Huge fleet primed for one of the biggest OK Dinghy World Championships of all time

In the coming week, many of the world’s best dinghy sailors will be taking part in the Ovington Boats and PRO-SET-Resins OK Dinghy World Championship, in Lyme Regis, Dorset, in Britain. It will be the biggest OK Dinghy world championship ever in the UK, and one of the biggest of all time. Currently there are 144 entries from 13 countries, highlighting the current growth and enthusiasm for sailing this fantastic singlehander. The previous record was set in 2012 in Vallensbæk, Denmark, with 145 entries.

The field is as wide as it is deep with arguably the strongest fleet to ever contest the title. With more than 20 sailors potentially capable of winning races, seven former world champions, accounting for 14 titles over the past 21 years, the current world and European champions, and more national championship titles than is possible to count, this is also going to be the hardest championship to predict. It is going to be epic.

Such a huge fleet follows on from several years of growth in the class, largely led by a 10-year strategic plan, attractive events, and venues along with a range of boatbuilders producing quality and eye-catching boats. Over 100 boats at the world championship is now becoming normal for the class, which used to struggle to attract 70-80 boats. In addition, many top British dinghy sailors have joined the class, attracted by the high level of competition and the great social atmosphere for which the class is famous – or infamous.

After being delayed from 2022 due to the pandemic, this event has been long awaited, especially by the British fleet which numbers over 70 entries. These include all former British world champions. Until 2004, the UK had never won the OK Dinghy worlds, but then Jim Hunt won in Parkstone, before Nick Craig started his winning streak of five titles to become the most successful OK Dinghy sailor of all time. Hunt won again in 2016, while the reigning and defending world champion is Charlie Cumbley. He will have his work cut out to defend the title next week.

Cumbley commented, “I can’t wait for the 2023 Worlds to kick off. This will be one of the truly great championships to be part of, with 150 boats from around the world including all the fastest of the fast OK sailors. So, many sailors from other classes have seen the surge in the OK and wanted to get onboard. It is going to be the fifth OK worlds I have done and will undoubtedly be the toughest, but I know Lyme Regis will put on a great show.”

Lyme Regis Sailing Club, in Dorset is hosting the championship with help from the British class association and a huge number of sponsors. It has been a mammoth effort from a lot of people to bring the event together and the British team have been training hard at the venue, The recent period of very light winds seems to have lifted with days filled with sunshine and 8-12 knots for those putting in some last minuted training. The forecast for the event looks good with a sailable wind through the week.

Some of the other favourites include new British National champion Andy Davis, Current European champion Bo Petersen, from Denmark, former European champion Lars Johan Brodtkorb, from Norway, Valerian Lebrun, from France, three-time world champion André Budzien from Germany, last year’s close runner up Niklas Edler from Sweden, former world champions Thomas Hansson-Mild from Sweden and Roger Blasse from Australia and New Zealand National Champion Steve McDowell. And then there are the ex-British Sailing Team Finn sailors. Henry Wetherell won the British championship in 2021, and is joined by Andrew Mills and Matt Howard. The list of talent in this fleet is never-ending.

Five-time world champion Nick Craig, from Britain, had this to say, “For me, sailing is at its best with big, quality fleets and vibrant, friendly socials. This is why I am into my fourth decade of OK sailing. The mighty OK is such a good boat, with a well-run class with a fun group of people. It is great to see so many sailors visiting Lyme Regis for the Worlds and the British fleet growing at a phenomenal rate. These worlds could be the best yet.”

The huge fleet has been split into four colour groups, racing each other in turn during a six-race opening series before they are split into gold and silver groups for the final series of four races.

Equipment inspection and registration begins on Friday 23 June with a 10-race series scheduled from Monday 26 June to Friday 30 June.