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Return to paradise – OK Dinghy Europeans open in Bandol

by Robert Deaves 27 Sep 2022 19:53 BST 27 September - 1 October 2022

Once again, the beach at Bandol, France, has filled up with OK Dinghies from all over Europe ahead of the 2022 European Championship, which was opened on Tuesday at the Société Nautique de Bandol. The OK Dinghy class loves coming to Bandol and this event marks a much-anticipated return to the home of OK Dinghy sailing on the Mediterranean.

Around 80 boats from 11 nations have arrived in Bandol to be greeted by a mistral that caused the cancellation of Tuesday's practice race. However, those who arrived early have been training in some amazing sailing conditions, with big waves, sunshine and 20 knot winds on the bay over the past few days.

The OK Dinghy European championship was last held here in 2018 and looking for any excuse to return, the class also initiated an Autumn Trophy which was held in Bandol last year for the first time and that largely acted as a catalyst to attract the high entry this year.

The entry list is a who's who of OK Dinghy sailing and includes five times world champion Nick Craig, from Britain, twice European champion Bo Petersen, from Denmark, plus past world champions Greg Wilcox, from New Zealand, and Thomas Hansson-Mild, from Sweden. In addition, other top sailors here include Valerian Lebrun and Laurent Hay from France, Stefan de Vries, from the Netherlands, and Andy Davis, from Britain.

Greg Wilcox has been to all the events in Bandol and explained why he keeps coming back.

"Mainly because I like to have fun with my friends in nice places, and what's not to like about Bandol? Sunshine, warm water, big waves, and amazing hospitality. It's the most fun we have all year."

Last year, Nick Craig won the inaugural Autumn Trophy in Bandol.

"I came here last year for the first time and it was one of the best places I have ever sailed. Fantastic sailing waters, great race management. For those of us from further north it extends our summer with 25 degrees every day while it is starting to get cold back home.

"Plus Bandol has a lot of lovely restaurants and of course superb rosé wine.

"The OK Dinghy class is a good bunch of people and we have some great racing. Importantly for me, this event is a good time of year and doesn't clash with any Opi events, so I free to come.

"It's also great to be back in the OK getting ready for the worlds next year back home in Lyme Regis, which is going to be a fantastic event for the class and the UK fleet.

"I am really looking forward to a great championship this week."

Racing is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 11.00. Ten races are planned until Saturday 1 October. It is hoped the mistral will moderate overnight but the rest of the event could present some challenging conditions to the fleet with more strong winds forecast.

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