Monday, 27 July 2009

OK World Championships: Practice Race Won by Kiwi Karl Purdie

Lining up for the start. Supplied image.

by Mary Reddyhoff

With measurement completed with smooth effectiveness, there was an air of optimism in the dinghy park. Just centimetres away from the channel accessing the race area, sailors were able to complete their final preparations in sunshine with a moderate breeze blowing. Andre Blasse (AUS) said "I will be happy to finish 7th behind the six previous World Champions this year. Achieving a top ten place will be very difficult with so many of the top OK sailors present at this event".

Keen to get the Championship underway, many were premature starters at the start of the Practice race and a general recall resulted. The AP was raised seconds before the second start as a major wind shift occurred under thunderous clouds. Once passed, the wind settled back to the SW and the race began in 20 knots of breeze, with a short steep wave pattern well established in the breezy conditions. Nick Craig (GBR) led the fleet to the pin end, tacking onto port as the gun fired. Another wind shift saw the port side of the course paying, with the leaders fetching into the windward mark, well ahead of the committee boat end starters.

At the gybe mark Karl Purdie (NZL), the current World Champion, had established a several boat length lead on Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN), with Craig, Christian Olesen (DEN) and Oliver Gronholz (GER) in hot pursuit. The second and third beats were good, favouring the big breeze sailors. Craig capsized on the gybe at the leeward mark "I did not let off the kicker" he said "as I have only done one event this year!" The majority of the fleet peeled off home in the choppy conditions, leaving thirty three to finish, the last Mathieu Chenuil (FRA). He was not the least discouraged "I am determined to finish every race and learn as much as I can at my first Worlds".

It is common for the leader not to finish the Practice race on the suspicion it will mar his performance later in the week; however Purdie sailed to take the gun with the comment "I am out for what I can get this week!". Gronholz was 2nd, although slow upwind, he was pleased with his tactics on the shifts, saying "I was happy with my speed on the reach and the run".

Lindhardtsen surprised the leaders with his speed upwind, shrugging his shoulders he said "my back is still a bit sore". Greg Wilcox (NZL) President of the OK Dinghy International Association, passed Craig, finishing 5th.

Rounding the gybe mark. Supplied image.

1st NZL 531 Karl Purdie
2nd GER 717 Oliver Gronholz
3rd DEN 1364 Jorgen Lindhardtsen
4th DEN 1340 Christian Olesen
5th NZL 522 Greg Wilcox
6th GBR 2134 Nick Craig
7th SWE 100 Thomas Hansson-Mild
8th SWE 2782 Jan-Erik Engholm
9th SWE 66 Jan-Erik Nystedt
10th DEN 1377 Jorgen Holm Nielsen

OK Worlds

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