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OK Dinghy legend Göran Andersson inducted into OKDIA Hall of Fame

by Robert Deaves 25 Jul 2020 06:26 BST
OK Dinghy legend Göran Andersson © Robert Deaves

The name Göran Andersson is synonymous with the OK Dinghy class. In May 2020 he was inducted into the OKDIA Hall of Fame at his home on the island of Tjörn, near to Marstrand, in Sweden.

Göran Andersson was World Champion in 1965 and 1966 after previously representing Sweden in the 1960 Olympic Games in the Finn class. But perhaps his greatest legacy was creating the Marinex brand in Marstrand, where he moved with his family at the age of 10.

The 2020 OK Dinghy World Championship was supposed to be sailed in Marstrand, a place that during the 1960s and 1970s was one of the major strongholds of OK Dinghy sailing in Sweden. During the Worlds it was planned to induct Göran into the Hall of Fame to acknowledge his outstanding contribution to the class. Unfortunately that could not happen due to COVID-19, so in May OKDIA Vice President Jonas Börjesson went to visit Göran on Tjörn to not only make the presentation, but also to interview him for the forthcoming OK Dinghy magazine.

It could be said that Göran Andersson raised the level of professionalism in the OK Dinghy class. His breakthrough was immediate and he was ahead of his time in developing sails and masts. Born in 1939 Göran spent his first years on the Swedish west coast before the move to Marstrand, where his father had been appointed manager of a bank office.

He soon took to sailing and started sailing the Finn in 1955. He had been inspired by some of the older local Finn sailors and by Paul Elvstrøm, who had been invited to Marstrand for a training camp. He saw him sail and thought to himself that one day 'I am going to be as good as Paul'. Therefore, he started to sail the Finn. There were several Finn sailors at Marstrand at that time and many of them built their own boats. Soon Göran was among the top Finn sailors in Sweden and Scandinavia and in 1960 he represented Sweden in the Rome Olympics, which was sailed in Naples. In 1961 Göran won the Nationals with straight bullets in an 80-boat fleet. He continued to dominate the Finn class in Sweden for many years.

During 1960 and 1961 the first few OK Dinghies were built in Marstrand and it quickly grew in popularity and soon many more boats were built in Marstrand and nearby. OK Dinghy sailing completely exploded in Sweden during the early 1960s. Between 1961 and 1964 more than 1,200 OK Dinghies were built. The numbers of sailors and the tough competition within the OK Dinghy class made Göran curious about the boat. There were 10-15 competitive local sailors, which provided a perfect opportunity for good training. "Basically, I realized I would become a better Finn sailor if I also sailed the OK." In 1965 he participated in his first OK Dinghy nationals in Luleå and he won. He qualified for the Worlds in England that year. The Danes that had been dominating the class were taken by surprise. Göran won that event and the following year in Veerse Meer, The Netherands.

He started Marinex in 1959. He was only 20 years old then and the business included marketing and selling different kind of boats as well as producing sails and masts. Early on he got an order of 100 kit Optimist dinghies. He also made the sails for these dinghies and from that it just kept going. The demand for Marinex sails and masts grew and the company moved several times to better suited facilities. Several hundreds of OK Dinghies were also made under the brand name Marinex. During the 1960s and 1970s the Marinex sail was dominant in several classes and won plenty of national and international championships. For several years the Marinex OK Dinghy hulls and masts and sails dominated the class.

The OKDIA Hall of Fame was established in 2007 on the occasion of the class's 50th anniversary to honours its outstanding members. Göran Andersson is the 20th inductee and only the second Swede.

The full Hall of Fame can be seen here

The full article and interview with Göran Andersson can be read in the July 2020 issue of OK Dinghy International (published 27 July): issuu.com/okdinghy

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