41th Australian and Interdominion OK Dinghy Championships
Melbourne / Australia
Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron 28th December 2002 � 2nd January 2003
Victorian Mark Jackson has won his first International OK Dinghy Australian Championships, narrowly defeating fellow Black Rock club member Matt Johnson. With only one race completed in the first three days of the regatta, six races were scheduled for the final two days to complete the seven race program, hosted by The Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron. Johnson picked up an eighth, two seconds and a third place to lead by one point from former National Champion Bruce Ashton, with Jackson a further point behind in third place, going into the final day.
Ashton had reveled in the light winds and flat water on the second last day to score two firsts and a fifth. Jackson was able to sail consistently to maintain contact with the leaders by scoring a second, fourth and third.
The early championship leaders had sailed themselves out of contention with poor sailing and starting errors on the second last day of racing. Past National Champion Andre Blasse struggled in the lighter shifting wind after winning the first heat on day one, which was sailed in 25 knots plus. Similarly, former World and National Champion Mark Fisher failed to show any form after his second place in the strong breeze in the first heat.
Peter Horne from Drummoyne in NSW was sailing very well on the race course in a brand new Jason King Marine boat. Horne scored a close third in the windy first heat, and went on to cross the line first in the light and shifty second heat, only to be disqualified for a premature start. Horne finished third in the third heat, but was tragically disqualified from fourth place in the next heat, once again for a premature start.
On the final day of racing Jackson almost blew the regatta at the start of the fifth race with an individual recall and restart putting him a considerable distance behind the fleet. With serious determination to get back into the race Jackson moved into first place by the top mark on the second beat. He then covered the fleet to win from Blasse, who moved up the last beat to second position, Horne third and Johnson fourth. Ashton crashed to cross the line a disappointing sixteenth. Overall it was Jackson leading by one point from Johnson and Ashton now eight points behind.
The sixth heat saw Jackson and Johnson clear out from the fleet early, with Jackson passing Johnson up the second beat and then covering to the finish. With wins in heats five and six Jackson now led the regatta by two points from Johnson.
The final heat was held in a building sea breeze of 15 to 18 knots. Blasse and Jackson took a commanding lead on the rest of the fleet, with Jackson maintaining a loose cover on Johnson to secure the regatta, with Blasse taking the final heat, Jackson second and Johnson third.
Overall results were Mark Jackson first, Matt Johnson a well deserved second and three time past winner Andre Blasse third. Bruce Ashton was fourth and also took the Masters title, Peter Jackson was fifth and also took the Veterans title. Mick McQueen from NSW was sixth. First Junior was James McAllister from NSW and Handicap winner was Mark Fisher.
Jackson had borrowed the winning boat, mast and sails from former World Champion Roger Blasse who was in Perth sailing International 14's. The boat is a 14 year old home built "Delfs" copy. Johnson used a totally reconstructed boat built more than 25 years ago. Blasse used a Swedish "Delfs" hull. Jackson and Johnson used Needlespar masts (UK) and Blasse, Ashton and Peter Jackson used Goldspar masts. All used Gale and Rimington sails from Melbourne. This will be the last Australian Championships where it is expected Needlespar and Goldspar masts will be universally successful. The class has voted internationally to introduce Carbon Fibre masts effective from 1 April 2003. The next Australian Championships will again be held in conjunction with the Interdominion Championships at Whitsunday Sailing Club, Airlie Beach, North Queensland over Easter 2004.