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Barbados is full of surprises. While overall leader Nick Craig, from Great Britain, has surprised everyone with his consistent form in extremely challenging conditions, on the second day of the OK Dinghy World Championships, the Caribbean had another surprise in store, a carpet of weed for the sailors. After two more races, Luke O’Connell remains in second and Jim Hunt remains in third.
A long day on the water and two very tough races for everyone means the championship is still on track, but not only did the sailors have the wind shifts and current to deal with today, but also the rafts of sargassum, or Sargasso weed, that entered the race area during the morning from the open ocean. Sailors spent the day checking foils for weed and sometimes boats would stop dead in the water if the sailor steered into one of the large drifting masses. Of course, the largest raft of week almost encircled the windward mark causing a lot of consternation among the sailors.
But on the plus side, there was 15-20 knots of hot wind, 30 degrees air temperature, sunshine, flying fish, turtles, and the beer was cold after racing.
After commenting to those around him that he was ‘dog tucker’ half way up the first beat, Roger Blasse, from Australia, rounded the top mark of Race 3 in the lead from fellow Australians Peter Robinson and Mark Jackson. O’Connell took the lead on the second beat, but Craig put the throttle down on the final upwind to take his third race win in a row. The left side of the course was heavily favoured as the fleet got out of the main current and were lifted on port tack up to the top mark under Needham’s Point.
Race 4 started under black flag and reset line after a number of false starts with an extreme pin end bias. The defending world champion, Hunt, led at the top mark from O’Connell and Craig, after most of the fleet smacked the left corner again. O’Connell was in the lead by the second upwind mark, but Jørgen Svendsen from Denmark, finally recovering from his jet lag after arriving at the last minute, took the lead on the downwind and led to the left side of the final beat to take the winner’s gun by seconds from Craig and Mark Perrow of New Zealand, after a few more gargantuan wind shifts up the final beat.
Svendsen explained his day, “The last race went perfect. I was a bit unlucky in the first race as I lost my mainsheet, so that was quite expensive. In the last race I really got the perfect shift twice on the left side and I was faster than the others downwind, though they were faster than me upwind, but I was more lucky on the left on the last upwind so I made up some good distance against Nick, just keep on holding him back the best I could.”
Two more races are scheduled on Monday from 12.30. The 2017 OK Dinghy World Championship consists of 10 races and concludes on Wednesday 31 May.
Results after four races
1 GBR 2195 NICK CRAIG 5,0 1 1 1 2
2 NZL 546 LUKE O’CONNELL 11,0 3 2 2 4
3 GBR 11 JIM HUNT 14,0 2 3 4 5
4 NZL 517 PAUL RHODES 25,0 5 9 5 6
5 NZL 551 MARK PERROW 34,0 20 4 7 3
6 AUS 749 ROGER BLASSE 35,0 10 15 3 7
7 NZL 545 STEVE McDOWELL 45,0 4 16 8 17
8 GBR 2191 CHRIS TURNER 47,0 6 8 25 8
9 DEN 3 JORGEN SVENDSEN 48,0 19 14 14 1
10 NZL 566 GREG WILCOX 49,0 9 10 20 10
The OK Dinghy fleet has landed in paradise. Most sailors in Barbados for the 2017 World Championship have been looking forward to this event for three years and so far it is delivering in spades, with fantastic sailing and fabulous hospitality, all based in a stunning location at the Barbados Yacht Club and Barbados Cruising Club. It is simply idyllic.