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All set for the Allen Sailing OK Nationals at Weymouth Sailing Club

by Karen Robertson 4 Aug 05:25 BST 5-8 August 2021
Allen Sailing OK Nationals at Weymouth © OK Class

As we watch in awe of the Olympians as Team GB collecting medals at Enoshima with some making it look easy and others apparently making life hard for themselves, sailors up and down the country will be saying - "that could be me...", "that could have been me..." or possibly "how on earth do they do that?".

For the biggest OK fleet in many years gathering this week at Weymouth Sailing Club for the first OK Nationals since 2019, it is time to decide which of those outlooks they subscribe to or indeed if they care. However for the Allen Sailing OK Nationals there are always multiple ways to succeed and not just those who take away the big shiny trophies.

EWOKs - For some of the Extra Worthy OKs (EWOKs) who may appear further down the results page than some, but who make up the most important part of any Nationals fleet, getting round a big sea course in big waves in reasonable shape may well be a bigger personal achievement than any mere 'race win' from one of the fast guys could ever be. As every good class knows, the fleet is always bigger than the sum of it's sailors and the EWOKs prove that every year in keeping the young un's and fast un's on their toes onshore.

Yellow Jacket - Who will win the fabled Yellow Jacket each day. It is awarded not for being series leader, but for being 'Dick of the Day' and joining the ranks of those who had made fools of themselves in some outstanding way at the OK Nationals. We have seen capsizing on the committee boat anchor line, getting stuck on the beach, tacking round at a gybe when you're at the front of the fleet or capsizing within yards of the beach. Every year the talent within the OK fleet to do something laughable grows and every year others get to wear (and sign) the Yellow Jacket.

The Social - The OK fleet in almost every country is ferociously sociable with a penchant for ensuring the host club makes healthy returns on hosting the fleet. With the promise of a refreshing beer at the top of the slip courtesy of HD Sails and a special shipment of Clavell and Hind 'Blunderbuss' arriving courtesy of our own Brewmeister Richard 'Burt' Burton. As a wise sailor once said, anybody can design a 'better', 'faster' boat, but a successful class is always made by the people and the social is an integral part of that in OK fleets around the globe.

The Racing - Somebody has to win and collect the pots and with 5 time OK World Champion (and current National Champion) Nick Craig in attendance the bookies will have him down on short odds, but he's not going to have it all his own way. With a fairly fruity forecast looking likely, heavy air aficionados Dave Bourne and 2019 runner up Richard Burton have the potential for race wins. Current #5 in the OK World Rankings, Ovington Boats MD (as well as FF15 World and National Champion), Chris Turner knows how to win races and big events so must be in with a shout. His brother Jim, fresh from the Americas Cup and the thriving OK scene at Wakatere SC in NZ is an unknown quantity in the UK but is across for the event giving the event an international feel (along with a few UK based Kiwis and Polish boats). Fergus Barnham has scored several third places at OK Nationals in recent years, and while not the biggest is probably the fittest sailor in the fleet. Ex-Finn National Champion and ex-British Sailing Team member Henry Weatherall will be sailing the North Sails works OK and must be hoping for a top result to take back with him. He may be new to the class, but his BST pedigree cannot be ignored (not in the week that Giles showed us all how to do it!) Finally, while there has not been much racing in the UK for the last 2 years, a new fleet that has grown at Hayling Island and they have not had a proper chance to gauge their speed against the established OK players, but with some notable sailing names in there and a love of big waves, the HISC boys may be in with a chance.

The Boats - The big turnout reflects the upturn the OK class has experienced worldwide in recent years and it will be great to have three of the top OK builders in the World present with Chris Turner from Ovington Boats, Simon Cox from Synergy Marine and Alex Scoles from Idol Composites. OKs are individualistic boats with all sorts of things being tried out year or year to find and edge so no doubt many technical matters will be discussed after racing!

Finally we say thanks to all out loyal sponsors Allen Sailing, Ovington Boats, North Sails, HD Sails, Rain and Sun Covers and Noble Marine Insurance.

It is going to be a great event and we are so looking forward to getting OK racing fully under way again.

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