Please select your home edition
Ancasta Botin Fast40

Symonite OK Worlds: Practice race in the beautiful seabreeze

by Richard Gladwell, 9 Feb 04:38 PST 10 February 2019
Dan Slater - 2019 Symonite Int OK Dinghy World Championships, February 2019 © Robert Deaves

The 111 boat fleet assembled for the 2019 Symonite World Championships had a final practice race today in champagne sailing conditions, off Takapuna Beach.

Half of the fleet pulled out after the first triangle and headed for the beach.

After two days of measuring, without any apparent drama, the competitors attended the opening ceremony and dinner at Wakatere Boating Club.

The big fleet for the single-handed class - designed initially as a trainer for the Olympic Finn - comes at a time when World Sailing has turned its back on single-handed sailing. The point was not lost on the sailors at the opening ceremony with references to the fact that the 2024 Olympic Regatta will contain only one singlehanded class - and one that most competitors at this World Championship would be too heavy to sail.

Ironically the OK has attracted a fleet of 111 at these Worlds, the Finn had 380 entries for the 2018 Masters Worlds, and had a full house on limited entry fleet of 90 places at the 2019 Finn World Championships.

The competitors cover a range of ages from teens to seventy plus, and from multiple Olympic medalists and four-time America's Cup champions to club racing regulars.

It's an eclectic group.

This is the first world championship ever staged at Wakatere Boating Club, which was founded in 1926, by a group of sailors designing and building sailing canoes. Wakatere is Maori for "fast canoe".

The first world championship for the class was held in 1970 off Takapuna and won by Swede Kent Carlsson. That was the first ever world championship sailed in New Zealand.

The regatta was also the launchpad for Peter Montgomery's broadcasting career when he covered the series live for radio. He went on to completely reshape the way yachting was commentated and reported, turn the sport into a compelling broadcast be it radio or TV.

The championships returned to Takapuna in 1977 as a memorial to 1973 World Champion, Clive Roberts - who had become unbeatable in New Zealand and was the dominant figure in the class an indeed New Zealand yachting. Roberts was sadly killed in a car crash in May 2005.

That world championship was won by New Zealand's Peter Lester, and was the Kiwis' first world championship win in home waters.

Two competitors in that World Championship, Bill Bell (AUS) and Dick Batt (GBR) have returned to Auckland serving on the International Jury and as Measurer for the 2019 World Championships.

The 1977 Worlds were also notable for the development of the class measuring jig by Alf Lock, which both speeded up the hull measurement process considerably, and found out several boats which did not conform to the strict class measurements, but which had been passed in their own country.

A beautiful varnished OK belonging to Jim Ley (Australia) was picked up in the measurement jig and rejected by the measurers, triggering a diplomatic incident with the Australian Ambassador being called on to intervene.

The 1970 World OK Dinghy Championships were a first for New Zealand with big fleets of OK Dinghies being sailed at various clubs, requiring the selection of a New Zealand to contain numbers within manageable bounds. Once selected the team trained together with a beach work out session before sailing.

One member of that squad is competing in the 2019 World Championships.

Olympic Finn class representative, Jonty Farmer was the top placed New Zealander finishing third overall. However, the regatta highlighted how New Zealand had to lift its standard through a changed more thinking approach, and by sailors working together and information sharing through a development program.

Clive Roberts became the first New Zealander to win an OK World Championship in 1973 at Falmouth, England sailing a hull designed by Alf Lock and built by Bruce Farr, who was working as a boatbuilder in Devonport the time.

Since then New Zealand sailors have won another 12 World OK titles - it is New Zealand's most successful sailing class. The class was also the first to send teams away regularly each year to compete in Europe and Scandinavia

As Clive Roberts noted in a piece he penned in 1974: "in 10 years 400 boats have been built, and a total of $60,000 raised [at a time when a house and land cost $25,000] which has enabled 250 positions for NZ OK sailors to compete in international yachting."

Although the 2019 Symonite World Championship is based at Wakatere BC, the racing will be held off Takapuna starting at 1300hrs on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (1100hrs start).

Related Articles

OKs at South Staffs
A challenging day's sailing for the 17 sailors The morning of September the 28th dawned grey and breezy at SSSC, but with the rain helpfully abating, 17 spritely OK sailors arrived for what would prove to be a challenging day's sailing. Posted on 30 Sep
OK Dinghy UK Nationals at Abersoch overall
Starting with a bang, building to a crescendo, ending with a whimper It could be said that the 2019 OK Nationals started with a bang, built to a crescendo of close racing and energetic socialising and ended with a whimper but one thing is certain - it is an event that will be remembered for all the right reasons. Posted on 10 Sep
OK Dinghy UK Nationals at Abersoch days 1 & 2
One of the strongest fleets in a while One of the strongest OK fleets in a while gathered at SCYC at Abersoch for their 2019 National Championships on Thursday 5th September to be greeted by a moderate to fresh breeze out of the North West. Posted on 7 Sep
International OK Dinghy Queensland Championship
Held over the weekend at Southport Yacht Club The 2019 International OK Dinghy Queensland Championship have concluded today at Southport Yacht Club in Hollywell, Queensland. The Championships were held on the Saturday 17 and Sunday the 18th of August. Posted on 19 Aug
Swedish OK National Championship in Marstrand
Thomas Hansson-Mild dominates the event to take his 14th National title Nearly 60 OK Dinghies from seven countries travelled long distances to sail the 2019 Swedish National Championship says as much about the current health of the class as it does about the beautiful venue that is Marstrand, host for 2020 World Championship. Posted on 8 Aug
Thomas Hansson-Mild is new OK Dinghy World No. 1
Swedish sailor has had a very successful season so far Former world champion, Thomas Hansson-Mild, from Sweden, is the new OK Dinghy World No. 1, taking the spot from his compatriot, the winner of the recent European championship, Fredrik Lööf. Posted on 10 Jul
OKs at Overy Staithe
Strong tide leads to racing being held in the harbour Nine OKs arrived at Overy Staithe for the annual OK Open Meeting, run every year since 1971. The wind was a fickle northerly in brilliant sunshine. Posted on 10 Jul
English Braids support the 2019 OK Nationals
Being held at The OK Class Association are pleased to welcome English Braids as a sponsor for our 2019 National Championship being held at South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club, Abersoch 5-8 Septempter. Posted on 6 Jul
OK Dinghy Europeans overall
Fredrik Lööf successfully defends title Fredrik Lööf, from Sweden, has secured his second successive OK Dinghy European title in Kiel with a race to spare after winning the first race of the day on the final day on Tuesday. Posted on 25 Jun
Kiel Week day 4
Hunger quenches his thirst for a 22nd title The international classes concluded the first half of Kiel Week today, with a German legend winning the 505 title after a few years in the wilderness. It was searingly hot in Kiel-Schilksee today, with temperatures touching over 30 degrees. Posted on 25 Jun
Zhik ATR Aroshell SW FOOTERNaiad 660x82px_TouristMelges IC37 2019 Footer