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Symonite OK Worlds: Kiwis make the front running - Day1

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/NZ 10 Feb 2019 04:20 PST 11 February 2019
The top three in Race 1 exit from Mark 1 - Symonite OK World Championships - Day 1, February 10, 2019 © Richard Gladwell

The 111 boat fleet struggled with the elements more so than with each other, on the opening day of the Symonite OK Worlds.

A fresh sea breeze in the Waitemata Harbour gave way to a much lighter version of the same in the race area alongside the Rangitoto Channel.

Then followed a familiar formula for OK Worlds off Takapuna - an ebbing tide against a lightish seabreeze tests even the most competent race management.

For the OK sailors it is a familiar game.

The record for starting attempts in these conditions off Takapuna stands at 15, before the race officer gave it away for the day and no racing was held. However that was in the days when team's racing was rife in the class, and the Black Flag rule didn't exist with starts being manipulated by teams to get their top guys away, and with others dropping back to cover those on top of the leaderboard from other countries.

After one general recall the Black Flag came out, and then it was the usual drill of running through a start sequence, a gaggle of boats get forced over by the second row on the starting grid, and then it's a quick trip around the back of the Race Committee vessel - check to see if your name is on the list - and if not, you've survived to the next round.

One way or another 20 competitors wound up with alphabet scores - not the best start to a regatta.

At the head of the fleet it was a tight race between Andrew Phillips, Dan Slater and Luke O'Connnell, with no other competitors getting a look at the front running.

In a light seabreeze off Takapuna, you can only work with what you get, and in the conditions it was a remarkable piece of sailing by the three frontrunners to hold up around the old-style Olympic course as they did.

Behind there were a brace of champions waiting to pounce, with Freddy Loof (SWE) - winner of an Olympic Gold and two bronze medals in fourth place. Rod Davis, and Olympic Gold an Silver medal winner was lurking around in fifth, before he dropped back on the final beat to finish a very countable eight. Also lurking, waiting for an error was five-time world champion Nick Craig (GBR).

It did come as a surprise to find the second race of the day deferred, leaving the fleet to enjoy a long sail home against the tide.

No wind on the Waitemata Harbour on the way home underlined the the wise decision of the race committee.

Racing continues tomorrow - there is no indication of whether an attempt will be made to catch up on the schedule.

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