New Zealand has been having a pretty rugged time with the weather this winter with the blue skies and fair winds of summer being only a distant memory. Having completed the last of the infrequent winter racing series a couple of weekends ago I can't wait for Summer and the new season to begin.
I found these two end of summer 2022 photos of sailing at Parua Bay on the WCC site. This is probably the last time I sailed my Zephyr before she was sold and I purchased an OK Dinghy.
The man in the stripy shirt is Mike. He is standing in front of his blue OK Dinghy, one of four (including my own new boat) OK dinghies that are now racing in Northland.
I am packing up 'Slipstream' my yellow Zephyr for the last time before she goes onto the road trailer on the right. It was a bit of a wrench selling 'Slipstream', especially after spending such a lot of time doing an extensive renovation and rebuild but I am more than happy with my awesome new boat (see the post below).
Roll on Summer, I say.
Good to hear from you Alden.
Success with your OK Dinghy.
The new owner will have a beautiful Zephyr to sail with, restored with the love of a sailor.
Indeed it is time for a fresh spring and beautiful summer. I will be curious to your results in the competition.
This week our summer really ended. We had an exceptional summer, very dry, high temperatures and many sun hours. For outdoor sports it was very good, but for most farmers it was a nightmare. A lot of rain has to fall to compensate for the drought.
Hi Ben, good to hear from you and thanks for the comment. I have already had some success with my new OK Dinghy. I have won the 2022 Winter Series - a series of 16 races between a fleet of 10 boats. My placings were:
4 first places
5 second places
2 third places
4 fourth places
1 fifth place
In terms of points the fifth and one of the fourth places are discard races with 14 of the races counting towards the final points.
What is pleasing is that although the racing is in a mixed fleet (OK Dinghies, Lasers, Jolly Boats etc) all the handicap TCF's (Time Correction Factors) are the same for all the boats (.88). This means that it has been boat to boat racing - first across the line wins - which has been great. When I was racing the Zephyr (With a TCF of .82) I never knew the race result until the handicaps were fed into the computer and the official results were posted.
So I am quite pleased about winning the Winter Series and hope that I can continue to have some good results when the Summer series begins.
I have to admit that I am pretty competitive but not fanatically so. So win or lose, for me just getting out on the water, being close to the wind and sea and simply living the poetry of sailing is reward enough.
This is great! Impressive for the first year in the OK. Was it the experience of long ago that helped you?
It means that OK Dinghies can be faster than Lasers, I didn’t know.
No excuses for being competitive; What is sport without competition?
As my good old biking mate asks me: does it make you a better man when you win? No, but it feels pretty good 😊
Ben, I think that small boat sailing / racing skills are transferable, so when stepping out of a Zephyr into an OK Dinghy I took a certain set of modest skills with me. I think my skills have steadily improved over the years which is showing with some modest success from time to time - but overall I am like an old veteran marathon runner - I am happy simply to beat my last marathon time in a race full of other veterans.
Whether or not an OK Dinghy is faster than a Laser is a moot point. In most races it depends who is sailing the OK Dinghy and who is sailing the Laser!
My experience has been that where the sailing skills of the skippers are equal, the Laser is generally a bit faster in most sailing conditions especially on a broad reach and running down wind. But the OK Dinghy has an edge tacking upwind. This means that I have to get to the top mark in the mixed fleet racing well ahead of the Lasers and fight pretty hard to retain this lead for the rest of the race and I am by no means always successful - which is good because it improves my overall sailing and tactical skills.
New Zealand uses the Weymouth handicap system for mixed fleet racing.
Various handicap systems for mixed fleet sailing show agreement and disagreement regarding the Laser / OK Dinghy:
"Weymouth handicap" system: Laser .88 - OK Dinghy .88
"USA/Portsmouth/x.828" handicap system: Laser .91 - OK Dinghy .86
"Horowhenua" handicap system: Laser .88 - OK Dinghy .85
The handicap systems are built on data that is fed back by various yacht clubs regarding the relative times of the different classes of yachts in mixed fleet racing - hence, I am guessing, the variations in the handicap times between the different systems.
So two of the three handicap systems reflect my experience - the Laser is slightly faster - which reflects the reality of the respective boats hull profiles. The OK Dinghy has a lot more 'rocker' (hull depth) in the hull which makes it slightly faster upwind. The Laser has virtually no rocker, the hull being very flat on the bottom. This profile of 'flatness' means there is less drag in the water which is an advantage when running downwind or broad leading across the wind, as it allows the hull to get up and easily plane across the water which in all wind conditions it does earlier and quicker than an OK Dinghy.
Of course none of this matters when I am racing one to one with other OK Dinghies of which there are now 4 here in Whangarei - with maybe another couple of boats appearing this season.
I just saw this discussion on your blog. Quoting you, “ My experience has been that where the sailing skills of the skippers are equal, the Laser is generally a bit faster in most sailing conditions especially on a broad reach and running down wind. But the OK Dinghy has an edge tacking upwind. This means that I have to get to the top mark in the mixed fleet racing well ahead of the Lasers and fight pretty hard to retain this lead for the rest of the race and I am by no means always successful - which is good because it improves my overall sailing and tactical skills.”
I’m amazed at how parallel your experience in NZ is to mine in CA. Here in California on Tomales Bay north of San Francisco in wine and cheese country, we sail in mixed fleets of singlehanded boats: Lasers, Force 5’s and Banshees. We don’t race formally, but we kind of race always. We’re in sailboats. What’s great about the way we do it is we only sail when the weather is good for sailing and we can drop out of our races just as soon as we’ve been beaten and restart anew. It’s the best.
Anyway, in our mixed fleet, Lasers are always first to plane reaching, but Lasers are also clearly slower to weather, just like for you and your OK. Boy, I wish we had you and your OK dinghy in our informal Marconi Cove Yacht Club, Alden.
Great to hear from you Dan. I would love to race my OK dinghy with the Marconi Cove Yacht Club, but it's a long way to sail my OK dinghy for a bit of weekend sailing - mind you the water and stores needed for a long Pacific crossing to your yacht club would help with my hiking in any strong winds on the several thousand kilometre voyage to CA; and your mention of wine and cheese is certainly an added incentive.
Yes the Lasers are slippery customers indeed. The only boat of similar length that can beat them is the RS Aero, a boat that I have considered for its speed and its weight of only 30kgs - which would make it a lot easier to pull up the launching ramp than the 72kg OK dinghy plus its beach trolley.
Give my regards to the rest of your happy sailors at the MCYC - If nothing else I will be sailing with you all in spirit.
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