With just two weeks to go before the start of the 57th Australian OK Dinghy Championship, the entry list is looking like a who’s who of OK sailing in Australia, with 30 entries so far received. The championship will take place at Black Rock Yacht Club from 28 December 2018 to 3 January 2019.
The entry list includes the four most successful Australian OK Dinghy sailors over the past three decades, all of whom are members of the Black Rock Yacht Club (BRYC): Roger Blasse, Mark Jackson, Andre Blasse, and Mike Williams. These four have won all but two national titles since 1995, and in fact BRYC members have won the national championship some 37 times since it first began in 1963.
Roger Blasse has the honour of having won the most titles in Australian OK Dinghy history. Since 1988 he has taken the national title a total of 10 times already and is now looking for an illusive 11th. He is probably the most successful Australian OK Dinghy sailor of all time, having won the world championship twice, in 1998 and 2013, though he hasn’t won a national title since 2008.
Having sailed all his life and trained for his two world titles on the Port Phillip waters, he knows them well. Port Phillip is famous for its great sailing conditions, reliable winds and large waves.
“Occasionally we get days on end of sea breezes here, but it's quite rare for that to happen. More than likely you get a bit of everything. If a frontal system comes through then each day can be different.”
One of the other favourites to take the title on home waters is Mark Jackson, who won five national titles in a row from 2013 to 2017 before losing to Rob McMillan in 2018. McMillan is unable to defend his title this year.
Jackson said, “We are very fortunate to have such a great stretch of water to race on, right on our doorstep. If the conditions are good, then it is one of the best places in the world to sail. It can also be really challenging, which is also good for us this year as many of us are using the event as final training before the upcoming world championship in New Zealand in February.”
Mike Williams is back after a few years absence at the national championship. He won three back-to-back titles from 2010 to 2012. And with four titles under his belt, Roger’s elder brother, Andre Blasse, is another favourite at the upcoming championship.
There was some indication of form at the recent Go for Gold Regatta at BRYC, where Jackson put together almost a clean sheet and won with a race to spare from Steve Wilson and Andre Blasse. A healthy fleet of 24 OK Dinghies is also competing this week at Sail Melbourne, sailed from the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, just to the north of BRYC.
The national championship begins with a coaching session on Thursday 27 December before the invitation race and opening ceremony the following day. The National title series consists of 10 races from Sunday 29 December to Thursday 3 January, with a lay day on New Year’s Day.
The Notice of Race, Entry Form and current Entry List can be found here: http://www.bryc.com.au/news/11045/