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Kieler Woche - High-level action on the horizon

by Hermann Hell on 19 Jun 2013
Philipp Buhl in action during the 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre © Jesus Renedo / Sofia Mapfre http://www.sailingstock.com
The 2013 Kieler Woche is set to take place from 22 to 30 June, with about 4,500 sailors from 50 nations crowding the waters of Kiel Fjord. Medals will be fought for in eight Olympic sailing disciplines, among them the two new Olympic classes 49erFX for women and Nacra 17 for mixed crews, the paralympic 2.4Metre, all in all 17 international classes including the swift Musto skiffs and the B/one one-design class of Germany’s biggest boat-yard Bavaria, as well as the 18 offshore classes (ORC/ORC Club/one-design and multihulls).

The 131st Kieler Woche will feature an outstanding challenge in the Olympic Laser class. In the single-handed dinghy, 2012 Kieler Woche winner Philipp Buhl will be racing against Brazilian Robert Scheidt, the exceptional sailor from the Olympic host-country 2016. With five Olympic medals under his belt, Scheidt will definitely pursue the goal of adding another one to his impressive collection when he will be racing on home waters in the 2016 Games.

Scheidt has won innumerable world championship titles and the full range of Olympic medals: Gold in 1996 (Savannah, USA) in the Laser and 2004 (Athens, Greece) in the Star, silver in 2000 (Sydney, Australia) in the Laser and 2008 (Qingdao, China) in the Star, then bronze in the Star in 2012 (Weymouth, U.K.) With the Star having lost its Olympic status since, the exceptional 40-year old athlete will be racing in the Laser again in Kiel, and he will use the strong competition on the Fjord to fuel himself on his route to success on South American home waters in 2016.

Among all German sailors at the starting line, only Philipp Buhl (Sonthofen) is deemed capable of stopping the Brazilian. The 23-year old current European champion is brimming over with self-confidence, and winning last year‘s Kieler Woche ahead of German Olympic sailor Simon Grotelueschen has given him a good boost for the challenge lying ahead this year.

'My immediate target is to successfully defend the Kieler Woche title, and from there I will carry on my training to strive for a world championship medal,' said Buhl in Kiel. But winning in Kiel will mean beating Robert Scheidt, as he will be the one to beat. But where else should Buhl beat Scheidt if not in Kiel? 'Kiel has always been special to me. It‘s my home waters, and the way sailing is presented here is unique worldwide,' enthused Buhl about Kieler Woche. There is only one aspect he dislikes – the new scoring system.

By also racing in the FD during the second part of Kieler Woche, Buhl underlines his high esteem for the event. The Bavarian sailor raced in the Match Race Germany and in the Youth America’s Cup off San Francisco (USA), where he was skipper of the German team. By the way: When the two opponents first met off Hyères (France), Scheidt came second, Buhl 17th.

But the focus of Kieler Woche is not only on the Laser. Many renowned sailors promise highlights in the new Olympic classes 49erFX and Nacra 17, the meeting of the giants in the 505, who will be holding their world championships in 2014 off Kiel, with world champions Lehmann/Oehme, European champions Schomaeker/Jess and Kieler Woche winner in a row, Wolfgang Hunger, with crew Julien Kleiner as well as the Esimit, the biggest yacht ever to take part in a Kieler Woche race.


The new Olympic multihull class Nacra 17 seems to have a magnetic attraction for switchers. Beside the newly-formed Italian/German team Pietro Sibello/Lisa Rattemeyer, Iker Martinez (Spain), Justus Wolf (Germany) and Nikola Girke (Canada) are well-known sailors who will race in this multihull class.

Only five weeks ago, Lisa Rattemeyer had announced at the Kieler Woche press conference in Hamburg that she was still looking for the right man to join her Olympic campaign. In no time at all, she had collected 5,000 clicks on Youtube, and so she soon found her partner - Pietro Sibello from Italy.

At Kieler Woche, Lisa Rattemeyer will fly Italian colours when she races with 34-year old Sibello, Kieler Woche winner 2004 and 2006 in the 49er, two-time Olympic bronze medallist with his brother, and fourth in the Games off Qingdao. Sibello will take the helm with Lisa Rattemeyer as his crew. In order to pursue a joint Olympic campaign, however, Pietro would have to change his nationality – an option within reach, as his mother is German, and he has a German passport. But as Sibello has been racing for Italy in the past, the German Sailing Association will certainly have to go through a bit of red tape.

Lisa and Pietro have been 'set up' by their national coaches. 'We have exactly the same goals and get along really well,' explained Lisa Rattemeyer. One of the things she had asked for from her future sailing partner in her Youtube video was a good sense of humour. 'And that’s one thing Pietro certainly has! It’s professional and effective work, and we have lots of fun together,' says Rattemeyer, who is happy with the good teamwork. As Sibello is committed to his Italian employer, the two will sail for Italy in Kiel.

Depending on their financial situation, this may change in favour to Germany – a question which needs to be answered until the worlds (20 to 27 July in the Netherlands), said Rattemeyer. She has meanwhile started learning Italian, so she can communicate well with her partner in both languages.

The Nacra fleet in Kiel will be very strong, so Kieler Woche should give useful hints as to the athletes’ potential. Three-time world champion Martinez is one of the high-class switchers. The Spanish athlete won Gold at the Olympics in Greece in 2004 with crew Xabier Fernandez in the 49er and Silver in 2008. Now the 36-year old Basque will race in the mixed catamaran.

Justus Wolf will take part with Rea Kühl. 1988, Wolf and his crew Michael Starken had won the Tornado European championship and kept duelling with with Roland Gaebler/Frank Parlow. While Gaebler and his wife Nahid have now decided to stick to the Tornado and keep collecting mixed and overall world titles, Wolf has set out to challenge the up-and-coming Nacra talents.

Nikola Girke from Canada is another switcher. The 35-year old has taken part in three Olympic Games for Canada, and came tenth on the surfboard off Weymouth – five ranks behind Moana Delle. In 2008, she had finished 17th on the upRS:X board, and four years before that, she raced to rank 13 in the 470 in Athens, Greece. The four-time Canadian champion in the 470 and nine-time Canadian champion on the surfboard is now targeting an Olympic campaign in her third sailing discipline, the Nacra 17, with Luke Ramsay.

The international part of Kieler Woche will see many talented youth sailors flocking to Kiel. Fleet sizes of just under 170 in the 420 and about 100 in the 29er classes, are stretching the limits of any race course. 'It’s great to have so many entries, but we must make sure that races are realistic and fair,' said race director Peter Ramcke.


Special attention will be given to the 505 class, which in 2014 will hold their world championship on the Kieler Woche race area. One sailor in particular dominates the fleet: Dr. Wolfgang Hunger. By winning his 20th Kieler Woche title last year, the physician from nearby Strande made history, and every win he adds makes this record more unattainable. So the 52-year old, who raced in the German Olympic team in 1988 and 1992 in the 470, very much focuses on Kiel. For the last six years, nobody was able to stop Hunger in Kiel. He won five times with Julien Kleiner as crew, and before that, (2007) with Holger Jess from Wittensee, who has since been crew to Maike Schomaeker, the fastest female 505 sailor. Schomaeker/Jess are the current European title holders, and nothing pleases the two better than beating Wolfgang Hunger - wind conditions providing.

The fresh world champions Claas Lehmann/Leon Oehme could also turn spoil-sports for Hunger. Their victory off Barbados gave the two athletes from Hamburg and Kiel lots of self-confidence, and they are looking forward to the up-coming challenge. 'I’m glad that my new employer in Kiel has given me a week’s leave for Kieler Woche,' said Oehme. Helmsman Lehmann already has a Kieler Woche victory (2005) on his tally, so the German teams are the fiercest competition. However, 16-time Kieler Woche winners from Denmark, Joergen and Jacob Bojsen-Möller, are good for a surprise, too, and the Danish-German team Jan Saugmann/Martin Goerge, 2012 world champions, are also part of world-class 505er fleet of this year’s Kieler Woche.

The biggest yacht that has ever taken part in a Kieler Woche race will not only draw the attention of the sailing world: The 100-foot yacht Esimit Europa 2 will for the first time race on Baltic waters and literally tower over the rest of the fleet. With a mast height of 44 metres, even Germany’s national training ship Gorch Fock will only top her by one metre, and Esimit’s maximum sail area of 820 square metres is enough to cover two basketball courts. Her impressive dimensions indicate that the 100-foot (30.5-metre) Maxi is one of the world’s fastest mono-hull boats.

This missile, a European project, will be helmed by Germany’s sailing legend Jochen Schuemann through the swarm of yachts in the pre-starting phase of the Kieler Woche Welcome Race from the Inner Kiel Fjord to Eckernfoerde. It will be a demanding task that will require the race management team to exert a lot of caution. 'She is by far the biggest yacht racing at Kieler Woche, and her 5.2-metre draught alone makes the boat difficult to manoeuvre in the narrow Inner Fjord', said offshore boss Eckhard von der Mosel.

The Kiel Cup (Monday to Wednesday), the Kaiserpokal for the winner of the winners on Wednesday, the Silver Ribbon long-distance race and the Senate Prize are further highlights of Kieler Woche offshore racing. For the first time this year, Kieler Woche will stage the German trials for the Royal Ocean Cup (ROC) with 13 crews fighting for the representing their country at the ROC off Bornholm.

On top of all this, the Classic Regatta at the start of the event, the cutter races on the Fjord and the Windjammer Parade on the second Saturday, Kiel will once again feature the full range of sailing at its purest.

It is an urgent concern of the organizers that the sailors’ needs should be in the focus of the event. The new catering system underlines just that, the athletes appreciate it, and there is much demand for the five-Euro meal of the day served in the Sailors’ Lounge with up to 200 orders per day registered already.

The pagoda tents with BBQ facilities which were offered for class associations’ meetings are booked out throughout the nine-day event. 'We seem to have grasped the athletes‘ needs and are happy to be able to make sought-after offers,' said Nikolaus Rickers, president of the Kieler Woche Kieler Woche website

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