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Sail-World NZ e-magazine - Feb 20: OK Worlds..DutchSail in town..NZ News

by Richard Gladwell, 19 Feb 2019 03:00 PST 20 February 2019
Dan Slater - 2019 Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship © Robert Deaves

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for February 20, 2019

As can be seen by the news stories below, it has been a very busy couple of weeks, with the OK Dinghy Worlds, SailGP, a visit from the Dutch America's Cup Challenger, and several other issues on the America's Cup front. Plus the Round New Zealand Two-Handed Yacht Race is currently underway, and maybe about to get very interesting with some of the weather systems lurking in the Tasman.

So far this year there have been four World Championships contested in New Zealand - the O'Pen Bic at Manly, the Tornado Worlds at Takapuna, the OK Worlds at Wakatere, and currently the Flying Dutchman Worlds are underway in Nelson. Coming up at the end of the month is a major RS:X regatta at Takapuna.

The OK's attracted a fleet of 111 boats, and as the new world champion, Dan Slater noted afterwards: "Everyone here loves sailing. They are not out here because it is part of their job. And that is the difference."

The OK Dinghy class started in late 1962 in New Zealand with a group starting at Pt Chevailer Sailing Club. The first Nationals were held at Kohimarama Yacht Club, on January 1964. Winner of the event was Clive Roberts who dominated the class in NZ until 1975. Second was his brother Ralph who spoke at the opening of the 2019 World Championships.

In a nice touch, the winner of the Junior Trophy (for sailors under 19yrs old) was John Douglas, who placed 4th overall in that first 1964 Nationals, and competed in the 2019 World Championships 55 years later. He finished 82nd in the 111 boat fleet - beating his younger brother by two places.

Many of the international classes are experiencing a resurgence of interest similar to the OK. The Finn masters attracted 380 boats in 2018.

One of the interesting things that came out of the OK Worlds was that a significant number of the top boats were from kitsets put together by Dan Leech from Christchurch.

Those who have been around longer than most will remember that kitset boats used to be sold through department stores (Farmers) and in the late '60s and early 70's you could buy a kitset boat literally off the shelf.

In part, this was partially how the Father and Son class became a successful project by the Murrays Bay [then] Boating Club. My first job after leaving school [before getting a real job] was putting these kits together, building what is now known as a flat pack - ready to go to the stores/warehouse.

The box that contained the pre-cut plywood sections became the base of the building jig, and you just followed the instructions and went from there. Tools were simple - a battery drill, hammer and screwdriver and a few other basic hand-tools that could be picked up in a hardware shop.

Then sections were cut with a spindle moulder, but of course now with CNC milling machines and related cutting gear, the production shifts to a new much more efficient level with little wastage.

Long considered as a cheap option, it was good to see that the OK World Championship was won by a kitset boat - and one that could be home built.

Equally, it was good for the class to see that third placegetter, Josh Armit (17yrs old) was sailing a 35year old Icebreaker boat. And to give the event a benchmark with the Olympic classes, the second placegetter, Freddie Loof had Olympic Gold and two Bronze medals to his credit and competed in every Olympics from 1992-2012.

There have been several stories come out during and after the OK Worlds on the future of the class, and indeed that of the Olympic classes.

Many of the sailors in a 2020 Olympic program will start winding out in six months when the likely Olympic nominations from their MNA [country] start becoming, and the others find their funding starts drying up. As we note in a couple of stories around this topic, there is no clear pathway from the Youth progression to the Olympic classes - of which seven are under review for the 2024 Olympics.

No choice has been made on the Olympic offshore keelboat. For sailors who are used to sailing both days every weekend and training three times per week, there is nothing out there to say what a winning Olympic offshore keelboat program will entail - let alone the cost, who is financing that, and whether the whole package is attractive to the current sailors rather than the panjandrums of sailing administration.

Also ignored in the Olympic Equipment selection is how much of the current, privately owned Olympic class boats will be made redundant - with a significant financial loss for the owners. Most top Olympic campaigns own two or three boats. That is quite a lot of kit coming onto the market at one time.

DutchSail in town

A year after winning the Hong Kong Auckland leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, Team AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont was in Auckland. This visit he was looking at the America's Cup opportunities and came with the newly appointed team CEO Eelco Blok - who officially doesn't start with the team until March 1.

In a second interview with Sail-World, we got a lot more detail on how Tienpont intends to set up the Challenge which will revolve heavily around industry support, and continuing ground already broken with the last Volvo Ocean Race. The turning point for Tienpont came at the end of the last Volvo OR and the fate of a lot of useful data and systems that had been built up over the VOR. Obviously, these assets would be useful for another race around the planet, but the next step was to take them into an America's Cup campaign and connect with the prominent Dutch industries who have a common area of interest with the America's Cup.

One example is the push in The Netherlands to develop foiling ferries as a means of fast commuter and tourist transport - ones that won't leave a wake and all the environmental damage created from those waves. Wouldn't it make sense for the two programs to work together and share assets and knowledge? The takeouts for DutchSail being assistance with a foil program for the America's Cup program, and the fast ferry designers gain an insight into how to design and make efficient foils, outside the test tank, for the fast-ferry program.

Another is with crew work rates, sleep and fatigue which can be measured understood and optimised in the context of an America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race context. There are all sorts of self-driven pressures on the crew, over several months that can be measured and optimised. That knowledge is transferred into workplaces, particularly those with shift and challenging environments and either change the hours that were worked or make the workplace safer. A good example is the doctors and nurses work within the health system and the hours they work. No-one really knows where the limits are.

Interestingly in Volvo Ocean Race Team AkzoNobel developed a number of ways of measuring fatigue etc., such as analysing a hair sample cut each month, and collecting the data for all the crew - and obviously seeing if there were fatigue differences between the men and women - and overlaying that physical data with incidents and mistakes made aboard the boat, and seeing if there is a relationship between fatigue and operator errors, or time taken to do a task - and then change the systems if necessary and remeasure.

Also in The Netherlands is a project by the national authority, Koninklijk Nederlands Watersport Verbond, to have all their coach boats running on a sustainable basis by 2020. That means running electric motors. But again if in conjunction with major engine manufacturers, the two programs can be dovetailed together, it is a win-win.

The simple approach of the DutchSail America's Cup program, is that Tienpont says he goes and talks to the potential sponsor partner's Research and Development division before he speaks with the Marketing division. He figures the R&D teams have bigger budgets and also with the support of R&D, the America's Cup program can be driven from within the company rather than without.

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Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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