2014 ORC World Championship - At 10:55 tomorrow morning, Monday four August, the first Warning signals will sound for the first race on three separate course areas here in Kiel for the start of the 2014 edition of the ORC World Championship. This offshore World Championship sanctioned by ISAF features a record-setting turnout of 151 boats from 19 countries, and has attracted some of the world's best sailors from the Olympics, America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, and other high-level events.
Pre-start practice action on Bas de Voogd's Coin Coin
Multiple World Champion Markus Wieser, for example, is sailing this week on Harm Muller-Spreer's new Carkeek 47 Platoon, one of the favorites among the 27 boats racing in Class A. The crew list on this team reads like a big-boat sailing list of all-stars, with numerous alumnists from numerous America's Cups and Volvo Ocean Races. However, Platoon was not on the starting line today for some light air practice racing due to an incident that occurred in the blustery 20+ knots and choppy seas on the Kieler Bucht yesterday.
'The strop on our headstay broke,' explained Weiser, 'but no one was hurt and we managed to keep the rig up. So today we replaced our composite headstay with one made of rod that we brought in from Denmark, and we are ready to go for tomorrow.'
Team Nika lead the fleet on a blustery downwind
Weiser and his team missed the opportunity to tune up against the 2011 and 2012 Class A ORC World Champion, Alberto Rossi and his team from Italy on his TP 52 Enfant Terrible, who have been here in Kiel training for the past week. Not only is Rossi is coming off a victory in the Farr 40 West Coast Championship in Santa Barbara two weeks ago, but, like Platoon, Rossi has loaded his boat with a talented crew of veterans from numerous America's Cups, all led by 3-time Melges 24 World Champion Lorenzo Bressani.
Among the 58 teams competing in Class B, among the favorites is a team who has not entered an ORC World Championship before, but a month ago proved themselves by winning the International German ORC Championship held here during Kieler Week. Christopher Opielok has raced at the Admiral's Cup, so he knows what it takes to compete at a high level, and the team on his Corby 38 Rockall IV have been working hard to improve even more since last month to take a championship title. While Rockall is campaigning in Germany this year, Opielok is racing under the Hong Kong flag for his adopted home.
Two other favorites in Class B are well-traveled teams from the Czech Republic and from Finland, as both were racing in the Med only weeks earlier at the ORC European Championship. Milan Hajek's Beneteau 40.7 Three Sisters finished fifth in Class B at the event Valencia, but in April won Class 1 in Majorca at Palma Vela. Jani Lehti's new Next 37 Audi Quattro from Helsinki also missed the podium in Class B in Valencia, but the team has upgraded to larger symmetric spinnakers for this event and may be poised to take advantage of conditions which are looking light for the week.
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In Class C there are 66 teams and numerous local, regional and continental champions who will fight hard for a World Champion crown. Coming off a hard-earned victory in Valencia, and a few weeks prior to that at the ORC Mediterranean Championship in San Vito Lo Capo, Giuseppe Giuffre's M37 Low Noise from Italy has momentum to do well in this class, but he will face last year's Class C champion who is closer to home: Mikhel Kosk's NM 38 Sugar 2 from Estonia.
But even closer to home is Jurgen Klinghardt's German X-332 Sport patent 3, who won their ORC World Championship title in nearby Flensburg in 2010, and Salconia, Max Gurgel's Salona 37 RK, who is the reigning ORC German Champion in his class.
Both Class B and Class C will be split into two groups and race from tomorrow through Thursday for the top 30 positions to determine who will be in the Gold Fleet to race for the World Championship titles in these classes for the final two days of racing. So, the fleet will change each day as results determine the class splits for the following day.
Wind conditions tomorrow are expected to be a light northwesterlies, but Principal Race Officer Stefan Kunstmann hopes for two races to get the week started. Kunstmann will be managing the Class B course, while Eckart Reinke will be running Class A and Fabian Bach will manage Class C.
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'This is a very impressive fleet for our 16th World Championship,' said Dr. Wolfgang Schaefer, Chairman of the German Offshore Sailing Committee and Vice-President of ORC. 'The format of racing, the number of boats, and the level of talent will test everyone's skills, so the winners will have truly demonstrated themselves as champions.'
For more information about the 2014 ORC World Championship, visit the event website.