OK End of Season Championship at Burton Sailing Club…
It was the Championship that nearly wasn’t. It was only a few weeks ago when the OKs found out that the expected host club could not now host this popular event and no other obvious option was on the table. Luckily through the efforts of class stalwart Rodney Thorne, Burton Sailing Club came to the rescue and the final event of the North Sails Super Series was back on!
And so it was the OK fleet assembled on Sat 3rd Nov at a blustery Foremark Reservoir to round their season out with some racing and revelry – after partaking in some of Burton SC’s most excellent bacon rolls and coffee. For some this would be the last chance to get some practice in before their boats were loaded into a container this week for shipping to New Zealand for the World Championship in February.
From the clubhouse the conditions appeared to have moderated but once out on the water it was apparent that there were some significant gusts coming through and the race officer set up a fairly short, 2 lap trapezoid course to see how the fleet performed. He had let slip at the briefing that he did not have a black flag with him it was to no great surprise that the fleet responded with a mass rush across the line early and the inevitable general recall. When the race did get under way it was boat to boat all the way round throughout the fleet and won by current Junior European Champion Will Heritage being followed virtually bow to stern across the line by Will Croxford, Alex Scoles and Richard ‘Burt’ Burton. A special shout out must go to Ian Hopwood who’s famed death-defying downwind style got the better of him when a huge gust hit on the final run. We’re told his shout of ‘surprise’ could be heard in the clubhouse.
The race officer, apparently surprised at how quick the fleet moved in the breeze, wisely doubled the number of laps for subsequent races – the first race having been very short, sharp and intense. With the increased course size, the fleet spread more and Race 2 saw Simon Cowood lead from start to finishing, calmly sailing well to hold off the advances of the charging pack of Burt, Will, Fergus Barnham and Ed Bradburn.
For the final race of the day Ed Bradburn took an early lead up the first the beat and didn’t (couldn’t?) look back through his dark sunglasses, sailing away from everyone winning by a good margin. A small pack broke away from the remainder of the fleet and the battle for second was again between Burt, Will and Fergus, finishing in that order with Ian Hopwood completing the top 5. Further down the fleet however there was real drama. Sam Bailey, one of the new pack of youths entering the class, couldn’t quite make the windward mark and bravely tried to bear off and go around again. As is always the case with the wind and racing, a gust hit him as he bore away, he rolled into windward right in front of an oncoming port tacker who sailed straight through his sail from leech to luff as his mast hit the water. When we say ‘his’ sail, we actually mean it was the OK class Chairman’s sail who was watching 20 yards away on the shore.
After a night enjoying both the fabulous meal that Burton SC put on for the sailors and their well-stocked bar, the fleet were met by lighter conditions on the Sunday but the course was still gusty and patchy. To make life interesting for the sailors the course this time was around the club marks, and with too many marks to remember the kind rescue boat led the fleet around the first mark, but even then, on the first lap the lead boats sometimes had different ideas to where the next mark was! Dave Bourne (who had taken over from Burt in sailing GBR 17) had just about recovered from his hangover and lead the first race only to be caught by Ed Bradburn who went on to win the race with Dave finishing 2nd and Fergus 3rd. Cadet World Champion Jamie Harris had really found his pace, sailed incredibly well and nearly overtook Fergus on the final lap to finish 4th and Hugo Burrows, another up and coming youngster finished 5th.
For the final race, Ed again started well to lead from start to finish but was chased hard by Jamie Harris and Will Heritage, finishing in that order. Duncan Ellis sailed his best race of the weekend to finish 4th and a very hungover Dave in 5th. When the final results were compiled it was the ever-consistent Ed Bradburn that won the End of Season Championship with Will Heritage second and Fergus Barnham third. It is also worth noting that apart from Will there were two other youth sailors in the top ten, a sign of the changing face of the class and a warning to the old guard that a new group of young guns were out to take their places.
The prize giving, generously supported by Harken, included the awards to the overall winners of the season long series’ with Keith Byers winning the overall Travellers Trophy for the year and Ian Hopwood winning the HD Sails Inland series. Keith was also lucky enough to win the raffle of a North Sails Voucher to use against a new sail.
The OK Class would like to pay special thanks to everybody at Burton Sailing Club who went over and above the call of duty to make this event happen. Not only did they provide a great location, fabulous food and a well-stocked bar but they put on some of the most intense and thrilling racing the class has seen this year.
The Full Final Results for Burton are now available by clicking here.
Yachts and Yachting Link here
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