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Kiel Week 2019 Day 1 - Lööf dominating OK, Hunger & Jess leading in the 505s

by Kiel Week 23 Jun 2019 02:39 PDT 22-30 June 2019
Fredrik Lööf - OK Dinghy European Championship - Kiel, Germany © Robert Deaves

Sun in Kiel, sparkling water and a light breeze from the East: The 125th anniversary edition of the Kiel Week did present itself with this summer atmosphere for the first start and did cause shining eyes of the organizers.

"We could start the classes with a slight delay", stated the Head of Organization for the Regattas Dirk Ramhorst: "First we had the fight of the two wind systems, but then the thermal winds did prevail over the gradient and became more and more stable. So we could send out the classes onto the race course in an easterly breeze. The developing conditions were super for sailing. It was a perfect day, everyone was satisfied." Looking ahead means even better conditions, since weather expert Meeno Schrader is announcing lots of sun with rising temperatures and increasing thermal breeze.

Under these conditions, four races could be sailed in the 29er skiffs, two in the OK-dinghies, that are fighting for the Europeans' title in Kiel, and three in the other nine international classes.

The OK dinghies sailed on the race course far outside and did fight with weaker thermal winds. But this could not stop the top sailors to set themselves into the scene. The Swedish sailor Fredrik Lööf, Olympic winner from 2012 in the Starboat and at the previous two OK Worlds Vice World Champion, was taking over the lead at the European Championship, followed by Jan Kurfeld. The sailor from Wismar is the title defender of the Kiel Week, is well experienced on the fjord and sailed on rank three at the Worlds last year. The current third at the Europeans is Greg Wilcox from New Zealand. He is the World Champion from 2002. Not yet in full speed was André Budzien (Schwerin). The two-time World Champion in the OK-dinghy is only 15.

In the 505, there seems to be a duel developing between the Kiel Week series winners already after the first day with three races. KiWo record winner Wolfgang Hunger (Strande) is currently in the lead chasing the 22. title with his crew Holger Jess - followed by the Danish FD Olympic winner Joergen Bojsen-Moeller and his brother Jacob.

Ocean Racers and Nord Stream Race

An enormous fleet split into small parts was presented to the spectators at the marina Duesternbrook as an "amuse-gueule" for the Kiel Week. 250 yachts in 15 starts were moving onto the offshore course between 9am and 12pm - with different objectives: While the participants of the "Aalregatta" were taking on the 28 nautical miles from Kiel to Eckernfoerde in a sort of public run, the sailors of the Welcome Race were taking on the same course with more sportive ambitions.

New in the Kiel Week program were the yachts in the Kiel Cup with ORC rating. Their way was also into the bay of Eckernfoerde, but from there returning back to Kiel. The Nord Stream Race yachts used the day as a warm-up program for their big stage race to St. Petersburg/Russia, while for the three Ocean Racers the Kiel Week start was an internal comparison of two boat classes.

The "Ember Sea" from Jens Burmeister (Rostock) was fast on the way. The Brenta 55 was in the first start group of the Welcome Race and the first yacht at the finish at 14:45. Even faster were the Ocean Racers, who started at noon. The newly baptized "Einstein" of the Offshore Team Germany (OTG), an Imoca Open 60, and the two VO65 "Akzonobel" and "Brunel" were a rare image in Kiel, but used the further course more as a boat test. "We won the start. Afterwards Chris Nicholson on the 'Akzonobel' did pass clearly. They had the advantage of the Code Zero. We even had to do without the big head sail", stated OTG Team Manager Jens Kuphal (Berlin).

For the international fleet of the Nord Stream Race, the first day of the Kiel Week was also a "warm-up". The inshore rating with three races was won by the Swedish team before the German team from the NRV Hamburg. Special guest on board was former Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder with his wife Soyeon Schroeder-Kim. Schroeder will be giving the starting signal for the stage race from Kiel to Copenhagen via Stockholm and Helsinki to St. Petersburg. "That was a good kickoff today for the Nord Stream Race. And Gerhard Schroeder had fun", said Oliver Schwall from the agency Konzeptwerft, marketer of the race.

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