Reply To: W
It’s an interesting discussion and the changing demographics and life patterns is definitely having a big impact on sailing as a whole. I’m not sure we will ever get the OK to establish big fleets at clubs in the UK as we have soooo many other class competing for a relatively small market, but the class does have some things to shout about. With the big growth in the class in Europe (bl**dy foreigners coming over here stealing our boats! :-)) and in the antipodes it is possibly becoming the one of the few true international hiking singlehanded class for adult sailors outside of the Olympic classes. While boats like the Phantom and Solo outnumber us greatly in the UK they cannot offer that international flavour with becoming virtually a Brits on tour event. We should build on those growing fleets overseas as one reason to sail one here as it opens the door to a whole world of potential events. Personally it’s a big draw for me as I have always loved sailing with people from other countries when I can.
Additionally it is possibly the most underrated boat in the UK and a real hidden gem in my opinion. I’ve seen lots of comments on OKs along the lines of ‘I had one in the 70s and the boom was low’ and generally dismissing the class as a modern boat. although I am still new to the class I know how much boats have developed and any ’70s boat cannot be compared to a modern boat.
I suspect strongly that this is even more so with the modern carbon masts and more stable radial sails we have now. It is a gem of a boat and we should shout about that. I suspect that much of the Finn adult/masters fleet would be far happier in the OK – getting nearly the same sailing experience for a fraction of the cost and a much easier pull up the beach. The Finn’s do have the draw of the Master Worlds which is huge, but that itself can become a reason to try the OK’s booming international event. It is also possibly the most comfortable una rigged boat downwind I have ever sailed. The deep cockpit with the traveller to sit on and space for your legs under the side decks encourages you to try and sail it well and push it a bit harder compared to lots of the newer boats with shallow cockpits where you are on your knees. Again something to shout about if we accept our target market is on the more mature side nowadays
It’s clear from Robert Deave’s new book that the class has a long tradition for being social at all levels. In truth most classes are but again the OK’s deep seated commitment to this as all levels is a draw to be emphasised to it’s target sailor, who lets be honest about it is going to be middle aged and want a nice time as well as good racing. I kinda like Roberts recent phrase ‘The OK dinghy. Enjoy responsibly: with beer’ as it seem to honestly sum up an important part of the class. I might try and get some car stickers made up with that!
There was an article in Y&Y recently about this very subject and I’m sure it was the Merlin’s that said something along the lines of ‘We try to look after the back of the fleet and give them a reason to come as the front of the fleet will always look after themselves.’ I’m too new to the class to say if it’s been tried before but perhaps there is something to be done to encourage the ‘classics’ to come along and know they will be looked after and will have their own prizes to race for. I know we give a prize for first metal masted boat at the Nationals but perhaps there’s something to be done at the travellers as well. On the travellers themselves, I’m too far north to really worry about where they are (it’s a long way to almost everywhere) but agree more sea sailing would be good. Interestingly the Solos in Scotland generally do one day events to make it easier on people with families who find it far easier getting away for one long day than getting away for a whole weekend. Again perhaps there’s something to be done there with a ‘one day’ series using the first day of the two day events. It may be a way of encouraging more to make that step to doing their first open in the OK and one day staying to enjoy the craic.
Of course I know I’m still new to the class so if some of this stuff has been tried already I apologise for covering well tread ground – I am unfortunately pretty evangelical about the boat and the class so do excuse me!