Please select your home edition
Rooster GETSEASMART 728x90

Black Rock YC welcomes OK Dinghy fleet for 57th Australian Nationals

by Robert Deaves 28 Dec 2018 09:00 PST 28 December 2018 - 3 January 2019
OK Dinghy fleet launching for Invitation Race at Black Rock YC - 57th Australian OK Dinghy Nationals © Lara Blasse

Forty OK Dinghies are all set to go at the 2019 Australian National Championship, at Black Rock Yacht Club, in what is looking like the most competitive fleet to contest the event for many years.

After the Invitation Race and Welcoming Ceremony on Friday, racing for the national title begins Saturday, with an early forecast of high temperatures and light to moderate winds.

All but two of the previous champions dating as far back as 1996 will be taking part. If the recent Sail Melbourne is any indication, the top three favourites will be ten time champion Roger Blasse, six time champion Mark Jackson, both from the home club, and Tim Davies, from Wangi Amateur Sailing Club, who was second at Sail Melbourne and has missed victory on a number of occasions. Last year's champion Rob McMillan is unable to defend his title. Other favourites include two times winner, Mike Williams, four times winner, Andre Blasse, both also from Black Rock

Black Rock YC is located on Port Phillip, just south of Melbourne, one of the main centres of OK Dinghy sailing in Australia. While visitors have come from Sydney, Adelaide, and Gold Coast to take part, Blasse and Jackson will have the home advantage; in fact sailors from Black Rock make up half the entire fleet. It is a particularly important event for many of the competitors, as it is the final event before the boats are packed to go to New Zealand for the 2019 World Championship at Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland, in early February. The boats are being packed into containers straight after the final race next Thursday.

The Invitation Race was sailed on Friday afternoon with most of the fleet taking part. While the weather continues to be hot and sweltering, at 12.00, a 20 knot cold front crossed Port Phillip, though by the time the fleet started to launch at 13.00 the wind was under 10 knots and dying.

At the scheduled start time of 14.00 the breeze was 10 knots from the south-east with a nasty south-westerly cross chop caused by the cold front. The first start was under 'P' flag and a heavily biased starboard line, which caused the first general recall. The breeze went further left and after a short postponement the Race Officer, Phill Collyer, tried again, this time with a strong port bias on the line. After another general recall, he then pulled out the 'U' flag and with another port biased line the fleet got away with only one boat, Steve Wilson, AUS 741, UFD.

The left side of the first beat was heavily favoured and those at the pin lifted inside the rest of the fleet. Shane Smith, AUS 77, was the left most boat and led all the way to the first mark in a breeze that continued to die to around 5 knots at the first top mark. In close second was Roger Blasse, AUS 749, with Tim Davies, AUS 779 in third and Elizabeth Williams, AUS 759, in fourth. Blasse had passed Smith by the gybe mark.

The second upwind leg was reset to port, with a long starboard tack as the breeze shifted 30 degrees right again. Blasse rounded the second windward mark in the lead from Davies and Smith. Behind them, Grant Wakefield, AUS 776, had passed a lot of boats down the run.

At the finish, Blasse, just held out Davies on the final beat to win by just eight seconds. Wakefield crossed third with Smith holding on for fourth.

Blasse said, "I was using the practice race to try out a new North sail and a new luff curve from a few days ago. I wanted to see what my boat speed was like early on in the regatta. The plan for the race was to sail clear of other boats. I started near the pin and rounded the first mark second behind Shane. I passed Shane down the first reach and then spent the rest of the race defending to Tim. Tim pushed right a couple of times and I took his transom, but managed to get back in front. I'm happy with my speed, I had good height but Tim was always pressing."

Smith added, "It was a tricky day, but my plan was just to have fun. I had no expectations having only sailed twice since the Worlds in Warnemünde [Germany]. I am also in a different boat with a different sail. I appreciated the light conditions and look forward to them lasting as long a possible."

In the evening an informal opening ceremony was held at Black Rock YC, with about 80 sailors, family and volunteers present. Commodore, Gary Lokum, thanked all sponsors: Rooster, Blue Peter and the Victorian Government.

He then led into a light hearted question and answer with the sailors, families and supporters before a gourmet barbeque was enjoyed by everyone before the regatta starts properly on Saturday.

Some of the Q&A:

  • Who can name all Williams OK sailors in the regatta? There were five and one not sailing. Michael, Elizabeth, Glenn, Brent and Don.
  • How many world champions were in the room? Only 2 - Peter Milne and Roger Blasse
  • Who is the oldest and youngest competitor? Oldest: Bruce Ashton (77) - twice Australian Champion; youngest: Emma Hutcheson (25), also gunning for the women's trophy
  • How many Australian championships have been held at Black Rock? 7 or 9. No one really could remember
  • How many national champions were in the room? Five. Bruce Ashton, Andre Blasse, Roger Blasse, Michael Williams, Mark Jackson.
  • Who has won the most Australian Championships? Roger Blasse - 10
Melbourne has experienced some unusual unsettled weather in recent weeks and this looks set to continue for first half of the national championship with a lot of cloud and changeable winds forecast. Two races are scheduled for Saturday starting at 13.00 with another difficult forecast. A 10 to 15 knot northerly is expected in the morning turning to 15 knots south to south-easterly around by midday.

Competitors may have to wait for the second half of the regatta to experience the traditional sea breeze, big wind and big wave conditions that has made Port Phillip famous around the world for its superb sailing.

The championship is separated by the New Year celebrations. Three days of racing are scheduled before a lay day on New Year's Day. Then the final two days of racing will be held on 2 and 3 January. Ten races are scheduled, of which five are needed to complete a series.

Related Articles

Fredrik Lööf is new OK Dinghy World No. 1
Only the seventh sailor to hold the No.1 place in the 14 years of the ranking list Lööf becomes only the seventh sailor to hold the No.1 place in the 14 years of the ranking list and the ninth to accumulate more than 1,000 points. With 1048 points, he also now holds the record as the highest scoring sailor since the list was created. Posted on 9 Apr
OK Sprint Championships at Burghfield
AKA The Burghfield Blaster This being the first open meeting of the year, many were put off by the forecast, whilst many other open meetings were being cancelled it looked like we were going ahead. Posted on 28 Mar
Individualistic choice of OK Dinghy Equipment
One of the overriding concepts from the man who created the class One of the key factors behind the astonishing worldwide growth and development of the OK Dinghy over the past 62 years was the intent that boats could be built by anyone, anywhere. Posted on 21 Mar
National 12s and OKs set for Burghfield
2019 Gul Series and HD Sails Inland Series kick off on Saturday The first event of the 2019 National 12 Gul Series and the OK HD Sails Inland Series will take place at Burghfield Sailing Club on Saturday 16th of March. Posted on 12 Mar
OKs at the Dinghy Show - Join Team 2022 now!
So why should you stop by for a chat? Fresh from the hugely successful World Championship in New Zealand, the resurgent OK Dinghy class will be exhibiting at this weekend's RYA Dinghy Show and invites all sailors to drop by for a chat. Posted on 28 Feb
Everything is OK at Symonite OK Dinghy Worlds
An outstanding success both on and off the water The 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship, which has just concluded at Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland, New Zealand, was an outstanding success both on and off the water. Posted on 19 Feb
Big Symonite OK Worlds fleet in NZ bodes well
The renaissance in the OK Dinghy looks to be assured after the Symonite OK Worlds in Auckland Three times Olympian, and now a top sailing coach, Dan Slater stepped into the OK Dinghy for the 2019 Symonite World Championships, and never dropped out of the top two places overall during the five-day regatta. Posted on 17 Feb
Slater under pressure for Symonite OK Worlds win
Dan Slater learned to sail on the North Shore venue for the 2019 Symonite OK Worlds Dan Slater learned to sail off the waters of Auckland's East Coast Bays and that was a big reason why he won the OK Dinghy world championships on Friday. Posted on 17 Feb
North Sails Weekly Debrief
OK Dinghy World Champ, See you there, J/24 Class Leader, Headstay Sag Dan Slater has won the 2019 OK Dinghy Worlds in Auckland, NZL hosted by Wakatere Boating Club. Posted on 16 Feb
Symonite OK Dinghy Worlds in Auckland overall
Dan Slater secures the World OK Dinghy title for New Zealand Dan Slater has won the 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship at Wakatere Boating Club after a challenging final day of racing with at first light winds, then breezy conditions, but always difficult and shifty. Posted on 15 Feb app (top)