2023 Autumn Trophy, Bandol, FRA

If you want to know what makes the OK Dinghy class tick, then take a look at the new international class magazine, published in January 2024.

OKDIA President, Mark Jackson sums up the class as he starts off his letter to members, “Looking back over a year full of regattas, we continue to see the growing attraction of the OK Dinghy as the class of choice for those who want great one design racing, a great social atmosphere, excellent equipment availability and a well-managed technical side. 2023 was a year of many highlights and the first time the class has held a major international event at Lake Garda, Italy.”

Much of the January 2024 issue is taken up with events last year, where for the first time in the history of the class, both the world and European championships attracted more than 100 entries.

The Ovington Boats and Pro-Set Resins 2023 OK Dinghy World Championship was held in Lyme Regis, UK, with an outstanding entry of 143 boats from 13 countries. It was without doubt the strongest OK Dinghy fleet that had ever gathered together in one place, and the second largest of all time. Former Finn sailor Henry Wetherell started off well and just got better and better. Though he didn’t win a race until the final day, he dominated both final races to take two race wins in the hardest conditions of the week to take the title by five points. The 2022 runner-up Niklas Edler had to settle for second again after a very good series, while Valerian Lebrun took bronze just six points back.

Then in September, the 2023 OK Dinghy European Championship was held at Circolo Vela Arco, on Lake Garda, with a star-studded line up of 112 sailors from 15 nations. The 2021 World Championship at CVA was cancelled because of the pandemic, and because of other scheduled events could not be rescheduled until 2025, so to fill the gap the club agreed to hold a European Championship. The British dominated with Charlie Cumbley winning from Nick Craig and Matt Howard. One comment summed up the feelings of many: “This is the best OK race I ever attended. It’s absolutely fantastic here. The weather, the landscape, you feel relaxed, it’s fantastic.”

As the event closed, thoughts turned to 2025, when the World Championship will also be hosted by Circolo Vela Arco. Five time world champion Craig commented on the venue. “I think this in one of the best places to sail in the world, and then the shoreside is amazing as well, the restaurants, the bars, it’s a fantastic holiday as well. We wouldn’t be surprised if we get 200+ boats for the worlds in 2025.”

The interview feature in this issue is with Henry Wetherell and Jens Eckardt. At the worlds, Wetherell duked it out with veterans who have been sailing competitively longer than he’s been alive. Among them, Eckardt, more than twice Wetherell’s age, a former Danish Olympic competitor in the Laser in 1996, who started sailing OKs only a couple of years ago and has now finished fourth in the worlds twice in a row. They talk about what motivates them to sail, why they love the OK Dinghy, the class culture and share some secrets to their success.

Wetherell stated, “A few of my friends sail the OK. Quite a few of people that coached me in the Finn; Matt Howard, Charlie Cumbley and Andrew Mills also sail the OK and are competitive. I want to sail for myself just because it is fun. I’m sure more will join because it’s a competitive class, with good races in attractive venues. I have many Finn friends asking questions about the boat. I believe there is potential for more than 200 boats at the Worlds on Lake Garda in 2025.”

Eckardt says the class has become very attractive, “For me it is not about the boat, it is more about that I can sail with all my friends in my home club and have fun. The boat is secondary, but of course the OK Dinghy is a good boat to sail and race. It can be tailored to the sailor, and you can make it personal. Show that sailing is fun and that you can win regattas with many different combinations of boats, sails, and masts. Look at the top 10 finishers gear at last year’s Worlds and you will see how diverse the choices are. It is a big positive for the class.”

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the dream of many Australian and New Zealand sailors was to travel to Europe and compete in a bunch of regattas and a World Championship. Brothers Glenn and Brent Williams did this in the 1980s, and now, as two aging OK sailors in their 60s trying to relive their youth, they repeated the experience in 2023, except on a bigger budget, buying new boats and renting a new car. Over four months, they traversed six countries, did 10 regattas, with 57 days of sailing, 68 races and drove 11,500 km. Brent tells the story of their epic adventure.

Other articles include:

• Overview of two surveys carried out in 2023
• A look at the equipment used in Lyme Regis and Garda
• A look at what’s happening in some of the OKDIA member nations worldwide
• Results from 20+ ranking regattas and the latest World Ranking List
• News and forthcoming events

Read it online or download the PDF OK-Magazine-Jan-2024: