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New OK Dinghy Magazine published: Class growth, hot chat and new faces

by Robert Deaves 16 Dec 2022 10:13 GMT
After a great 2022 season the OK Dinghy Class is looking forward to 2023 © Robert Deaves

The OK Dinghy International Association has produced an early Christmas present for OK Dinghy sailors worldwide with the publication of the January 2023 issue of OK Dinghy Magazine.

The cover features Michal Strumnik, from Poland, crashing through a wave in Bandol this year, an event no one will forget in a hurry.

In his President's Letter, Mark Jackson talks about a 'bucket list' of venues and the class is lucky enough to be ticking off many of these at the moment.

"After two years of ups and downs, false starts, on again, off again, what a cracker of a European summer season. Marstrand had long been on my 'bucket list' of sailing venues and it was agonising to have to wait an additional two years to finally get there after the 2020 Worlds were cancelled due to Covid. We experienced great competition, great race management, great weather and great socials. Next on my 'bucket list' are Bandol and Lake Garda."

This edition includes in-depth reports from both the 2022 World Championship in Marstrand and the European Championship in Bandol, plus a round up of the results since the last edition. Both Garda and Bandol are coming up again in 2023.

The interview

There is a feature interview with 2022 World Champion, Charlie Cumbley and runner-up Niklas Edler. They discuss the Marstrand venue, their gear and what attracts them to sail this class.

Cumbley said, "I like singlehanded dinghy sailing; it's my cup of tea. You are in charge of your destiny. The OK is fun and addictive to sail and it rewards accuracy. It's not the fastest and latest class but it still attracts a lot of good sailors."

Edler said, "After three years I am still learning a lot. There are many possibilities to trim the boat and there are many good sailors that know all the tricks in the book. The OK is fascinating and one of the old classes that have been constantly updated to stay current and take advantage of the new materials. The carbon masts make it great to sail. The boat is developed for the right reasons and not for conserving how it once was."

How to keep the OK class thriving is a hot topic.

Cumbley said, "Well written race reports, captivating photos and easy to access information that reaches all sailors. Good venues where sailors want to race is a great attraction for the class. Having good kit from reputable suppliers makes it easier to start in the class. There have been great developments in the last years."

Growth

The growth of OK Dinghy sailing worldwide continues its upward trajectory. OKDIA now numbers 17 national members, the highest for probably 40 years. In the last years the class has welcomed back Thailand, as well as welcoming Brazil, Bulgaria and Italy, and in 2022 has added Argentina and Spain. There is a lot of exciting activity in Thailand, Bulgaria and Mallorca.

Individual membership of OKDIA increased 6 per cent in 2022 and it is hard to see this trend slowing down. In terms of boats, in 2021 OKDIA sold 94 building plaques for new boats, the most in any single year since 1980, and with more than 400 boats built in the last five years, it is all quite encouraging.

Both the major venues in 2023 are expected to bring in big numbers. The world championship in Lyme Regis, in Britain, in June is expected to be the largest OK Dinghy championship ever held in the UK. Then the fleet heads to Garda for the Europeans in September, closely followed by the Autumn Trophy in Bandol. Just five months after that, the fleet heads south to Brisbane, Australia, for the 2024 World Championship at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, on the same waters as the 2032 Olympic Games are planned. There are previews to both Lyme Regis and Brisbane in this edition.

Palma and Bulgaria

There have been two amazing success stories in recent years, with growing fleets in Palma and Bulgaria.

In May 2022 the OKDIA office received an order from Palma for a couple of copies of Completely OK and then a few weeks later the phone rang and there was a Spanish guy at the other end asking about building boats and how to get them registered. That was the start of a summer of correspondence between Palma and the UK, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, and other places, that led to Spain joining OKDIA, and three Spanish boats racing at the Europeans in Bandol, including two new boats built in Palma.

The growth continues, with four more boats joining the fleet in November, prospects of several other potential sailors, a winter training programme with some Danish sailors and perhaps some regattas in the near future. Exciting times.

An OK Dinghy training camp was just held at the Real Club Náutico de Palma, with seven boats on the water and 11 sailors from six nations and more are planned in the new year, with many northern Europeans looking forward to some Mediterranean sunshine early in the year.

Gallery from the weekend here

In October 2020, a conversation also started with Bulgaria. Stefan Raev had just bought an OK Dinghy from the UK and sounded very enthusiastic about starting a fleet. By the following year, there were two boats and Bulgaria joined OKDIA, with just two sailors. Now it has grown to nine and in November 2022 they held their first OK Dinghy regatta, as far as we know the first OK Dinghy regatta ever held in Bulgaria.

They plan to participate in international regattas next year, to gain more experience, and intend to organize training and sessions to develop the class in Bulgaria.

The magazine contains the full stories of both new fleets.

While hard copies of the magazines are being delivered by Santa's sleigh, an online version is also available to read here and download as a PDF here.

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