International OK Dinghy National and World Championships 2011 preview
by Mike Edwards on 18 Jul 2011
The International OK Dinghy National Championships are set to take place from 19-21 July. The World Championships will take place from 25-29 July. All of the action is set to get underway at the Largs Sailing Club in Largs, Scotland.
International OK Dinghy National and Worlds Championships 2011 International OK Dinghy Association - copyright http://www.okdia.org/
The spectacular view greeting competitor’s that are arriving in Largs more than makes up for the long journey. This is the home of Largs Sailing Club and the Scottish Sailing Institute (SSI) and the facilities at this top class venue are really impressive. The team at the club along with David Kent of the SSI could not be more accommodating and friendly. It makes such a difference organising an event such as this when nothing is too much trouble.
The Nationals start on Tuesday with a number of the foreign competitors arriving early to join the Brits in the warm up to next weeks World Championships where OK sailors from eleven countries will compete for the title.
Organising Authority: Scottish Sailing Institute in conjunction with the Sports Scotland National Centre Inverclyde, Largs SC and North Ayrshire Council and the International OK Dinghy British Class Association and the OK Dinghy International Association.
The racing are will be the Clyde estuary between the mainland and the Island of Bute. Largs is the premier sailing venue in Scotland and one of the best in the UK. See the Scottish Sailing Institute website. Since 1999, Largs has been the Royal Yachting Association’s chosen location as the Scottish ‘Centre of Excellence’. It is also a London 2012 official Olympic Training Camp.
The International OK Dinghy is a four metre single-handed racing dinghy, which has enjoyed strong international competition for more than 50 years.
The OK allows the skipper to have a mast and sail designed and built to their weight and sailing style; this gives almost anyone the opportunity, no matter their size, to be at the front of the fleet. This has led to very close racing over a wide wind range.
Most of the boats in the fleet will be all fibreglass, though wooden and composite boats are widely used. Boats are built worldwide and the class is lucky to have a number of quality professional boatbuilders at present.
The OK Dinghy is one of the world’s top amateur classes with a fascinating history going back to 1956. Today it is one of the most prestigious amateur dinghy sailing championships and still one of the hardest to win.
With places limited to around 70, competitors have to qualify in their own countries to be eligible to compete. The OK Dinghy is sailed in about 18 countries worldwide with the major fleets located in Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Denmark and of course the UK. There are smaller fleets in the USA, Canada, India and Thailand.
Recent championships have been held in:
2010 Wellington, New Zealand
2009 Kalmar, Sweden
2008 Warnemunde, Germany
2007 Leba, Poland
2006 Belmont, Australia
2005 Skælskør, Denmark
2004 Parkstone, UK
2003 Goa, India
2002 Napier, New Zealand
The OK Dinghy attracts a wide range of sailors from 15 years old up to 65 years old and everything in between. There are world-class sailors who have won multiple championships across many classes, racing alongside top club sailors and long term class enthusiasts.
It is also a very close-knit class with sailors forming friendships over many decades of competition together. It is often referred to as a family as the sailors become friends for life. There are many family links with brothers, fathers and sons taking part - even fathers and daughters competing against each other.
Past world champions include:
Karl Purdie, NZL, 2008 and 2010
Thomas Hansson-Mild, SWE, 2009
Nick Craig, GBR, 2005, 2006 and 2007
Jim Hunt, GBR 2004
Nitin Mongia, IND, 2003
Greg Wilcox, NZL, 2002
Karsten Hitz, GER, 2000, 2001
Nick Craig, representing Great Britain, will start as one of the favourites and will be hoping to make this a record equalling fourth OK World title. He will face stiff competition from other past OK World Champions Greg Wilcox from New Zealand and Thomas Hansson-Mild from Sweden.
The class also has a history of producing sailors that go onto greater things such as the Olympics, America’s Cup and round the world races. A lot of the world’s top sailors sailed the OK Dinghy early in their career.
'Starting life in 1956, the OK Dinghy design was created by two Danes, Knud Olsen and Axel Damgaard. One was a sailor seeking an exciting new concept in sailing and the other was an experienced designer and boatbuilder who knew how to put a concept onto paper. By their simple design, they have created a lasting family of sailors right across the world ...'
Probably the most famous person to ever step into an OK Dinghy was His Majesty the King of Thailand, King Bhumibol. His first interest in the class started in 1966 with the building of the first four boats in Thailand'. (‘Completely OK’, Edited by Robert Deaves)
Eleven countries will be competing over a series of 10 races to determine the world champion, normally two per day lasting up to 90 minutes each. The fleet will race in everything from three to 30 knots.
The National Championships the week before will be used as a warm up and training event for many as well as attracting many UK sailors who failed to make the team for the World Championships.
International OK Dinghy website
The main headline sponsor for the World Championships is 'Scotty' Brand whose sponsorship will ensure that the event is a truly memorable one.
Other sponsors include Thomas Tunnock Biscuits Ltd and Sangs (macb water), who have generously provided product for competitors use. Competitors will be provided with beer when they come ashore courtesy of Woodlands Brewery and Houston brewery.
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