What makes the OK one of the most attractive single handers classes?
Australian OK Dinghy Championship 2013 will be featuring a number of top-notch sailors in the country, riding on one of the most popular single handle dinghy designs.
Fifty plus years after being designed, the OK remains an incredibly popular single handle dinghy in Australia and internationally. In part, the reason for this is that the boat is quite simply a delight to sail both upwind and off the breeze.
The other reason though is that the class tends to attract a particular breed of sailor. Unlike many classes, where only a few of their sailors seem to hang around for more than a few years, the OK has an attraction whereby once in, most choose to stay.
The 51st Australian Championships kicked off at Wangi RSL Sailing Club, Lake Macquarie, on 30 December with a fleet of 41 boats. When scrolling through the entry list you come across the likes of Bill Tyler, who first started sailing the OK in the 1970s along with his mate Bruce Ashton, who continues to be competitive 40 years later.
Then there is International President Andre Blasse, who started sailing the OK when he was 16 along with his brother, and 1998 world champion, Roger and fellow Black Rock Sailing Club member, Mark Jackson. 30 years later all three remain as dedicated and as excited about sailing the OK as they were as teenagers. At the other end of the spectrum is local lad Mitch Wilson, who at 14, represents the next generation of OK sailors.
In between you find the 20, 30 and 40 something year olds you have been sailing this wonderful little boat for many many years, attending, without failure, national, interdominion and world championships.
The question really is why? I suspect it is because the typical OK sailor tends to be the sort of guy who is only too willing to lend a helping hand to new members, whether in the boat park, or over a quiet few members after the race. Many years ago we realized that sharing knowledge was the only sure way to improve the fleet as a whole, and the results when Australians compete in the international arena have proven this to be true.
In March around 24 Aussies will head off to Thailand where they will compete against their overseas mates at the 51st OK World Championship. In December 2014 the Worlds are being hosted at Black Rock Yacht Club in Melbourne. What a perfect time to jump into an OK and start your preparation for what is going to be a tremendous championship.