The OK Dinghy

If I had a good shop, I’d be building one now:

OK Dinghy3

OK Dinghy3 -- All photos, sailplan courtesy

The OK Dinghy has always appealed to me.  In fact, I have had building plans somewhere here on my desk for several years.  As soon as I sell off one of my fleet, I truly will build one….

One of these, one of Eric McNicholl’s Nanos… I’ll be all set in the single-handed sailing dinghy department.  Well, also — of course — a PDR, a Firebug, anything from John Welsford, countless others…  but I digress.

OK Dinghy Sailplan

OK Dinghy Sailplan

Let me give you the OK’s history (from

In 1957 Axel Dangaard Olsen of Seattle, U.S.A., asked the Danish yacht designer Knud Olsen to prepare drawings for a light and fast single-handed sailing dinghy based on conventional plywood construction.  The resulting design was named the O.K., using Knud Olsen’s initials in reverse (I guess KO would have sent the wrong message).

The O.K. was intended as a preparation class for the Olympic Finn and it has followed its technical evolution ever since. versa.

OKs are built in plywood, G.R.P and composite construction and all forms enjoy equal racing success. Freedom of choice in hull construction is replicated in choice of rig, with choice of mast, sail and fitting entirely open.  Consequently, every OK develops to suit the owner’s style of sailing, while the shape of the hull is designed by a comprehensive set of rules ensuring a long competitive life span.

Old boats often only need a rig up-date and minor constructional modifications to make them competitive, provided they meet modern buoyancy requirements.

In the 60s and 70s, the OK class enjoyed a explosive success, with the total number of boats exceeding 10.000 and large racing fleets building up.  In the 80s, the success of the popular one-design single-handed Laser affected the success of OK.

In the eastern countries, the OK was the official youth single hander and after the breakdown of the socialist system, many ‘old’ sailors came back to the class of their youth, now with their own boats instead of club-owned.

Today, we are seeing a remarkable revival of the OK class. Lots of older boats are being restored and updated, new boats are being build and participation in club races is on the rise.
The OK was elected as single hander for the Asian Games 1998.

This strong come-back can be contributed to the unique characteristics of the International OK-Dinghy:  a light, responsive sailing dinghy that may be raced in fair and equal competition all over the world, without getting into cut-throat Olympic competition, and with the freedom to appeal to the individual that is in each of us. Since 2003 carbon masts are introduced to the class.

Based on a strong history, the International OK class is facing a bright future.”

more OK

more OK

Here is a boat that just defines “fun.”

another OK

another OK

Her technical specs:

  • a single handed dinghy
  • 4 m long
  • 1.5 m wide
  • 72 kg hull weight
  • hard chine construction
  • built of wood, grp or ‘composite’
  • home built or professionally built
  • sailed by men or women between 60 – 95 kg (or less or more!)
  • a mast of carbon fibre – though this may be of wood or aluminium
  • foils of wood, which may be sheathed with grp (metal centreboard is permitted)
  • a sail of 8.5 square m
  • comfortable side decks and ‘sitting out’ position
  • rig, sail and controls chosen to suit the owner’s physique and personal preferences
  • controls which effectively control sail shape
  • full and reliable buoyancy arrangements

For more information, please see their website:

Plans are available for a very affordable 15 British pounds.  Please do better than I, and start building yours right away.

Please comment below.  We’re seeing a definite resurgence of interest in the US.

This entry was posted in My Wooden Boat of June 2010 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The OK Dinghy

  1. Tweezerman says:


    Sigh! One of these days you’ll get around to featuring the Classic Moth, a class already established on the East Coast, a class where a wooden plywood hull has won the past ten or so past National Championships, where you can design and build a boat that fits you and your sailing style like a glove, a class where the hull weight is 1/2 of of the OK dinghy and almost 1/2 of a Laser.


  2. ricktidd says:

    This blog entry suggests that a fleet is developing in the US. From the website, it appears that all of the interest in this design is on the west coast. I would definitely be interested in building this boat if there were opportunities to race on the east coast (especially New England). Do you have any information on racing fleets on the east coast of the US?


  3. Carl Cramer says:

    I do love the older Moths, Tweezer, and will certainly cover them in the future.

    I’m intrigued by the foil developments, but to the point that I only care on a vicarious level. For me, the classic Moth is an ideal development class. Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll try to cover her in sufficient detail?

    Moth on. For me, my next boat is an OK dinghy. But once I sell the Big Boat, my stable will have room to expand. And I hope to be able to pass on recent info about the WOOD Regatta 2011 soon. A perfect place for classic Moths…

  4. Dave Roberts says:

    I just recently restored my father’s OK Dinghy. What a fun boat. I’m not aware of any others in the Detroit area.


  5. Brad Johanson says:

    There is indeed interest on the East Coast, I am the US OK Dinghy class president and I am from Maine, can’t get more East Coast or New England than that. We have a group of people like Dave above restoring older boats and a group getting ready to build new boats. I fall into both categories. Most were exposed to OKs years ago. I have been working in Germany this spring and soaking up as much of the current technology and state of the art as possible while OK racing in Belgium, Germany and Holland. I have been posting back everything I discover to our band of enthusiasts. The rest of the world is very excited about all this new US interest in the OK. We are working closely with the Canadian Association which is in the same boat. Old restorers, new interest, east coast and west voast. Feel free to contact me at USOKDINGHYASSOCIATION@GMAIL.COM

  6. Brad Johanson says:

    dave roberts,
    Great to hear youu are enjoying the fruits of your restoration. These boats are so much fun to sail.
    While I don’t know of any other OKs in Michagain (yet), we do have some in Ohio and across the border in Toronto. We hope to have a regatta in Toronto late summer of fall, interested? I would love to hear about your boat and put you intouch with your neighborhood OKers. The picture is me sailing in the Belgian nationals last fall.


  7. Brad Johanson says:

    Lets try to upload the picture again.


  8. Carl Cramer says:

    Hi, Brad. Please rename the photo so it doesn’t have any underscores, etc. It should work.

  9. Carl Cramer says:

    Dave — Please reduce your photo to about 300 pixels in width and try again?

  10. Brad Johanson says:

    Canadian participation at the Belgian Nationals with boaqts from Belgium, France, Luxemburg and Germany


  11. brad,
    i’m excited that things are evolving more an more! keep up with the promotional work and spread the word about the most okay class in the world 😉
    for those interested: pictures of the renewing of an OK build 1972 in east germany (GDR):

  12. It’s great to see continued interest in OK Dinghies and also the original concept of home-built wooden boats. You may be interested in a number of projects that have created new, modern ply OKs in Australia. There are contact details on the web site for any of you interested in more information.

    Two articles cover the progress of one of our boats in Lake Macquarie, NSW:

  13. Brad Johanson says:

    This shot is one of the new Australian OKs. It is a fun class where half the fun is sailing these cool boats and half the fun is just messing around with the boats. These is an intense sub-culture of self builders scattered around the world.


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