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50 year Olympic Sailing Regatta in Kiel - Thriller at the finale of the Kiel Olympic Revival

by Hermann Hell / Ralf Abratis 21 Aug 10:11 PDT 10-21 August 2022
Beautiful pictures on the final day ©

The conclusion of the revival of the 1972 Olympic sailing regattas once again offered high tension on the Kiel Fjord.

While in the World Championship of the Tempest the award of the bronze medal was decided by the narrowest of margins, in the Northern European Championship of the Star-class and the International German Championship of the Flying Dutchman gold and silver were disputed.

Besides the already determined Tempest winners Markus Wieser/Thomas Auracher, Jörgen Schönherr/Markus Koy (Star) and Kay-Uwe Lüdtke/Kai Schäfers (Flying Dutchman) celebrated the victorious finish off Kiel.

World Championship of the Tempest

After eight World Championship races, in which either Markus Wieser/Thomas Auracher (Munich) or Lars and Leif Bähr (Berlin) crossed the finish line first, other Tempest crews had the chance to win at the end. Gold and silver had already been awarded in the title fight, and so the world champions (Wieser/Auracher) as well as the first chasers (Bähr/Bähr) decided in the morning to cancel the last race. For the Bähr brothers, it was an opportunity to recall their past duels with Markus Wieser. "In 2007, we had met for the first time - at the German Match Race Championship," recalls Leif Bähr.

In the preliminary round, the Bährs were even able to wrest a victory from the champion. Due to lack of wind, the final round was finally shortened and prevented another encounter. Wieser won the title. The Bährs were able to win the revenge, the German Open of the Tempest 2019 on the Wannsee. Now Wieser was ahead again, so Lars and Leif Bähr are now hoping for another victory in a continuation of the series: "We'd like to meet him again at a Tempest World Championship - and then beat him."

A feeling of happiness and relief spread among Christian Spranger/Christopher Kopp (Chiemsee) after the end of the ninth and final race. They had started the day in third place with a comfortable lead, and they went out in third place - but only just ahead of Herbert Kujan/Oliver Babik (Forggensee). "Start and speed were good, but on the upwind we got the wrong side. Luckily it turned out well," said helmsman Spranger. Crew Kopp summed up the close decision in a few words: "That was another battle of nerves."

For the Tempest class, the Olympic Revival was a return to the place that put the open dinghy keelboat in the spotlight. Designed by Britain's Ian Proctor, the boat was well ahead of its time in the 1960s, clearly beating design competition in the trials for a new Olympic boat class in 1965 and eventually earning Olympic status for the 1972 Games.

The rapid development led to the greats of other classes, switching to the Tempest and sailing for Olympic medals. Valentin Mankin, the Russian Finn Olympic champion in 1968, won his second Olympic gold off Kiel in the Tempest. Four years later in Kingston, Canada, Mankin took another silver, beating U.S. sailing superstar Dennis Connor into third place. But after the 1976 Games, the Tempest lost its Olympic status to the star in which Mankin won another Olympic gold in 1980, becoming one of the most successful Olympic sailors of all time.

After losing its Olympic status, the Tempest retained its appeal especially in Central Europe, in southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, but also in France and England. But also in Australia and the USA there are still some Tempest. This was also reflected in the entry list for the Kiel Olympic Revival. Europe is most strongly represented, but the U.S. flag also flew for the World Championships. Meg Engelmann from Minnesota had not missed the opportunity to compete in Kiel.

"I really enjoyed the days here in Kiel. We had already arrived a few days before and had perfect summer weather," reported the US American, who came to Germany about 30 years ago, has been married for 25 years and lives at Chiemsee. But the U.S. remains just as much her home; in addition to Segelclub Harras Chiemsee, she also represents Lake Harriet Yacht Club, where she once learned to sail on a dinghy.

She was discovered by the Tempest Class Association four years ago and drawn into the class. In 2019, she took part in a Tempest World Championship for the first time on Lake Tegernsee.

"The class is like a big family, and in Florian Fischer I have an experienced crew." For the Revival Regatta, Meg Engelmann sailed in the midfield, but was annoyed by an early start disqualification and a race retirement. "But it was incredibly fun to sail here."

Northern European Star Championship

In the Star, the final day showed how fiercely the Northern European title and placings were fought. The fleet was almost unmanageable in the final race. Race director Robert Niemczcewski had to whistle the pack back at the start several times before he could finally let them on the course. The wind shifts then interfered in the title fight, which was eventually won by Denmark's Jörgen Schönherr with his Hamburg-based crew Markus Koy ahead of training partners Max Kohlhoff/Ole Burzinski (Kiel/Flensburg) and Reinhard Schmidt/Niels Hentschel (Munich/Schaumburg-Lippe).

"We started conservatively, but better than Max. After the first upwind we were third. It then changed back and forth a bit, but in the end we were able to move up to first place," Schönherr said. "The wind was so shifty that covering the competitors was not possible," added Koy, who in the morning had still been annoyed about the penalty points the crew had collected for not wearing the colored bibs for the top crews. "Of course we are happy now, but the penalty points annoy me immensely. A warning would have been enough."

For Schönherr/Koy, the Olympic Revival was the last test for the Star World Championships in Marblehead/USA. It is the 100th World Championships of the former Olympic class, which calls together all the top stars. The Danish-German duo has set its sights high: "We want to be better than last year," said the World Cup fourth-place finishers from 2021 with a grin.

Max Kohlhoff/Ole Burzinski will have to do without the World Championships. "There was a lack of funding," said Burzinski. For the young team, the narrow defeat in front of Kiel weighed on their mood, as they had still given away the overall lead with a fourth place at the end. "We unfortunately dropped a few points already at the beginning of the series. In the last race we maybe didn't stay close enough to Jörgen and Markus. But the conditions were also difficult with current at the start and changing winds on the course," Burzinski tried to swallow the disappointment.

"We take a lot from the regatta, but unfortunately we did not reward ourselves. We want to stay in the Star-class and are planning for the World Championship in Scarlino next year."

Flying Dutchman (International German Championship)

Jörgen Bojsen-Möller, the Danish FD Olympic Champion of 1988, with his brother Jacob had already had to pay tribute to the difficult wind conditions on Saturday and had fallen out of the medal race due to two bloopers. So the decision about gold, silver and bronze became a duel of the nations Germany and Hungary - with the main players, who had already acted at eye level at the Kieler Woche. Kay-Uwe Lüdtke/Kai Schäfers (Berlin/Arnsberg) have been working for a long time to dethrone the record World Champions Szabolcs Majthényi/András Domokos.

Now the Germans were allowed to celebrate. With a stage win at the end, Lüdtke/Schäfers secured the victory. How great the relief was - not only among the winners - could be observed in the harbor. After the boats were slipped, the German fleet flocked to the successful crew, clapping them off, taking them in their arms and giving them a big squeeze.

"Finally it worked out. We now like to take this self-confidence with us to Lake Garda for the World Championships," said Kay-Uwe Lüdtke. "We've been in a position to beat the Hungarians more often, but always made mistakes in the decisive race." And the Kiel final was anything but an easy field, too. "Today the wind actually looked better than yesterday, but then it was difficult again. We caught a lshift to the left better than the Hungarians and then covered them," said Kai Schäfers. While Lüdtke/Schäfers claimed their third victory of the series, Majthényi/Domokos had to settle for fifth place.

"This was already a kind of mini World Championship. A top field and close races. That's why this counts right for us. The world championship is now open," said Lüdtke.

The FD bronze medalist from 1972, Ulli Libor, beamed on shore. "It was huge fun," said the 82-year-old while talking with Jörg Diesch, against whom Ulli Libor/Ernst Greten had failed to qualify for the 1976 Games. "The FD has become much faster and thus also more strenuous," adds Libor.

Twice the veterans capsized. It's exhausting to get back in and keep sailing, Greten says. "And it just costs places," Libor added. On whether it was the last regatta in the FD. "You should never say never, but actually I have arrived in the 2.4mR," Libor looked ahead. Maybe once in Steinhude, where the two had met four years ago. But sailing is tough on the foresheet. "The knee doesn't play along," Greten also feels more comfortable at the helm. Jörg Diesch listened and confessed that he now prefers to sail gulets (vacation boats in Turkey).

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