Over 50 entries turned out for OK class 50th anniversary regatta at Upper Thames last weekend 26/6/07

The OK Dinghy Class continued its 50th Year celebrations with an all-comers event and anniversary dinner at Upper Thames SC over the weekend of 23-24 June, with over 50 sailors competing at some point through the weekend and many more participating from the club lawns.

The focus of the event was aimed at getting OK sailors past and present celebrating 50 years of the class both on off the water. Consequently current class stalwarts offered their boats to some of the names from the past for the Saturday’s racing schedule.

In spite of the dubious forecast, the sun did shine for most of Saturday with a moderate westerly breeze allowing for a decent beat upstream on the spectacular upper reaches of the Thames.

With 33 boats on the line for the all-comers race, there were some anxious boat owners on the shore hoping that the great and good from the past could still remember how it was done. Thankfully the fleet got away without any major incidents from a very busy club line, lead by Andy Williams who hasn’t sailed an OK for more than 10 years. Current national champion Robert Deaves overhauled Williams on the first beat and went on to win by a comfortable margin. Williams battled it out with Rob Bellfield to take second, Bellfied third and Bill Bradburn 4th.

The second race was by invitation for any sailor achieving top three at national or inland championships. A star studded fleet took to the water and again Robert Deaves lead the way from 1989 Champion John Derbyshire, with Class Chairman Mike Edwards in 3rd. Deaves again held his lead to the finish with Neil Goodhead from South Staffs working his way up to second with Terry Curtis, current inland champion, coming home third.

The day’s sailing was wrapped up with a relay race which started Le Mans style, but in the bar downing half a pint before negotiating the clubs steps – fortunately there were no major casualties!

A great day culminated with a sit down dinner for 140, including many stars of the class both past and present. Guests were entertained with speeches by class legends James-Bridge Butler, Jonty Sherwill and John Chaundy. A hugely successful raffle and auction raised over £1,000 for Sail 4 Cancer.

Terry Curtis put his local knowledge to good use winning the first race comfortably on Sunday from Tony Thresher and Robert Deaves third. The conditions were clearly to Thresher’s liking as he led the second race from start to finish. Current world champion Nick Craig had pulled through the fleet from an average start to take second with Mike Edwards third.

With Curtis, Thresher or Craig able to take the event, the pressure was on for the final race. Race officer Nigel Garland decided to open things up by setting a square course forcing the fleet out into the main current. Curtis chose the leeward end of the line and just managed to squeeze into the lead as the fleet stacked up on the favoured windward shore.

By the leeward mark Curtis had quite a substantial lead, but was forced right by a shift, the following fleet lead by Craig, Edwards and Deaves rounded the bottom of the square and were lifted left. By the windward mark they were back in contention, with Craig leading back down the run, Edwards second and Curtis now in third. Craig managed to hold his lead to the finish to win the event, taking home the Yeatman Bowl.

Overall Results