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Huge OK Dinghy fleet preparing for world title battle in Brisbane

by Robert Deaves 15 Feb 05:35 PST 24 February - 3 March 2024
2023 OK Dinghy World Championship, Lyme Regis, UK © Robert Deaves

The biggest OK Dinghy world championship to ever be held in Australia starts in Brisbane in just over a week's time, preceded by the Australian National Championship, which starts on Monday.

The Tan Lines Distilling 2024 OK Dinghy World Championship is being hosted by the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, with the racing taking place on Waterloo Bay from 24 February to 3 March. The Australian championship runs from 19-21 February.

However, with the European boats still to be delivered it might be tempting fate to make this bold statement. While the majority of the fleet will be taken by Australian and New Zealand boats, there are 18 Europeans taking part. It is the first event since before the pandemic that any nation has sent containers. Two containers from New Zealand have already arrived. The two from Europe were diverted and then delayed but will hopefully be there just in time. The Scandinavian container arrived in Brisbane on Wednesday. The British container was stuck in Sydney for a while and is due Brisbane any day now.

Notwithstanding any potential disruption, with 110 entries from seven nations, it is the largest entry by some way for an OK Dinghy World Championship in Australia. It was last held in Australia in 2014, in Melbourne, and this is the first time it has been held outside the southern states.

This championship will also mark the fifth time in a row that the OK Dinghy world championship has attracted more than 100 boats. 110 entries for an Australian event was more than was originally hoped for, but is rapidly becoming the norm for the class. The last pre-pandemic worlds in 2019, attracted 111 entries to Auckland, New Zealand. Overall, the class continues to see an upward trend and with the 2025 World Championship heading to Garda for the first time, many are predicting 200 boats on the lake.

Winning a down-under worlds by a European sailor has never been easy and has only happened on three occasions over the last 60 years. The last person to do that was Nick Craig in 2006, when he won the second of his five world titles.

He is the leading sailor in Brisbane from last year, where he placed sixth at the worlds, and second at Europeans. Having already won more OK Dinghy world titles than anyone else, he is still hungry for more, and will be among the favourites in Brisbane. The small British contingent also includes last year's Spring Cup winner, Andy Davis as well as Chris Turner.

The large Kiwi team includes multiple national champion Steve McDowell, who placed eighth last year in Lyme Regis. He is joined by most of the top sailors from the recent nationals including the evergreen Rod Davis, Gordon Sims and Mark Perrow. Past world champion Greg Wilcox has also travelled in from Germany.

A home turf worlds has attracted the largest Australian fleet in memory. Last year Rob McMillan won both the OK Dinghy and Finn nationals in successive weeks on Waterloo Bay, and he has been seen training in earnest for this championship. If it's breezy he could prove hard to beat. The Australian team also includes two-time world champion Roger Blasse, as well as Tim Davies and Mark Jackson.

There are 86 entries for the Australian National championship. This runs over three days from 19-21 February, followed by three days of equipment inspection and registration for the world championship. Racing gets under way on 26 February with a series of 10 races scheduled to, and including, 2 March. A lay day is planned on 29 February, assuming at least four races have been completed by then.

All the details to follow the event are HERE. All that is needed now is for the European boats to turn up...

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