The 2014 OK Dinghy European Championship was officially opened in Steinhude, Germany, Monday evening after 117 entries had been received. Racing is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
The championship is being held at two clubs, Segler-Verein Großenheidorn and Yachtclub Steinhuder Meer, standing side by side in an idyllic location overlooking the Steinhuder Meer. There are OK Dinghies everywhere, with sailors making final preparations for the start of racing. The weather has been unusually hot, with Monday's 28 degrees a welcome relief from the 37 degrees recorded at the weekend. However both Sunday and Monday suffered through lack of wind, though a sailable wind is forecast for most of the coming week.
As the sun set behind the Steinhuder Meer, the opening ceremony, took place right beside the lake with more than 250 sailors, families, officials and volunteers present. The welcome received by the sailors so far has been phenomenal, with the clubs, the sponsors and the local dignitaries genuinely pleased that so many OK Dinghy sailors from so many countries had travelled to this championship.
There was a great feeling of welcome, camaraderie and friendship throughout the opening ceremony. The vast number of sponsors, both local companies and OK Dinghy suppliers, were thanked and in particular Ralf Tietje (GER) was thanked for his outstanding work in bringing it all together and he received a standing ovation.
The sailors were welcomed by both clubs and each nation was fanfared to the applause of the other competitors. Finally, Dr. Burmeister of Lotto SportStiftung, the event's major sponsor, declared the championship open, and the sailors and guests tucked into a massive pasta buffet before relocating to the lawn to enjoy the cold beer and the sunset.
The prizegiving also took place for the pre-Europeans-regatta, which was sailed over the weekend. Jørgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) won from Bo Reker Andersen (DEN) and Martin von Zimmerman (GER) after only three races were possible. Three races were sailed on Saturday in 10-12 knots and an incredible 37 degrees. On Sunday racing was cancelled as there was no wind, but it allowed the organisers to start measurement earlier than scheduled. All boats received a thorough check under the watchful eyes of the class Chief Measurer, Dick Batt (GBR).
On Saturday the class held a Measurement Symposium which attracted 10 builders, measurers and others from five nations to discuss current Rules and measurement matters. As well as updating those present on current trends, recent rulings and the latest rule changes, the meeting was encouraged by the recent growth in the class and the number of new manufacturers, which highlighted the need for continued good practice by both builders and measurers. The symposium also looked at ways to develop better communication between these stakeholders worldwide to enable increased transparency and rules compliance.
Ten races are scheduled for the European Championship from Tuesday 22 July to Saturday 26 July. On the first day, the fleets will be split into two starts based on the latest OK Dinghy World Ranking list, and adjusted each day thereafter based on the overall positions at the end of the previous day. On the fourth and fifth days, the fleet will be split into gold and silver fleets. The warning signal for racing is scheduled for 12.00 each day.
– Robert Deaves