, with Alistair Deaves (NZL) close behind.
The run to the leeward mark was uneventful with Hansson-Mild rounding first for the final beat. He sailing the middle course as Wilcox went hard left and Von Zimmerman repeated his successful tactic going hard right. Hansson-Mild took the bullet, Wilcox was a clear second as this time the port side of the course paid and Von Zimmerman was third. Gaj had a good last beat to finish fourth and Craig fifth.
Thomas Hansson-Mild was pleased with his win commenting ‘the practice race is not always finished and I had considered quitting at the bottom of the run, but as Largs is a tricky place to sail I decided to take what I can get!’ Hansson-Mild also won the Sven Lehn Memorial Saver for the practice race last year in the Wellington, New Zealand World Championships, sharing none of the superstitions that some sailors hold for winning the practice race.
The Opening ceremony followed shortly after. The competitors and their families were led by the Boys Brigade Pipe Band from The Pencil Monument (commemorating the last Viking battle in the UK and won by the Scots).
A nominated member from each country carried their national flag and led their team back to the Largs Sailing Club where the Commodore, John Ridley welcomed everyone to the event. John Kent, Chair of the Scottish Sailing Institute and the Deputy Provost also extended warm welcomes to the competitors. Andre Blasse, President of OKDIA, responded by thanking all the organisers for their commitment in the creation of this event.
OK Dinghy website
International OK Dinghy World Championships 2011 - Neil Goodhead