After three days of fantastic Port Phillip weather, the 2014 OK Dinghy World Championship was opened on a hot and sunny Sunday evening at Black Rock Yacht Club, Melbourne, Australia. Following the official opening of the regatta, there followed three inductions into the OK Dinghy Hall of Fame, all from the club, and a fabulous paella served on the club verandah overlooking the bay.
The third OK Dinghy World Championship at Black Rock YC in 32 years has attracted 74 entries from six nations. The sailors have enjoyed a mix of conditions over the past three days with two very informal pre-regattas to test the sailors and the race team. On Friday, Boxing Day, about 20 boats went out in 15-18 knots and sunny skies, to sail three short races. Greg Wilcox (NZL) won two races to take the day from Mark Perrow (NZL) and Malte Pedersen (DEN).
The second day of the Pre-Worlds regatta delivered even better than the first with spectacular Port Phillip conditions and more boats on the water. Everyone came ashore with smiles from ear to ear after some great racing in great conditions. Luke O'Connell (NZL) took the day's top prize from Ben Morrison (NZL) and Mark Roberts (AUS). Measurement was also started onshore with the majority of boats passed with few problems by the class's Chief Measurer, Dick Batt (GBR).
The opening ceremony and welcome party on Sunday evening at the yacht club precedes what many consider will be a classic world championship for the class, held at one of the bastions of OK Dinghy sailing around the world. The awards board at the club is filled with OK Dinghy national and world champions. The current world champion Roger Blasse (AUS) comes from the club and is sure to set the pace on Port Philip, though will have a lot of strong competition to defend his title.
The welcome function also included the induction into the OK Dinghy Hall of Fame of class stalwarts Bill Bell (AUS), Roger Blasse (AUS) and Andre Blasse (AUS). It was a celebratory, and for some emotional moment, to acknowledge the enormous contribution that these three sailors have made to the ongoing success of the class in Australia and worldwide. A full report will follow.
The Commodore of Black Rock YC, Andre Blasse (AUS), and also a competitor this week, said, “As Commodore of Black Rock Yacht Club, I am very happy to have the 2014 OK Dinghy Worlds at our Club. It is great to see an entry list of 74 sailors from six nations, with four past world Champions including the current one.”
“Black Rock Yacht Club is well-known in Australia for its OK Dinghy sailors; our members have won the National Championships some 34 times since 1963.”
“This will be the third running of an OK Dinghy worlds at the club. The first was in 1982 won by legendary New Zealand sailor Rick Dodson (NZL). Then in 1990 it was won by another New Zealand OK legend Leith Armit (NZL). OK Dinghy sailors must like the place, there are six competing this year who sailed in 1982, plus Bill Bell who will be on the Jury.”
“I wish everyone all the best on and off the water, and I hope you all have a great time in Black Rock, Melbourne Australia.”
The practice race will be held on Monday 29 December followed by the first races on Tuesday 30 December. Racing continues until Sunday 4 December with a lay day scheduled for New Years Day.