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Henning Harders 55th Australian OK Nationals at Drummoyne SC - Preview

by Di Pearson, OK Dinghy media on 6 Jan 9-13 January 2017
The 55th Australian OK Dinghy Nationals will be held at Drummoyne SC © OK Dinghy Association

Day 1 of racing at the Henning Harders 55th OK Dinghy Nationals gets underway at Drummoyne Sailing Club (DSC) on Monday, January 9 - and the question is - can anyone beat defending champion, Mark Jackson in the five-day event?

Jackson, a Victorian representing Black Rock Yacht Club (BRYC), has won the last five National titles, with top ten finishes at two recent world championships. It makes him the man with a target on his back at the Nationals, for which 38 entries have been received to-date encompassing NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia.

"The flat water of upper Sydney Harbour may favour the locals, but Mark is going to be hard to beat," admits Grant Wakefield, a fellow competitor and Drummoyne SC Commodore.

"A New South Wales competitor has not won the Australian Championship since 1992 Finn Olympian and triple Laser world champion, Glenn Bourke, in 1991 when the regatta was last held at Drummoyne."

It is tricky sailing on the waters of Drummoyne and its surrounds. It is a narrow waterway compared to the other end of Sydney Harbour, with islands and land mass making it necessary to tack and gybe frequently, not to mention the need for good tactical skills.

Joining Jackson, who doubles as the class president, in a strong force from BRYC is 2009 Australian champion, Andre Blasse and 1992 winner, Mark Fisher. Adelaide SC member, Brent Williams, will lead the charge for South Australia.

Among the NSW entries, serious challenges are expected from Mark Skelton and Tim Davies from Wangi Wangi Sailing Club, home of two-time Olympic medallists, Nathan Outteridge and Iain 'Goobs' Jensen.

Locally, Peter Horne and Peter Robinson are hoping to bring home the bacon for Drummoyne SC.

"All of the above have top 20 finishes recently behind them in OK world championships," Wakefield confirms.

"We have sailors competing who range from one junior, 17 year-old James Pagett, to at least two who are over 70. Mike Walker (DSC) is probably the longest serving OK Dinghy sailor in Australia and Jim Ley (from Woollahra SC), also sails a Finn and was sailing OK's back in the '60's and owned the sail number KA5," Wakefield ends.

Other entries of interest include Andrew Stephenson (DSC) who with his skipper Alison Chapman was crowned the 2017 Cherub National champion yesterday. Former 18ft skiff champion, Phil Barnett (Lane Cove 12ft SC), is also entered, while regular, Elizabeth Williams from Sandgate SC in Queensland, is the only female signed up.

Racing at the Henning Harders OK Dinghy Nationals is expected to start from 1pm daily. Officials are aiming for two races per day, with a maximum of 10 races to be sailed.

The Australian OK Dinghy Association Perpetual Trophy and the title of Australian champion will be awarded to the highest placed Australian competitor.

Some of the world's most famous sailors have competed in the single-handed OK Dinghy class, including Peter Blake, Bjorn and Stig Westergard, Mike McIntyre, yacht designer Rolf Vrolijk, Rod Davis, Chris Dickson, Tony Mutter, Jochen Schümann, Frederik Loof and more.

Full results for the Henning Harders OK Dinghy Nationals will be available at www.sailingresults.com.au/ScoreItV2/Public/index.php

For all information visit www.drummoynesailingclub.com.au

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