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Kieler Woche 2020 - Day 5: 49erFX World Champions into an early lead

by Hermann Hell 10 Sep 13:32 PDT 5-13 September 2020
World Champions from Spain, Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barcelo lead the way by two points on day 5 of Kieler Woche 2020 © Sascha Klahn / Kieler Woche

The Olympic part of the Kieler Woche started with a day for the specialists in light winds and testing tactics. With the sun shining brightly on the sailors, three races were held in the shifting winds on the courses of the Kieler outer fjord for the 49er, 49erFX, Nacra17 and Finn fleets. In the Laser Radial and Laser Standard, the day ended after two races.


Day one of the final Olympic elimination round for the two German skiff teams saw Tina Lutz/Susann Beucke come out ahead of their rivals Victoria Jurczok/Anika Lorenz. Lutz/Beucke went into this third elimination regatta with a points advantage over their selection rivals and started the competition with a fourth place, benefiting in the second race from a big right-hand wind shift, to again achieve another fourth. They continued this pattern in the next race and after three fourth places they now sit in sixth place overall.

Jurczok/Lorenz started the day a bit slowly, but improved from race to race, and are now in ninth place with results 8, 7, 3. Despite a slip-up in one of their races, the World Champion teams of recent years are still in the lead. The 2020 World Champions from Spain, Tamara Echegoyen/Paula Barcelo lead the way by two points from the double World Champions (2018, & 2019) Annemiek Bekkering/Annette Duetz (Netherlands).


The Kieler Woche 2020 offers a colourful field of starters in the men's 49er skiff fleet: Young talents meet the comeback kings, alongside the usual Olympic aspirants. Marcus Baur/Philip Barth, Germany's 49er representatives 20 years ago at the 2000 Olympic Regatta in Sydney, are celebrating a revival. Thomas Berg, the 2016 national team coach, has teamed up with Hannes Baumann, who finished 11th in London 2012.

Both teams offered a few splashes of colour in the midfield, but after the first day the current World Cup bronze medalists Erik Heil/Thomas Plößel (Hamburg) were also in the middle of the pack after a disappointing start. Following an early start disqualification in the first race, they struggled to get going, finishing in tenth and fifth place, only 15th overall. "In our self-analysis we found out that we actually only perform under pressure. Today we were probably too relaxed. But it was not our goal to give 100 percent because Erik and I had a cold recently," says Thomas Plößel.

His skipper also struggled with a slipped disc in his back four weeks ago: "I'm really glad that everything felt OK today, and I don't have any worries about our performance," said Heil. Plößel took responsibility for the false start into the Kieler Woche. He was one minute too early with his timekeeping. "That has never happened to me before," he said.

The top spot was taken first by the Danish 2008 Olympic champion Jonas Warrer with his crew Jakob Precht Jensen, followed by the fourth-placed team of 2017, Lukasz Przybytek/Pawel Kolodzinski from Poland. The best Germans are Tim Fischer/Fabian Graf (Hamburg/Berlin) in third place. After missing out on Olympic selection for Tokyo 2021, the 2018 World Championship bronze medallists find themselves at the crossroads of their future careers. "After the World Championships, we didn't sit together on the same boat for four or five months. I tried the new Olympic disciplines Kite-Foil and 470 Mixed, but realised that the 49er is the hottest Olympic boat", said Graf. "Tim and I will now sail the Kieler Woche and the European Championships and then decide whether to continue through to 2024."


A small fleet of Finns is taking part in Kieler Woche, many fresh from last week's Europeans in Gdynia. While many had a turn at the front of the fleet, at the end of Day 1, Nicholas Heiner leads with a 1,2,1. Nils Theuninck picked up a 2,4,2 to lie in second while third is Facundo Olezza with a trio of thirds. The second race was won by Max Salminen.

Laser Radial

After two races in the Radials, the Olympic champion and reigning World Champion Marit Bouwmeester (Netherlands) leads the field, followed by the 2019 World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Anne-Marie Rindom (Denmark) and Maria Erdi (Hungary).

Laser Standard

With a second and a fifth place after the first day the reigning world champion Philipp Buhl sits in second place overall, just two points behind Italy's Giovanni Coccoluto who holds top spot. In third place, one point behind Buhl, is Elliot Hanson, Great Britain's representative for next year's Olympic Games.

German Laser stars between tension and relaxation

The Kieler Woche is in the focus, with Olympia on the horizon. The situation seems to be the same for two German Laser aces, Philipp Buhl and Svenja Weger, but nevertheless they are under completely different pressure.

While Buhl, as the reigning world champion, has fulfilled all the Olympic qualification criteria and can plan relaxedly, the pressure is growing on Weger: Kieler Woche is the second of three national elimination regattas for her, and they need to keep their eight-point cushion ahead of their German competitors for the Tokyo ticket.

Philipp Buhl can laugh really well: After winning the World Cup title in February, he switched to a mode he had never experienced before after ten years of top-class sport. "An Olympic medal or a World Championship title was the goal I set myself. Achieving it was a perfect moment to let everything sink in. Corona suddenly gave us a lot of time. That was good after nine years of going on and on and on," said the sports soldier.

The Kieler Woche is now a big surprise for him after months without a lot of Laser, but more Moth sailing. "I don't know exactly where I stand, I'm not in world championship shape. Actually the Kieler Woche result is only secondary for me. But when I am at the starting line, it will certainly be different again. After his World Championship success, the 30-year-old first switched to battery charging mode to rekindle the fire for the Laser. He will begin concrete preparations for the 2021 games in January. "If I'm at a good fitness level, 200 days of preparation should be enough."

In any case, the mind is free of too much pressure: "Winning the World Cup means a lot to me. That is a huge advantage. Even if the games do not take place, I can look back on my career with satisfaction.

Svenja Weger can already present a great international title. She became European Champion in 2014. Nevertheless, her career still needs its crowning glory: Participation in the Games is the big goal. In 2016 no German Laser sailor could qualify for the Olympics, now the 27-year-old seems to be on the right track. Already in 2018 Svenja Weger secured the nations ticket for Tokyo, for the World Championships in February she sailed to 13th place and was the only German to collect points for the qualification.

But now she has to present further top rankings at Kieler Woche and at the beginning of October at the European Championship in Poland. "The Kieler Woche has a similarly high attendance as a world championship. That doesn't exactly make me more relaxed," she admits. "I will only look at myself and try to get in as best I can." The German squad made intensive use of the Corona regatta break to practice fitness and work on the water. "We spent a lot of time in Kiel, but also went to the North Sea in Büsum to see something different. In the last few weeks we also went to Denmark and Sweden for an international comparison. That gave us confidence. I think we are in good training condition."

However, Svenja Weger also lacks a precise overview of her German competitors. The group has split up. While the national trainer works with Weger, Julia Büsselberg and Laura Schewe, Hannah Anderssohn and Pia Kuhlmann have joined other training groups.

The rankings of the Laser ladies at Kieler Woche will give a clear direction which German sailor has a chance to qualify for the Olympic Games.

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