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Strong return to racing for U.S. athletes in Kiel

by Brittney Manning 13 Sep 18:24 PDT 9-13 September 2020
Steph Roble & Maggie Shea Kiel Week 2020 49erFX Silver Medalists © Brittney Manning

On Sunday, September 13, Olympic class racing at the 2020 Kiel Week Regatta came to a close. After several months without racing, all of the sailors are pleased to have the opportunity to compete at the international level again.

Two U.S. boats are especially content with their performances, thanks to finishing the regatta ranked in the top-five. Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wisc.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) finished second overall in the 49erFX fleet, and Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) finished fourth in the Men's Laser fleet.

Roble and Shea sailed an especially consistent regatta. After finishing nearly all of the 13 total races in the top-10, the pair clinched the silver medal position. Their consistency is all the more impressive considering the conditions they faced this week. "The conditions have been very challenging," said Shea. "As is typical in Kiel, we had very shifty and puffy winds off the land. With the unpredictable racing, it was important to sail our own race and not get distracted by what other boats were doing. We focused on having good starts, getting in phase as quickly as possible upwind, and sailing clean around the course."

Roble and Shea are pleased to leave the event with a second-place finish but are even happier to be back on the racecourse, "We are so happy to be racing again," Shea continued. "Over the last couple months, we've worked really hard on boat handling and straight-line boat speed technique, so it was nice to check in with the international fleet."

Like his teammates Roble and Shea, US Sailing Team Athlete Charlie Buckingham spent much of his week at the front of the Men's Laser fleet, finishing outside the top ten only once. His approach of getting back into the routine of racing seems to have paid off as Buckingham finished fourth overall. "It feels really good to be back on the racecourse," he said. "I mainly used this event as a form check and to get back in racing rhythm, as I haven't raced since February."

In the Men's 49er fleet, U.S. athletes Andrew Mollerus (Larchmont, N.Y.) and Ian MacDiarmid (Delray Beach, Fla.) likewise were eager to test the skills they have been working on during the months of practice, against bigger competition.

"This has been the longest break we have ever taken between regattas. The biggest goal was to shake the rust off and sail fast. With championship fleet starting, everything becomes harder and all the top European teams are here, except Great Britain, so the competition is tough," said MacDiarmid.

The pair finished 22nd overall and had several strong races throughout the week, including multiple top-10 results.

Overall, the US Sailing Team is happy to be back on the water and grateful that the 2020 Kiel Week event organizers were able to provide the opportunity to race again. Maggie Shea was especially appreciative of their efforts, "The organizers crammed a lot of efficient racing in over the last four days. We really appreciate all the efforts of the regatta organizers to create and enforce a safe environment during this challenging time."

U.S. Athlete Final Results:

  • Steph Roble & Maggie Shea, Women's 49erFX - 2nd
  • Charlie Buckingham, Men's Laser - 4th
  • Andrew Mollerus & Ian MacDiarmid, Men's 49er - 22nd

Full results available here.

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