The Barbados wind beats to the same rhythm of the boom-box buses that rumble past the Barbados Yacht Club each day. It starts, it stops, it turns around, all the time going in no particular direction. You pick it up and take it one way only to find it is taking you in the wrong direction. It pulsates like the booming bass beat. It is hot and humid.
For the majority of sailors at the 2017 OK Dinghy World Championships in Barbados, it has been hard to make sense of the wind, but one person has shown an uncanny ability to be in the right place every time, and sail his boat faster than anyone else.
Discarding a third place in the 79-boat fleet Nick Craig, from Britain, dominated the series for perhaps his most convincing win ever. This is his fifth OK Dinghy world crown and perhaps the sweetest yet as he becomes the first person in the 60 year history of the class to win five world titles.
The defending champion, Jim Hunt, sailed an impressive series as well, never below fifth, and put together a scoreline that in most years would have easily won him the title. Third place Luke O’Connell, from New Zealand, led a strong Kiwi challenge with five boats inside the top ten.
Only one race was possible on the final day in perhaps the most capricious wind of the week. Jørgen Svendsen, of Denmark, led the race all the way until the final beat when Hunt and Craig sneaked past as the wind started to go even more patchy and shifty. Hunt took his second victory of the week, while O’Connell took third as Svendsen was an early starter.
The race team tried to start the final race, but the conditions and the time were against them. Eventually they admitted defeat and at 14.50, the end of the regatta was signalled and the start of the race to the beach to get the first boat into the containers.
O’Connell said, “It’s been a tough week, I am pleased to come away with third. The middle of the week was pretty bad for me. I don’t know what happened there really. But it was great sailing here. Nick and Jim sailed super well and nick definitely deserved to win.”
Paying tribute to Craig, Hunt said “It’s fantastic isn’t it. He just outsailed every one all week. He’s just been a bit more on it all week, starting better, being in the right place at the right time. He hasn’t really missed anything. He was quick downwind, there were not really any holes in his game, which is a bit of a shame, as if he hadn’t been here I would have looked quite good.”
“But it was great fun, I’ve had a great time.”
New World Champion, Craig, said, “Fantastic day, absolutely delighted. It was always a little tense as I needed a 12th which is just the kind of thing where you could be too conservative and end up having a 20th, so I got an average start which was just good enough, got a lane, and went up to about fifth at the windward mark and then just sailed really conservatively and just sailed near Jim as well partly because he always goes the right way and because if he was deep or going well then I would be matching him. So it worked out really nicely.”
“I think it was a tricky week because it was very shifty and we had weed challenges, but overall it’s just a fantastic place so sail. It’s so warm, the water is warm, beer is cold; it’s fantastic. I really enjoyed myself.”
Next year the class heads to Warnemunde in Germany, for the 2018 World Championship, one of the classes favourite venues.
Even as the OK Dinghies were packed away in their containers to begin their long journeys home, their spaces on the beach were slowly being filled with Finns for the start of the Finn World Masters on Friday.
Final results after nine races
1 GBR 2195 NICK CRAIG 10,0 1 1 1 2 (3) 1 1 1 2
2 GBR 11 JIM HUNT 22,0 2 3 4 (5) 1 4 5 2 1
3 NZL 546 LUKE O'CONNELL 42,0 3 2 2 4 (bfd) 17 3 8 3
4 NZL 545 STEVE McDOWELL 53,0 4 16 8 (17) 4 6 4 4 7
5 NZL 517 PAUL RHODES 55,0 5 9 5 6 6 3 14 7 (20)
6 AUS 749 ROGER BLASSE 56,0 10 15 3 7 5 9 (22) 3 4
7 NZL 551 MARK PERROW 64,0 20 4 7 3 2 (dsq) 2 14 12
8 GBR 2191 CHRIS TURNER 65,0 6 8 (25) 8 8 8 9 9 9
9 NZL 566 GREG WILCOX 78,0 9 10 (20) 10 11 10 6 16 6
10 DEN 3 JORGEN SVENDSEN 96,0 19 14 14 1 23 5 8 12 (bfd)
– Robert Deaves