Charlie Cumbley leads British clean sweep at OK Dinghy European Championship on Lake Garda

Charlie Cumbley, from Britain has won the 2023 OK Dinghy European Championship on Lake Garda, hosted by Circolo Vela Arco. He led a British clean sweep with Nick Craig in second and Matt Howard in third. He becomes only the third British European champion in the class after Craig won it as a Euro Cup in 2002 and Alastair McMichael won in 1982.

The fourth and final day brought the lightest winds of the week with some new faces pushing the front. The forecast again promised rain and thunderstorms but these bever materialised, though a lot of low cloud did limit the Ora during the day.

Cumbley led the first race all the way to win from Poland’s Michal Strumnik and Britain’s Andy Davis. The final race was then led all the way by Denmark’s Bo Petersen, from Germany’s Andre Budzien and Denmark’s Jens Eckhardt.

With Craig in eighth in the first race, Cumbley had the overall lead and the two battled round the course in the final race, crossing the line in a pack of boats. Though Craig tried to push him back, but Cumbley had done enough to take the title by two points and add the European title to the world title he won in 2022.

2023 OK Dinghy European Championship, Circolo Vela Arco

Cumbley said, “A lot lighter Ora today and all to play for with the points really close, Nick was leading with four points and then there was a group of boats all piled up behind us so we had to wait to see how the first race went to see what would happen in the second race.

“And I got away with a great start in the first race and led all the way round which then put the pressure on Nick and just meant I couldn’t lose second.

“So, the pressure was off in a way but it meant I just had to keep tabs on Nick, which is easier said than done. He’s quite slippery. So, we had a bit of shadowing up the first beat and then he got past me down the run. And then it was a case of he was trying to get as many boats between us and I was trying to lure him out to the other side of the race track, which I thought would drop him outside the top five.

“So in the end I am over the moon to win here in Garda after coming second a coup le of times, and just before the worlds here in 2025.”

As the event closed, thoughts turned to 2025, when the World Championship will also be hosted by Circolo Vela Arco, with perhaps 200 boats expected.

Craig commented on the venue. “I think this in one of the best places to sail in the world, and then the shoreside is amazing as well, the restaurants, the bars, it’s a fantastic holiday as well. We wouldn’t be surprised if we get 200+ boats for the worlds in 2025.”

All in all, the championship was a fantastic event, with free beer, after race pasta, awesome sailing, great hospitality from Circolo Vela Arco, and some of the slickest race management on the planet. 200 boats in 2025 is no idle boast. The class is growing at an unprecedented rate and its event management is constantly evolving to cope with demand.

In 2024 the world championship take place in Brisbane in February, with the European Championship in Palma in October. And in two days the fleet gathers in Bandol, France, for the Autumn Trophy.

Final results
1 GBR 6 Charlie Cumbley 29
2 GBR 2261 Nick Craig 31
3 GBR 2279 Matthew Howard 43
4 DEN 12 Jens Eckardt 44
5 GER 18 Jan Kurfeld 46
6 ESP 111 Tim Goodbody 46
7 GER 71 André Budzien 52
8 DEN 21 Bo Petersen 56
9 GBR 11 Andy Davis 71
10 SWE 73 Patric Mure 7

Veteran: Charlie Cumbley GBR
Master: Jens Eckardt, DEN
Grand Master: Jørgen Holm DEN
First Lady: Jessica Finke

Results here:

Gallery here:

2023 OK Dinghy European Championship, Circolo Vela Arco