Amidst all the hullabaloo about the Olympics, lost in the jingoism noise of Olympic sailing supremacy, was the remarkable 50th anniversary regatta of the OK Dinghy Worlds, the OK being the equivalent of the Laser singlehander before the real Laser showed up in the early 1970's. The OK's are still doing very well worldwide, thank you very much, (doing well except in North America where the Laser eradicated any popular singlehanders that preceded it - except for the Sunfish). The OK has been called the mini-Finn but it was really much more than that, the chine hull was designed for easy home building and at 150 lbs. hull weight the OK Dinghy was a much more lively experience than the stolid Finn dinghy (particularly in the 1960's, this was a very light weight for a singlehander).
In the late 1960's, the hotbed of North American OK Dinghy racing was on the West Coast. It was the young, hot-shot class with names such as Rick Grajirena, Steve Toschi, Dave Klipfel from San Francisco and Craig Thomas, Carl Buchan from Seattle. I spent an enjoyable hour or two with the West Coast OK bunch, apres-sailing, at the 1969 CORK regatta in Kingston. A very hippie-ish affair, as was always the case when you ran into the West Coast sailors during the 1960's.
The OK never caught on in the East Coast. I got to sail one once in light air, nice sailing experience, but I must admit that I followed the crowd and joined the BORG back then and spent several fun years flogging Laser #249 around race courses.
The OK dinghy was designed in Scandinavia and for the 50th Anniversary Worlds they returned to Vallensbæk, Denmark, over 145 strong. It turned into a light air regatta and geezer skippers abounded (New Zealand pre-geezer Greg Wilcox took second). It does seem that when you add a traveler and a slightly more tune-able rig, the older set can certainly crack the front every so often.
Here is an interesting time-lapse video of the 145 or so OK's returning home to their dolly's and good Scandinavian beer at the 2012 Worlds. The smallish club seemed to handle the returning hordes with aplomb. Long live the OK Dinghy!
The Balsa Fleet
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