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Olympic champion Fredrik Lööf wins OK Dinghy Nordic Championship again after 31 years

by Robert Deaves 12 Jun 04:45 PDT 9-10 June 2018
Fredrik Lööf back in an OK Dinghy at the Nordic Championship © Joel Hernestål, Spline AB

A familiar face for many sailors showed up last weekend in the OK Dinghy boat park in Gottskär, Sweden. Fredrik Lööf stepped back into an OK Dinghy again after three decades away and took the Nordic title, which he previously won aged 17, with four race wins out of five races sailed.

Double European champion, Bo Petersen was second with former world champion, Greg Wilcox in third. A total of 45 sailors from five nations took part.

The host club was SS Kaparen, situated just south of Gothenburg, a family orientated club with a strong and competitive OK Dinghy fleet. The weekend was characterised by light winds and sunny conditions with the very strong fleet enjoying themselves both on and off the water.

Lööf, a multiple champion and Olympic gold medalist previously won the OK Dinghy Nordics back in 1987, when he was just 17 years old, before starting his long career in Finns and Stars. This year he showed good speed right from the start and took all three bullets on the first day. Only Petersen was able to keep up, ending the day with three seconds, while Wilcox was third overnight.

Day two brought similar winds with home sailor Thomas Hansson-Mild taking the day's first race win, after Petersen was disqualifed, followed by Lööf, who chased him all around for a tight finish. In the last race, Lööf once again took the race win, but this time he had a battle with the promising junior, Maja Hansson-Mild, who led for most of the race, only to lose out to Lööf and Petersen and cross third.

Lööf was clearly happy to be back in the class and thanked the club and all the sailors. He explained how special it was to actually be sailing in the OK Dinghy again after so many years away from it. Back in 1987 he didn't dare to make a speech after winning the title, but that was long forgotten now and compensated for by his speech this year.

Lööf said he got back into OKs, "Because I love the basic, elementary sailing like the Finn and OK. I found the OK more fun as it's a lighter boat and I like the simple set up. It's cheaper as well and just great sailing. It is a little special to win the Nordic Championship again as I won it 1987, just before getting into the Finn."

He thinks the equipment has moved on a long way in 30 years. "The equipment has improved a lot, the whole concept is simple with a few suppliers, which is great...in a way better than the Finn."

For his first OK Dinghy in 30 years he chose a UK built Ovington. "I know Ovington build great boats, and I talked to the guys in the class and they were impressed by the performance. I had great back-up from the Swedish supplier Båths, so it was an easy choice. I went for Green sails as they been building OK sails for ever."

On the racing, "The level is great and the sailors love the sport and the OK sailing. It is a great class with no Olympic stress and you can compete at a high level and still enjoy it."

When Lööf started his Finn campaign back in 1987 he was up against Mats Caap, who won the OK World Championship in 1987, before qualifying in the Finn for the 1988 Olympics. Lööf then turned the tables to qualify in 1992, the first of his six appearances at the Games, three in the Finn and three in the Star.

Caap was also racing in Gottskär, having returned to the OK Dinghy a few years ago. Lööf reminisced, "It's always great to sail against Mats. He is such a great sailor and person so that's also a strong reason to get back into the class – to see all your friends."

Runner up, Petersen, who sails a Strandberg hull from Denmark, added, "It is always nice to come to Sweden for sailing, the nature is so beautiful, with this fjord with rocks down in the water, and also the Swedish people are so nice and gentle."

"Fredrik was hard to sail against because he made nearly no mistakes and I was close to being a tourist. I enjoyed it though, because now I know what to do with my training. I only managed to take one bullet away from him but was disqualified for touching the leeward starting mark. Sorry boys."

"Thanks to Kaparen sailing club for making a very nice and cosy Nordic Championship and I'm looking forward to going back to Sweden for the worlds in 2020."

Third placed Wilcox was also impressed by the level of sailing and equipment. "The racing was close and very even as there was not so much wind and now the fleet pretty much all has good gear it is easy to get a bad start and never recover. Some of the top guys like myself and Mats Caap and Thomas Hansson-Mild all had bad races after bad starts."

"It was great to sail against Fredrik as he shows a level of ability that comes with years of professional sailing. He doesn't seem to make mistakes and his fleet positioning is very good. Not being slow helps but he didn't really win on speed. He seemed to really enjoy it as well."

Next up for fleet is Kieler Woche, which has attracted the biggest entry for more than a decade with 70 entries so far. Many sailors are using it as a warm event for the World Championship in Warnemünde, Germany, in early July.

Wilcox concluded, "We have Kiel next weekend with a great fleet lined up so that should be a very good event and perfect warm up for what looks like an extremely competitive worlds. It's great for me as I need the practice. My new Synergy Marine boat is going well, and is fast, but the skipper's head might need a bit of tuning."

The world championship already has a pre-entry list of nearly 130 boats, including, on the back of his Gottskär victory, Lööf. His last OK Dinghy Worlds was also in 1987, where he took fourth place. This year's world's has also pulled in many new names, as well as former champions, and looks like being one of the most competitive championships for a long time.

Overall Results: (top ten)

1 SWE 69, Fredrik Lööf 4pts
2 DEN 1507, Bo Petersen 8pts
3 NZL 582, Greg Wilcox 17pts
4 SWE 139, Hans Börjesson 24pts
5 SWE 100, Thomas Hansson-Mild 26pts
6 DEN 1487, Henrik Kofoed-Larsen 31pts
7 SWE 59, Lars Edwall 33pts
8 SWE 2846, Jonas Börjesson 35pts
9 SWE 797, Mats Caap 38pts
10 DEN 1433, Henrik Kimmel Petersen 42pts

Full results here

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