Reply To: W
I’m the OK class captain at Upper Thames Club (I didn’t duck quick enough when the club looked for someone to take on the role). Yes, I was sailing OKs back in the 60s/70s when at least a hundred new boats appeared each year, we had open meeting fleets of 30+ and over 100 boats at the Nationals. But I agree that we are in a totally different environment now.
At UTSC we currently have 11 OKs registered plus 3 club boats that any member can use. We have lost one or two OKs each year, mostly older sailors who have moved away or given up sailing all together rather than moving to another class. I would agree that not everyone likes sailing on a river, although it can be very exciting when we have a decent westerly…
On open meetings we’ve canned our separate one-day event in October (turnout was typically only 8-10, the majority being UTSC sailors), and because we wanted to avoid entrants having to take holidays from work, modified the previously 4-day Bourne End Week to give a 3-day, 6-race OK River Championships over the Whit weekend (entrants can also stay for the 4th day, Whit Tuesday, and complete the BEW regatta). This enables us to offer both cheap on-site camping and good social activities that are shared with all the other BEW classes – and visitors get to see the magnificent Thames A Raters in action….
UTSC can claim to have had the OK World Junior champion (Ed in 2016) and believe that our future for the OKs at UTSC is dependent on us growing interest in the OK amongst our younger sailors. We are looking to make our club boats more attractive and faster (although they are already winning club races), and are going to try adding a session at the end of our general training courses on how to sail an OK (and giving youngsters tutoring on sailing our club boats). The problems will be firstly to find any interested youngsters reasonably priced competitive boats, and secondly to try to retain those sailors once they disappear off to university.