Great Britain, OK National and Open Championships 2001
Report by Nick Craig
The OK Nationals were held at Herne Bay in Kent over the bank holiday weekend with a friendly club and excellent socials making it a good event for all. Racing was very close and competitive with the final result going to the last beat of the last race in some pretty bizarre sailing conditions.
The practice race opened in virtually no wind. In the end it only lasted a leg which was everything from a beat to a run! An elated Roger Cooper took a radical inshore route which dodged the tide and picked up new wind to give him a huge win from all the gathered stars and making his birthday a good one!
The wind eventually settled down for race 1 with a force 2-3 coming off the land giving some big shifts. Worlds Silver medallist Bart Bomans from Belgium took advantage of a big shift left up the penultimate beat for a comfy win. Early leader Dave Carroll held 2nd from a late charge by reigning Champion Richard Stenhouse and Nick Craig.
Conditions were again very tricky for day 2 with light unstable winds. The opening race provided the committee boat with much entertainment - a strong current against the fleet and a starboard biased line meant the place to start was right by the committee boat's engine - 10+ boats thought that spot should be theirs! After several general recalls, Bomans got away cleanly and was 1st to head inshore. However, a massive shift to the left meant it was those who had been forced out to sea that came out in front with junior Pete Turner taking an early lead. Pete's older brother Will was clearly jealous as he sailed straight past him up the 2nd beat! Will won from Pete with Bob Bourne having his best ever Nationals race in 3rd. Carroll did well to recover to 4th whilst pre-event favourites Stenhouse, Craig & Bomans were back in 10th, 12th and 16th opening up the series very early on.
The wind flicked to offshore again for race 3 and remained pretty unstable. Alan Atkin, OK builder Andrew Rushworth and Bomans emerged from the right side of the beat in new wind to build a good lead with Paul Jewby and Carroll not far behind. Bomans was quick in the light airs to win again from Carroll, Rushworth, Craig and former Olympian Stenhouse. Jewby held on well to 7th for his best ever Nationals result.
After day 2, Carroll was looking good with a 9 point lead.
Sunday at last gave the excellent sailing conditions for which Herne Bay is known with winds of up to force 4 and surfing waves, though a big black cloud still ensured the day was not quite normal!
Race 4 got underway in a force 3-4 with good waves. Bomans again picked the shifts well up the opening beat for an early lead but Craig closed in downwind to just get ahead at the last leeward mark. The race then turned bizarre! A massive black cloud stormed over the fleet in the opposite direction to the wind which at first killed it to nothing and then turned the last beat into a run. This gave Bomans the chance to sit on Craig's wind and put him under pressure until Bomans bootlace caught in his mainsheet ratchet causing him to capsize in a monster gust - it was that sort of day!! The wind then flicked to a beat again just before the finish with Stenhouse nearly catching Craig. Carroll got through to 3rd with Bomans finishing a wet 4th from Terry Curtis. For most of the fleet these bizarre wind flicks meant they did 3 beats in a row so were very glad for a lunchbreak while the wind settled!
The wind finally settled for race 5 with a force 3, good waves and no 180 degree shifts! Big Greg Casey stormed up the 1st beat for an early lead. Going inshore with tide against finally paid off with 6 times Champion Hedley Fletcher and Rushworth coming out well from hard right. Fletcher and Rushworth battled hard for the lead with big Fletch finally outlarding Rushworth just before the finish to win. Craig just beat Bomans to 3rd whilst Stenhouse caught Casey on the finish line for 5th.
Going into the final day, racing was going to be interesting with Bomans on 10 points, Carroll & Craig on 12, Stenhouse on 15 and Fletcher an outside bet on 18.
The final day looked like it was going to be breezy with a force 5 blowing through in the morning. However, by the time the race started it had died to force 3. A very port biased line made the start tricky and after the usual general recalls and black flag, Bomans got away well to lead from Carroll. With Stenhouse buried in 10th and Craig 15th, Bomans was looking rosy for the Open Championships and Carroll for the National title. But Sten and Craig both turned on the downwind speed to move to 3rd and 5th by the end of the 1st lap. Very unstable dying winds up the next beat saw Carroll, Sten, Craig, Rushworth, Fletcher and Will Turner all close together for a tight tactical battle for position. Craig & Sten got away a little and briefly put Bomans under pressure. Bomans held on to win with Sten getting past Craig just before the finish for 2nd. Turner took 4th, another great result for this young sailor whilst Carroll stayed in contention in 5th.
The wind then died to near nothing. The race officer waited a couple of hours but the wind did not come back to play which meant Bomans was Open Champion with an impressive 3 race wins and Craig won the National title. Sten & Carroll had identical results with Sten sneaking 3rd on last race sailed tiebreaker.
- & British Open Champion Bart Bomans Belgium 11 points
- & National Champion Nick Craig Frensham Pond 15
- Richard Stenhouse Rutland 17
- Dave Carroll Deben 17
- Hedley Fletcher Burton 27
- Andrew Rushworth Christchurch 30
- Will Turner Overy Staithe 37
- Terry Curtis Upper Thames 37
- Dave Bourne Blue Circle 48
- & Veteran Champion Greg Casey Bexhill 51
26th & Best Newcomer Gareth Tweedle Emsworth
27th & Best Lady Justine Davenport Burwain