Henry Wetherell wins ultra-competitive OK Dinghy Worlds after epic final day in Lyme Regis

Britain’s Henry Wetherell has won the 2023 Ovington Boats and Pro-Set Resins OK Dinghy World Championship in Lyme Regis after the final two races on Friday. Niklas Edler, from Sweden, took the silver while Valerian Lebrun, from France, took the bronze. 

The final day brought colder and stronger winds with a lot of cloud and some rain. It was a tough end to what has been a tough week in Lyme Regis.

Wetherell dominated the final day and won both the gold fleet races in the biggest winds and waves of the week to take the lead for the first time. In the first race he fought off a strong challenge from New Zealand’s Steve McDowell, with Britain’s Andrew Mills in third. Then in the final race, he led from start to finish, holding off Mills, while McDowell sealed his top 10 placing with an excellent third.

2023 OK Dinghy World Championship, Lyme Regis, UK

Two fourth places from Edler repeated his runner-up place from 2022, while two fifth places from France’s Valerian Lebrun moved him up to third place.

The leaderboard changed somewhat on the final day with previous leader, Nick Craig picking up a black flag in the first race and Denmark’s Bo Petersen retiring with gear damage.

The talk all week has been about the high level of the competition with many past world champions struggling to even make the top 15. The top 10 represents perhaps the past and future of the class with four former world champions in the top 10, with Craig the highest in sixth.

The top three also sailed very different boats. Wetherell used a JJ Boats/Ceilidh/HD combination, Edler an Ovington/C-Tech/Green and Lebrun a Synergy/C-Tech/Turtle.

In the silver fleet, David Ketteridge from Australia won the group from Germany’s Rainer Pospiech and Belgium’s Steven Jamar.  The race wins today went to Britain’s Thomas Southwell and Denmark’s Søren Sigurdsson.

2023 OK Dinghy World Championship, Lyme Regis, UK

Wetherell said, “From early this week to today there was quite a big difference in my downwind speed so I managed to get away from the fleet today so that was quite nice and had to manage the fleet from there and keep hiking but it was hard. I had Andrew Mills behind me charging upwind so it was a hard day but I got through it with two wins, so all good.”

It was his first ever world championship win. “It’s feels pretty good. After five days hard racing a relatively new boat for me, it was a tough week at the start and slowly got better and better. It was just really good and enjoyable.”

Next, “It’s got to be trying to get to the worlds in Australia, but the big one for me and my friends will be in Lake Garda in 2025. I think that is going to be really big. A few of the guys I know came down to watch earlier this week and they sound like they are going to buy some Oks so that’s good, and it sounds like it will be a really good competition.”

Wetherell remains world champion for just six months. The next World Championship will be held in Brisbane, Australia in February 2024. Several containers are already being planned from Europe with another 100+ boat event expected. The class continues to grow, and this year’s championship will undoubtedly attract even more sailors in future years. Watch this space.

Final results after 9 races
1 GBR 2245 Henry Wetherell 24
2 SWE 71 Niklas Edler 29
3 FRA 11 Valerian Lebrun 36
4 DEN 12 Jens Eckardt 40
5 GBR 94 Andrew Mills 50
6 GBR 2261 Nick Craig 52
7 GBR 6 Charlie Cumbley 57
8 NZL 11 Steve McDowell 63
9 GBR 2264 Jim Hunt 69
10 AUS 1 Roger Blasse70

Raymond Dodard Trophy (U23): Hugo Burrows, GBR
Knud Olsen Trophy (Veteran): Niklas Edler, SWE
Blasse Trophy (Masters): Jim Hunt, GBR
Lindhartdsen Trophy (Grand Masters): Rainer Pospiech, GER
Women’s Trophy: Karen Robertson, GBR

Clive Roberts Memorial Salver (Best helm from host country): Henry Wetherell, GBR
Paul Elvstrøm Trophy (Lowest score when all race scores are counted): Henry Wetherell, GBR
Geest Trophy: Clive Quantrill, GBR

Final results here: http://2023.okworlds.org/results

Full gallery here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/okdia/albums/72177720309459414