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OK Dinghy European Championship - Day 1

by Robert Deaves 22 Jul 2014 22:54 BST 22-26 July 2014

Andre Budzien (GER), the 2012 World Champion leads Greg Wilcox (NZL) the 2002 World Champion and Bo Petersen (DEN) the defending European champion after the first two races at the 2014 OK Dinghy European Championship in Steinhude, Germany.

It was a very hot and tricky day with the highly changeable winds producing a very mixed bag of results for most of the competitors as the hot German wind laid on challenging conditions for the competitors. But in contrast to recent days there was wind and the fleet set out on time. However, just as the warning signal was about to to be made, the wind switched off and the fleets were made to wait in swelteringly hot conditions for just over an hour. Then, the wind made a welcome return from the same direction and stabilised at 8-10 knots, though this was just to deceive the sailors as it popped in and out all day long. However, there was enough pressure to run two pretty good races.

Yellow fleet was away first. Frederik Svendsen (DEN) came off pin and favoured the left. Greg Wilcox (NZL), Jim Hunt (GBR), and Bo Petersen (DEN) went right. Svendsen emerged in the lead at the top with Oliver Gronholz (GER) joining the leading group on the second round. However Petersen took lead at top of the second beat after Svendsen forgot the spacer mark. Petersen led to the finish to win from Gronholz and Svendsen, while Hunt was scored OCS.

In the Blue group, Jorgen Svendsen (DEN), father of Frederik, battled at the front with Andre Budzien (DEN) who had led round the top mark. On the first upwind there was a huge shift to the left and the leaders reached into the mark while the right was stranded. Svendsen eventually won from Budzien and Martin von Zimmermann (GER).

Race 2 started almost immediately to make the best of the wind. Wilcox dominated Yellow fleet, starting in the middle of the line before a long tack to the left. He tacked on the first big shift to be lifted to the top mark. He led all the way round apart from Alex Scoles (GBR) briefly taking the lead on the second beat. Simon Davies (GBR) and Simon Cox (GBR) were also in the mix and rounded out the top four while Petersen moved up to fifth by the end.

Blue fleet started after a slight delay to allow the fleet to get back to the start line. This caused an interesting situation later in the race as the two fleet crossed twice. Robert Deaves (GBR) came of the line near the pin and tacked in the first big shift and had clear air all the way to the top mark. He extended on the reach but then the wind died and filled in from behind. Budzien moved through the fleet and passed Deaves at the end of the second reach. At that point the Yellow fleet was rounding the gate mark to starboard while the Blue fleet was rounding its leeward mark (the same mark) to port. It led to some interesting situations, but everyone was very polite about it! The Race Officer is looking at introducing a second leeward mark on Wednesday to avoid this situation again.

Von Zimmerman rounded third and went right to come back well ahead. He led round the remainder of the race, while Tomasz Gaj (POL) led a small group to the right on the final beat and came

through on a big pressure shift to cross the finish second, which turned into first as von Zimmermann was over early on the start line. Budzien ended up second with Pawel Pawlaczyk (POL) in third.

Wilcox said of the day, "It was a shifty nightmare, with the pressure up and down and all over the place. It was pretty warm out there as well. It's going to be a week where keeping the losses to a minimum is going to be crucial. I think pretty much everyone is going to have a good race sometime this week." It would seem that keeping a sense of humour is also going to be important.

After racing the class held a Special General Meeting to address urgent matters. Among other matters, Juliane Hofmann (GER) was elected as the new secretary of OKDIA, The Netherlands was welcomed back as a full member of OKDIA, personal sail numbers were adopted by the class (subject to National Authority ratification), and the members present presented feedback on OKDIA's development strategy which is being prepared. Hofmann replaces Mary Reddyhoff (GBR) who has been class secretary for seven years. The meeting minuted the class's grateful thanks for all her hard work over many years.

Each day after sailing the competitors are greeting by cold beer and hot snacks on the grass by the dinghy park, while each evening dinner is offered in the tent by the lake, all included within the entry fee. There is sunshine, sailing, beer and food, all shared between great friends from across the world. What more do sailors need?

Racing continues Wednesday from 12.00, with a forecast of slightly less wind than today.

Ten races are scheduled for the European Championship from Tuesday 22 July to Saturday 26 July. On the first day, the fleets will be split into two starts based on the latest OK Dinghy World Ranking list, and adjusted each day thereafter based on the overall positions at the end of each day. On the fourth and fifth days, the fleet will be split into gold and silver fleets. The warning signal for racing is scheduled for 12.00 each day.

Results after two races:

1. GER 789, Andre Budzien 5pts
2. NZL 544, Greg Wilcox 6pts
3. DEN 1431, Bo Petersen 6pts
4. GBR 2160, Alex Scoles 9pts
5. GER 777, Andreas Pich 10pts
6. SWE 2804, Per Jaennsson 10pts
7. GER 772, Oliver Gronholz 14pts
8. GER 607, Christian Heinze 16pts
9. POL 1, Tomasz Gaj 17pts
10. GER 771, Ralf Mackmann 18pts

Event website at: www.okem2014.de

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