Strong winds leave OK Dinghy world fleet on shore for second day

Strong winds battering Port Phillip caused the first day of the OK Dinghy World Championship to be cancelled, leaving sailors on shore all day. After the practice race on Monday was also cancelled because of strong winds, the fleet is itching to get on the water and start some racing.

The day began pretty much as the previous day had ended, with strong winds sweeping the bay and sending crashing waves into Half Moon Bay. Never mind the race area, launching was virtually impossible as waves crashed up the slipways and over the boats on the quay. So it was no surprise that an early postponement was hoisted to delay the scheduled 13.00 start time to 15.00. The PRO, Mark Taylor (AUS), was not very optimistic about any racing taking place but left a window of opportunity if the wind moderated. Some forecasts showed a drop later in the day, some didn't. Though it did drop briefly around 11.00 to 20-23 knots, by 12.00 it was back up to 30 knots with a substantial sea running.

The strong westerlies had also raised the water height in Half Moon Bay by the Black Rock Yacht Club, with the sea lapping over the top of the ramps onto the road. The sea state had to moderate substantially before it was ever going to be safe to even launch the boats.

At 14.00 the decision was taken to cancel for the day with the winds still peaking out at above 30 knots and a fierce sea running. Mark Taylor explained the decision. “We were faced with some extremely challenging conditions on the bay. Large 20-25 knot north-westerlies were forecast, staying at that strength all day but gradually moving round to the west. Our concern from that forecast was that there was never going to be any let up in the sea state, which was going to stay high all day. And whilst the wind had moderated by 14.00, the sea state hadn't and given it's the first day of the regatta, the conservative thing to do was to not race today.”

“I had a discussion with the OKDIA rep and he's comfortable with that decision and most of the competitors I have spoken to since reckon that's a pretty good decision, The waves are over two metres and there is still a lot of white out there. Westerly is probably our most difficult direction. It's just very short and sharp out there.”

The sailors were then able to enjoy the first sponsored event by True South, which was carried over from Monday, with free beer provided through the afternoon, and combined with the Tuesday sponsored beer from Sailing Raceboats made for a convivial afternoon.

The forecast for Wednesday is much better at 15-20 knots. Class rule prohibit races being caught up unless the series is under threat, so two races are scheduled from 13.00 again.

– Robert Deaves

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