The OK Dinghy European title is heading back to the class homeland after Jørgen Svendsen of Denmark took the championship following six races on Steinhuder Meer in Germany in a huge fleet of 110 boats last week.
Denmark’s Bo Petersen was the defending champion, but he could only finish third behind the host country’s Andre Budzien, and Svendsen. It is perhaps no coincidence that Denmark is the fastest growing national fleet in the class with a spectacular resurgence of interest in the past five years. This has been spurred recently with the introduction of a new state of the art hull builder in Denmark which filled four places in the top 10 including second and third.
A former world no 1 Jorgen Svendsen took the Championship with a three point margin over some of the best OK Dinghy sailors in the world. He out-sailed the 109 other sailors in the largest ever European championship in the class and only ever slipped up once while winning four out of the six races sailed. In one of those he was beaten by was his own son Frederik, sailing at his first ever major OK Dinghy event.
Despite the fleet being unable to sail the final two days due to light winds, the six that were completed tested all aspects of the skill, character and perseverance of the sailors. The shifts were many and often immense, and the pressure differences over the lake were taxing. The first two days challenged the brain with multiple combinations of shift patterns littered across the course area like confetti. The third day tested endurance with winds of up to 26 knots and no less shifty. It was a complete championship in more ways than one.
In his acceptance speech Svendsen paid tribute to the other competitors. Citing many examples of good sportsmanship, hilarity, and intense competition during the week, he commended the fleet on a well fought and gentlemanly compeition. Even though he never raced against the defending champion Petersen, as the racing was in split fleets, Svendsen had mastered the conditions better than any other sailor and was a deserving winner.
But in an event of this nature, all the sailors were winners. It was an event unlike any other with all the stops pulls and all sailors receiving more than one prize. It was organised with an ambition to set a standard that couldn’t be beaten and that goal was achieved in spectacular style. The attention to detail in everything was bordering on the obsessive, the surprises were never ending, the friendly banter and camaraderie among the sailors provided an electric atmosphere of fun, joviality and shared enthusiasm for a great class. The racing, as ever, was great fun and the sailors loved every second of it. Results here. Photo by Ania Pawlaczyk.
– Robert Deaves.