No Championship Too Far, Mahn

Published on May 29th, 2017

It was in 1957 when Axel Dangaard Olsen of Seattle (WA) asked the Danish yacht designer Knud Olsen to prepare drawings for a light and fast single-handed sailing dinghy based on conventional plywood construction. The O.K. was born, with the intention for it to be a preparation class for the Olympic Finn.

Both classes remain strong today, so strong in fact that they will be hosting major championships far from their active fleets, but travel is a small price to pay when you are traveling to the sunny Caribbean isle of Barbados.

The 2017 OK Dinghy World Championship have 79 sailors from eight countries competing May 27-31, and then followed by 139 sailors at the Finn World Masters follows on June 5-9 – a double world championship extravaganza. A lucky few sailors will be taking part in both championships.

For both classes, it is the first time they have ventured to Bajan waters.

The events are being hosted by both the Barbados Yacht Club and the Barbados Cruising Club, which are located almost side by side on the south-western corner of Barbados in Carlisle Bay. The team delivering the event is the same team that delivered the Fireball, 505 and most recently the GP14 World Championship.

This will be the third time the OK Dinghy class has ventured outside its normal fleet regions in Europe and Australasia into ‘exotic’ locations, after India in 2003 and Thailand in 2013, and the Barbados event will be the biggest yet.

The competition at the OK Dinghy Worlds is deep with four former world champions taking part including the current world champion, Jim Hunt of Great Britain.

What keeps bringing Hunt back to the class? “I enjoy the close racing and the international competitions. I’m still learning how to get the best out of the rig and how to get downwind quickly. Plenty to work on and it keeps it interesting.”

Jim Hunt in 2016

A few of the sailors will have experienced Barbados conditions and hospitality before, most notably Nick Craig of Great Britain, who placed a close third at the GP14 World Championships in 2016.

Craig is one of three four-time OK Dinghy World Champions, so a fifth title would make him the most successful OK Dinghy sailor of all time. He is back in a new boat after a four year gap from competing at this level.

“I’m enjoying racing again in the best single-handed amateur fleet in the world and catching up with old friends after a four-year break.”

After posting a 1-1-1-2-3-1, Craig holds a nine point lead over Jim Hunt.

Source: Robert Deaves

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