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Completely OK by Robert Deaves
Completely OK by Robert Deaves

November 2018 issue of OK Dinghy magazine published

by Robert Deaves 21 Nov 2018 15:11 GMT 21 November 2018
Fredrik Lööf on day 5 at 2018 OK Dinghy World Championship, Warnemünde © Robert Deaves

The November 2018 issue of the OK Dinghy International magazine has now been published online and through the letterboxes of OK Dinghy sailors worldwide.

It includes coverage of all the major championships since the last issue in April 2017, as well as a lot of news and articles that illustrate the health and growth of the class at the moment.

The last two world championships and European championships are covered in detail but one quote stand out from these reports.

In Warnemunde, Germany, this past summer, Steve Wilson, from Australia was sailing at his first OK Dinghy worlds outside Australia and relished the experience. "It's fantastic. I have never raced anything like it in my entire life. I've never sailed in any fleet quite like it. There are people from all over the world, with different abilities and different sailing skills and they are all fantastic sailors. It's absolutely fantastic sailing against this calibre fleet. It's a great boat for that and I thoroughly enjoy sailing it. The people, the camaraderie, everyone helps everyone else, the social side of it, everyone is very welcoming and hospitable. It's a real pleasure of a class to sail and I recommend it highly to anybody."

This issue also includes an in-depth look at one of the class's major builders Synergy Marine, from the UK, including an interview with Simon Cox on how he developed his product to win two consecutive world championships.

"My attitude to building and designing boats is that they shouldn't be the fastest boats in any given condition. Championships are typically sailed in a wide variety of conditions so the best boats tend to be those that perform across a wide range of conditions. There's no point in being the fastest upwind if you're slow downwind. And there's no point in being the fastest in big breeze when the championship is a light wind event."

"I think the Synergy hulls are pretty good upwind but very quick downwind. I think they have a wider competitive range of conditions than some other designs. Most typical OK sailors, of which I count myself, are good upwind but don't have the time to get to the level of the top sailors downwind. It helps to have a fast hull downwind unless everyone is sailing the same design."

He borrowed one of his old boats to take part in the highly successful European Championship in Bandol, France, in September. "[It]...reminded me why I got involved with the OK class in the first place. Despite my Scrabble score line it was a superb event. A great bunch of people and a fantastic boat. I love the European events. Really good competition goes right the way through the fleet. Although at times it doesn't feel like it I still enjoy building the boats and we're always looking to tweak the boats to find those small improvements."

Over the past four years the class has been delivering a growth strategy based around improving class management, improving events and increasing membership. One of the key projects was converting the Class Rules to Standard Class Rules using ERS definitions and that has now been achieved. The overall goal is to increase membership and participation, and with many championships now attracting over 100 entries, the class seems to be on the right track.

In the magazine there are updates on the development strategy and the Class Rules process. One of the stated goals is to become the "natural choice for non-Olympic single-handed sailors", and with several former Olympians and Olympic campaigners joining the fleet this year, and several more looking to acquire for boats for next year, the OK Dinghy certainly appears to be the natural choice.

There is an interview with Danish sailor Morten Andersen, who returned to competitive sailing after a 20-year break and was instantly attracted to the OK Dinghy. He trained, and took part in the worlds in Warnemunde this year.

He has this to say, "I have to say it was a great experience participating in the worlds even though I arrived a bit rusty, having not sailed much in the previous months. Physically, I felt on top though and actually hoped for a full week of racing in windy conditions and big waves. People have said it was probably one of the toughest worlds ever in terms of competition and it definitely felt that way. With more than 120 boats racing including former Olympic medalists and a large batch of sailors with more than 20 years of experience sailing the OK Dinghy, it made for high-intensity racing and showcased the global OK class at its absolute best."

The Danish fleet is now the strongest in the world, having increased its membership out of all recognition over the past 10 years, with many local fleets emerging and supporting a busy national schedule. In addition, the class association acquired three complete race-equipped dinghies available for aspiring OK sailors for try-out.

"All in all this makes for a great sailing community with a wealth of collective experience anyone can tap right into. If you fancy, and family allows, you can go racing almost every weekend from spring to autumn often with fleet-sizes up to 60-80 boats if you do the bigger events. What's not to like?"

The final interview is with the Olympic and America's Cup star, Rod Davis (above). The next world championship is at his home club of Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland, and he travelled to Bandol for the Europeans to experience big fleet racing as part of his preparation.

He highlights a few lessons:

"Lesson #3: The guys in 20th-40th are fast, they are just like you, fast, but made poor decisions early on. You are not going to just sail past them. You are going to fight, win a few and lose a few, but they are as fast as the top boats, and there are a lot more of them."

"But a lesson for running future regattas, including the Wakatere worlds, was taught by the club in Bandol. You can have great racing, and create an environment of camaraderie at the same time. Bandol showed a big regatta can be relaxed and fun on shore – you don't have to be up tight and focused all the time."

"Of course the OK Dinghy sailor helps with that too. Think of the OK as the Mob. When you become an OK sailor, you've joined that Mob, you're a brother to all the other OK sailors around the world; you're part of the family. Sharing go-fast ideas, friendly banter, even the occasional disagreement, but always brothers. That is what I have learned in my six years and four boats in the OK world. My favourite kind of sailing."

The OK Dinghy Magazine can be downloaded here or read online here.

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