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Thomas Hansson-Mild lays down marker one year out from 2020 OK Dinghy Worlds

by Robert Deaves 8 Aug 15:32 BST 2-4 August 2019
Thomas Hansson-Mild is 2019 Swedish Champion - Swedish OK/Finn National Championship © Robert Deaves

That nearly 60 OK Dinghies from seven countries travelled long distances to sail the 2019 Swedish National Championship says as much about the current health of the class as it does about the beautiful venue that is Marstrand, host for the 2020 World Championship.

World No. 1, Thomas Hansson-Mild, from Sweden dominated the event to take his 14th National title, taking three race wins from the eight races, never out of the top three, and was the clear victor before the final race.

The OK Dinghy has a long history in Marstrand with many boats and sails made there in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time Sweden had the biggest fleet in the world with sailors having to qualify for the national championship because of the demand for places.

Those glory days are a long while ago, but Sweden is seeing growing numbers again and this weekend was a good indication of growth with lots of new faces and a lot of good sailors taking part.This was one of the highest numbers at a Swedish Nationals since the 1970s, further proof of the growth of the class in Sweden over the last decade.

The three days from 2-4 August, in Marstrand were combined with some lovely Swedish summer weather. However, perhaps too nice because the wind was not really there to play with the 58 boats on the start line.

With a year to go to the 2020 World Championship in Marstrand, the event attacted a good number of Germans, Danish and Norwegians together with a few boats from Poland, New Zealand and Australia, to make the trip to the Swedish sailing metropolis to test out the conditions.

The racing

The first day produced 8-10 knots from the north with some shifts and not too much current, and the first race was won quite confidently by the Swedish National Team Laser sailor, Emil Bengtson, after leading from the first mark all the way round. That was Emil's first time in an OK Dinghy, after borrowing a boat for the nationals. Niklas Edler, who has won the Laser Masters Nationals 10 times and is new in the class, started off with a fourth place. That was also his first race ever in an OK Dinghy.

Thomas Hansson-Mild quickly recovered from a poor start in the second race to take the lead on the run which he kept all the way followed by Edler in second and Jonas Qvist (Worlds runner up in 2005) in third. Former world champion, Mats Caap, won the third and final race of the first day followed by Hansson-Mild and Bengtson.

Three races were planned on the Saturday and somehow they were all sailed despite the very light wind that was coming in from north-west and never increased past five knots. The current from the north-east also came in to play in the light wind and it was a really tricky day with lots of hot sunshine. Hansson-Mild was on fire and controlled the fleet in the first race of the day and won from Edler and Bengtsson. Martin von Zimmerman from Germany took the second race after establishing a good lead on the first beat. Stefan Jaensson was second and Hansson-Mild third. The final race of the day was also won by Hansson-Mild from Edler and Marek Bernat, from Poland. On Saturday evening there was the regatta dinner at the Salteriet where a massive grill buffet was served for all the sailors.

There was even lighter wind on the final day, very unusual for this time of year, and coming in from the west. Three races were planned for the final day as well. However the fleet had to wait for four hours before getting away in a very weak and puffy wind. First round the top mark was Andreas Pich, from Germany, who managed to hold on to his lead all the way to secure the win. Benjamin Hammarö, also new to the class, worked his way up to second with Hansson-Mild in third. With only 20 minutes to go the 15:00 deadline a final race was sent off in very light winds. Mats Caap succeeded in taking his second win of the regatta, from Edler and Hammerö.

So Thomas Hansson-Mild was the convincing winner from Niklas Edler and Emil Bengtsson. Mats Caap was the Master's champion and Per Westlund the Grand Master's champion.

2020

The 2020 World Championship is expected to attract over 120 entries, with the organising club, the Marstrands Segelsällskap (MSS), well into planning and preparation with the social programme, logistics and securing the amenities for the venue high on its list of priorities.

Marstrand is a ridiculously beautiful place, both for visiting and for sailing. Visitors get a hint of this beauty on the drive in with fjords, bridges, inlets, islands and vistas galore. But the town itself and the waterways that have made it famous take that beauty to another level. Though an overused cliché, stunning is an apt description, both the shoreside, but also the sailing waters, which are famous worldwide.

Keep an eye on the event website for updates and more information. Entry will open later this year. 2020.okworlds.org

Overall Results: (top 10 from 58 entries)

1 SWE 1 Thomas Hansson-Mild 13pts
2 SWE 71 Niklas Edler 24pts
3 SWE 555 Emil Bengtson 35pts
4 SWE 69 Mats Caap 40pts
5 SWE 72 Benjamin Hammerö 51pts
6 SWE 666 Jonas Qvist 59pts
7 GER 803 Martin v. Zimmermann 67pts
8 GER 7 Andreas Pich 82pts
9 SWE 2067 Erik Lindén 82pts
10 POL 7 Marek Bernat 91pts

Find full results here

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