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Kiel Week - Dream conditions expected for the start

by Andreas Kling 17 Jun 07:19 PDT 18-26 June 2022
Kiel Week will start on Saturday, 18 June at 9 am with the traditional Aalregatta, an offshore race from the Inner Fjord to Eckernfoerde © ChristianBeeck.de / Kieler Woche

Sun over Kiel, smiles on faces, joyful activity in the harbor: In the Olympic Center of Schilksee, the final preparations are under way for Kiel Week in its 140th year.

All signs point to it becoming a regatta and festival week of the kind that organizers, athletes and guests have been missing since 2019. High-class-sport - without the big festivities - also took place in the past two years, albeit at an unusual time in September.

Now the world's largest sailing event presents itself again at the traditional time in the last full week of June and in the beloved environment - as the stage of the top sailors from around the world, who present themselves in a unique way in front of the audience.

"All is set, the Olympic Center has dressed up and our 400 volunteers are ready. We are looking forward to an excellent, unrestricted Kiel Week," says organization manager Dirk Ramhorst. He will open the regatta on Saturday (June 18) at 1 p.m. on the stage in the Sailing Arena with many celebrities. In addition to Düsseldorf trade fair boss Wolfram N. Diener for Kieler Woche premium partner boot, as well as Kiel's mayor Ulf Kämpfer and city president Hans-Werner Tovar, all six german sailing Olympic medal winners from Tokyo will be there.

While the athletes confirmed their participation at the check-in, some boats were still craned into the water at the quay of the harbor basin. Some crews also cast off their lines once again to check their equipment at sea in light winds. And numerous guests came to visit. They were amazed by a Ferris wheel at the southern harbor basin of Schilksee, which opens the event mile with its pagodas and culinary offers, followed by the organization center for the regattas, the stage for the broadcasts of KielerWoche.TV and the Sailors Lounge, where the active sailors can meet for a social gathering after their day's work.

It should be crowded in the coming nine regatta days. Around 4,000 sailors from 46 nations are expected to compete in 26 events - from the junior classes to the Olympic disciplines (starting Wednesday, June 22) and the offshore yachts - to determine the Kiel Week winners. The race committees on the nine courses will reel off a proud program. A total of 270 races are planned on the so-called triangular courses off Schilksee, but also on the sea courses, whose courses extend into Danish waters.

The first starting signal is traditionally given in front of the sports boat harbor Düsternbrook and the backdrop of the inner city festival of the Kieler Woche. 165 yachts will make their way from Kiel's inner fjord to Eckernförde for the Aal-Regatta on Saturday from 9 am. In addition to the warm-up for the experienced crews decorated with world championship titles, the Kiel Week opener will be the first offshore test for some young athletes. The German Sailing Association (DSV) has announced the project "be part of the crew". Newcomers to the scene are thereby placed on yachts.

"We had many requests from boys and girls from the various classes - some from the squads in the dinghy sector. We were able to place a total of eleven," reports Johannes Christophers, head of department for offshore racing at the DSV. "All of them are in their early 20s and will have great experiences. They were randomly assigned to the different yachts. They will have to work hard and will probably also get a shower or two. Because the forecast for the Aal-Regatta will see some strong gusts."

Conditions on the first day of racing also look to be very good for the triangular courses. Kiel Week weather expert Dr. Meeno Schrader announces westerly winds of three to four Beauforts, gusting to five, with sunny weather and pleasant 17 to 21 degrees. Ideal for the chief race officer Fabian Bach to send the ten classes in the first part of the Kiel Week into the first three races - among them with the 29ers to the Euro Cup also the largest field of the Kiel Week. Around 150 crews in the junior skiff class want to be there. "We are of course approaching the task with full concentration on all classes and are well prepared. With the YES regatta ten days ago, we had a successful rehearsal. The 29er special challenges with the large field, of course. We will operate on two courses with four groups. We want to underline our good reputation in the skiff class. After all, many 29ers will be switching to the Olympic classes in the coming years," says Bach.

At the start on Saturday they will also be in the focus of KielerWoche.TV, which will broadcast races live from 1 pm. The cameras will also focus on sail number GER 3222. It belongs to last year's winners Anton (14) and Johann Sach (17), who sensationally stood at the top of the podium at their Kieler Woche premiere in 2021. In the meantime, the brothers are also German champions, junior sailors of the year and won the YES Regatta (Young European Sailing) ten days ago.

"Actually, nothing is different from last year," the foresailor plays down the expectations, "we want to compare ourselves with the international top in view of the European Championships directly afterwards." The starting behavior in large fields needs to be improved further, boat speed and maneuvers are already "at a good level". The 17-year-old sees himself as neither a top favorite nor the hunted. The competition is stronger than in September, especially with the best Frenchmen. Sachs are also counting on other brother crews. These are the reigning world champions Mateo and Simon Codoner Alemany from Spain and Per and Carl Frederik Schwall from the Kiel Yacht Club, who are now also in the boat together.

In addition to Kiel Week honors, the folkboat sailors will also be competing for the unofficial World Championship title over the next four days. The players in the three-man keelboat class have already made five guest appearances off Kiel with their Gold Cup - most recently in 1992. Now they are celebrating their comeback. After two pandemic-related cancellations of the Gold Cup, the Folkeboot teams are happy to be back in the high-class action. "We feel we are in very good hands with the professional water organization at Kiel Week, and will be providing convivial evenings with honors for the day's winners in addition in the event tent at the regatta house, steg beer and barbecue," says Sönke Durst, sports director of the German Class Association.

The festive round already begins on Friday evening (17 June) at 7 p.m. with a marching in of the nations to the hot rhythms of a Sambaband. From the Ferris wheel the way leads to the event tent, where Dirk Ramhorst officially opens the Gold Cup. Durst is pleased with the number of entries: "Kiel Week is a magnet for international sailors. We have even exceeded our own target of 50 participating crews and want to use this opportunity to draw attention to our class again," says Durst.

Among the German co-favorites is Ulf Kipcke from Kiel, who already won the Gold Cup in 2000 and 2015: "At the Trudelmaus regatta last weekend off Laboe, we already had exciting races in the lead with the Danes. We were fast and were able to achieve a top result with second place," says Kipcke. "Of course, we hope to be able to compete at the front now as well. Maybe we even have the chance to win. Then we would be the first German crew to win the Gold Cup three times. That would then already have historical significance." On Tuesday, not only the Folkboat sailors, but also the athletes in the other international classes of the first part will know who can enter the winners' lists of Kiel Week.

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