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Spectacular OK Dinghy World Championship fuels further growth and enthusiasm

by Robert Deaves 26 Jul 2023 05:12 PDT

The recent highly successful OK Dinghy World Championship at Lyme Regis is another step in the ongoing growth of the OK Dinghy Class worldwide.

The event attracted the second largest attendance at any OK Dinghy world championship ever, with a 50 percent increase on expected entries. It also attracted a significant number of new sailors, many of whom joined the class for the high-quality racing at great venues as well as the infamous social element.

Fantastically hosted by Lyme Regis Sailing Club, in Britain, with more than 70 volunteers helping throughout the week, it was a great example of what a small club can do when the reality far exceeds the expectations. The beach party was a sight to behold, with 15-20 people helping every day to get the huge fleet on and off the water, an often overlooked, and entirely necessary part of any event...especially when the tide was out.

The enthusiasm and welcome from the club members were amazing, and the endless free beer (thanks to the huge number of sponsors) and hot sausage rolls after racing went down a treat. It will be a hard act to follow for sure, though if truth be told, OK Dinghy event organisers raise the bar every year and that's part of what brings people back year after year. Huge thanks to Lyme Regis Sailing Club and all its members for putting on a spectacular event.

The class has a lot to look forward to in the coming years with events in Garda, Brisbane and Palma coming up. It's something of an anomaly in the class that it has never held a major championship on Lake Garda, but there are two coming up within the next two years and that is proving to be a major pull for many sailors.

The new world champion, Henry Wetherell, said, "The big one for me and my friends will be in Lake Garda in 2025. I think that is going to be really big. A few of the guys I know came down to watch earlier this week and they sound like they are going to buy some OKs."

Gear at the 2023 World Championship

It might be interesting to look at the gear used at the world championship. This data covers about 90 percent of the fleet of 143 boats that provided the necessary information.

As would be expected British built hulls and sails dominated in terms of numbers, but masts, booms were more spread geographically.

It's also interesting to look at the weight of correctors with less than 20 percent of the fleet carrying the maximum weight of 5 kg.

There was also a diverse range of equipment within the top 10, with the top four sailing different boats and six different sailmakers showing in the top 10. In fact there were hulls from 24 builders taking part and 13 sailmakers.

Hall of Fame 2023

During the worlds in Lyme Regis, former class stalwarts Brenda and Donald Andrews were inducted into the OKDIA Hall of Fame. Brenda and Don were the face of OKDIA during the 1990s.

Following around 10 years as secretary of the British Class Association, Brenda Andrews took over as Secretary of OKDIA from 1990 to 2002. She took over at a difficult time for the class, with various organisational and financial problems, but brought the situation under control and is widely regarded as having saved OKDIA from bankruptcy and further problems. Brenda passed away in 2021.

Don Andrews was Chairman of the British Class Association for a number of years before becoming Chairman of the OKDIA Technical Committee from 1988 to 2001, the longest serving Chairman up to that time. He was rigorous in keeping the Class Rules up to date and diplomatically handling the many ideas from national associations for change.

Full story and Hall of Fame Roll of Honour here

Upcoming events

As well as traditional venues, the class is not afraid to venture into new destinations where possible, to both support existing and emerging fleets but also to provide attractive events at fun and interesting venues.

The 2021 World Championship was supposed to be on Garda for the first time, but after it was unfortunately cancelled due to the pandemic, it was rescheduled for 2025. However to satisfy the fleet's desire to sail there, the 2023 European championship was organised for 2023. It will be hosted by Circolo Vela Arco from 9-14 September and there are already 60 entries and rising fast. The event website is here: 2023.okeuropeans.org

Straight afterwards is the Autumn Trophy at Bandol, in France, from 16-19 September, for four days of Mediterranean sailing at what has become an end of season must-do event. The event webpage is here. Please get your entries in as soon as possible so the club can plan another great event. New payment options and arrival instructions have just been added to the website.

Around seven containers are being planned to be shipped from New Zealand and Europe to Brisbane, Australia for the 2024 World Championship at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for what is expected to be the largest OK Dinghy worlds ever held in Australia. The event website is at 2024.okworlds.org. Entry is already open and the Notice of Race will be published shortly.

Over the last few years, a fleet of madly enthusiastic OK Dinghy sailors has been growing in Palma, Spain, and to encourage further growth the 2024 European Championship will be held at the Real Club Nautico de Palma in the heart of the city. The dates are expected to be the final week of October and further details will be announced shortly.

While a decision on the 2025 European Championship is expected shortly, the 2025 World Championship will be back on Garda\ at Circolo Vela Arco. Dates are yet to be decided but most likely will be late September. Many of those who joined the fleet in the last few years have their eyes firmly on this event, where no one will be surprised if there are more than 200 boats showing up.

There is a lot of interest in running OK Dinghy events with the next round of bids to be heard at the AGM during the 2024 worlds in Brisbane.

Ready. Get set. Go OK.

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