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OK Dinghy - Maverick sails OK Corral with several smart design and build features

by Richard Gladwell/ 26 Nov 2021 13:37 PST 27 November 2021
The 3-D dashboard is a very neat and positions the controls handily for the helmsman, other features are the Ultralon hiking pads and floors pads, two drink bottle holders, and the use of the cockpit liner - Wakatere BC October 25, 2021 © Richard Gladwell /

A new OK Dinghy is rolling off the production line in Auckland.

Built by four times America's Cup champion Mattie Mason, the new OK shape is designed for the heavier sailor.

Designer Dan Leech, who also designed and produced the kit boat sailed by Dan Slater to win the 2019 World OK Championship, drew the Maverick design, which has more volume in the aft sections to accommodate heavier sailors.

"It's an evolution of Dan's boat. It should be a better boat, even for lighter sailors, as the boat will float slightly higher.

"We've put a lot of work into finessing the systems," Mason explains.

Builder Mattie Mason took the first boat, which served as a prototype for the next two launched and there are two more in build.

Being a 65 year old class, the 72kg minimum hull weight is very generous and easy to achieve. Mason explains the Maverick has been optimised to get the weight and strength in the right place.

Mason says that building the moulds involved hundreds of hours, but the reward is that the boats measure beautifully and are well underweight requiring the maximum allowed correctors to be fitted.

Foils are by Mackay Boats, and are standard "off the shelf" parts. The centreboard is a neat fit in the case which is a machined aluminium case that modelled around the Mackay foil.

"Using that approach, we have minimum tolerances with the foil, which reduces drag, and play between the foil and centreboard slot," Mason explains.

"The centre case is critical in the design of the boat. We can make it out of heavy glass and get some weight into the all-epoxy infused boat. We've engineered the boat with uni's running through the deck, along with diagonals to eliminate any twisting. The boats are built using epoxy infused construction in female moulds.

The Maverick has a lot of interesting design features that have been incorporated into the boat itself, rather than being installed during the fit out process.

One of these is a rectangular hatch moulding in the foredeck, which allows easier access to the mast step adjustment, and can then be closed off with a lid, held in place with shock cord or taped shut.

There are several interesting features in the cockpit area. The cockpit itself is a liner or sub-moulding, which drops in as a separate component.

That gives a smooth finish to the internal cockpit sides, along with some nice detailing which is not easy with a conventional building approach.

The main bulkhead and aft bulkhead are tied together as a moulded piece which is fitted and secured when the hull is still in the mould, this creates a mini super structure and helps prevent any hull twist.

Hiking pads and non-skid on the floor are CNC cut by U-DEK-by-Ultralon and are very smartly finished, make a nice feature, and are very functional.

The Maverick package is rounded out with a spar from a spar from C-Tech or a Paragon section. The three boats launched to date use a boom package from Art of Racing.

John Cutler, Olympic Bronze medalist in the Finn class, and now a TP52 helmsman and professional sailing coach, was loaned an OK Dinghy to get started in the class, while he waited for his Maverick to be built.

Like many professional sailors, Cutler is turning to small boats like the OK or foiling Moth to keep their racing skills sharp during the downtime on the professional racing circuit.

"Finally I've got my new boat, and now it's about getting everything how I like it and seeing how we go," he explained. "The key is just to enjoy it, I've got no expectations, outside club racing.

"The OK's have a nice travelling series, when we're allowed to travel around New Zealand, our aim is to do that and see different parts of New Zealand.

Until the airline routes open up again without the need for quarantine, Cutler says he won't be competing internationally in the class, for two or three years. But the 2024 Worlds in Brisbane is definitely an option.

Originally designed by Denmark's Knud Olsen, the OK Dinghy was intended as a trainer for the Olympic Finn class. But Cutler assures us that the OK "isn't a small Finn."

"Despite having a hard chine, and with the rig being quite stiff and that sort of thing, they're quite tweaky, and hard work, like the Finn - but I was a lot fitter and stronger 14 years ago!"

"It is very different from steering the TP52," he added.

"It is quite hard to make them go fast, I haven't figured that part - and we're a long way away from that point. But we're getting there."

Cutler explains that part of his motivation for getting the OK was that he needed to stay sharp for the professional sailing circuit. "It's been really good, " he says. "Rod [Davis] has been really good to work with. We both like measuring stuff and playing around, to see what goes well. It's been really fun."

A feature of the Maverick is the 3-D printed control line dashboard, set into the forward cockpit bulkhead, which keeps the lines central, improves the adjustment angle and keeps the lines themselves underdeck.

Cutler explains the 3-D part just pops out, and the control lines can be accessed if required, and then the dashboard with integral control sheaves pops back in place, ready to go sailing.

"It all looks very nice when you're finished, but a lot of work goes in to get control line layout just right," Cutler explains.

"The class is very popular worldwide, and is growing in New Zealand, " Mason says. "We'll get over 30 boats club racing here at Wakatere in the summer. They include John Cutler and John Cobb, who are sailing the new model Maverick."

"It will all help get the level up, so we are more competitive when we go overseas."

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