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119 entries ready for 2023 ORC World Championship in Kiel

by Offshore Racing Congress 29 Jul 2023 02:21 PDT 4-12 August 2023
ORC World Championship © Studio Borlenghi

An impressive turnout of 119 yachts from 13 nations are registered for the 2023 ORC World Championship that starts one week from today, being held over August 4th to 12th in Kiel, Germany.

"We are more than satisfied with the quality and quantity," says a pleased organization manager Eckhard von der Mosel, who managed the 2014 ORC World Championship in Kiel. All reigning world champions, all medal winners of the 2021 World Championships and European champions from 2022 and 2023 have confirmed their attendance. This large international fleet will compete for the three World Championship titles in Class A (15 entries), Class B (32 entries) and Class C (72 entries).

"Taking into account the shifting trends in sailing, this registration result is really encouraging," said Eckart Reinke, Offshore Chief of Kiel Week and in 2014 one of three race leaders at the ORC World Championship in Kiel, along with Stefan Kunstmann and Fabian Bach. "We have a trend now towards adventure races that feature double-handed and single-handed crews that sail hundreds or even thousands of nautical miles. Large adventure races like the Fastnet Race also currently fit into the mega trend of offshore racing. We can therefore interpret the nearly 120 yachts in Kiel for the World Championship as recognition for the German regatta scene."

This year Reinke, who has been chairman of the German Sailing Association's Sailing Committee since August last year and is regarded as an offshore racing expert, is again concentrating on race management. This internationally renowned Race Officer has officiated at four ORC World Championships (2005, 2009, 2014 and 2021) and has been involved in five European Championships, the America's Cup, the Farr 40 Circuit and race management at events throughout Europe.

For the 2023 ORC World Championship, the courses have already been tested in advance and the active participants were brought on board to help design them.

"With Kiel Week and at Kiel Yacht Club, we have great experience when it comes to designing offshore courses," said Reinke. "For example, the long course will be based on the Silbernes Band race that has proven popular at Kiel Week. Coastal Races of medium distances and 2-5 hour duration are part of the format, which we tested at the MaiOR and Kiel Week events with feedback from the sailors. With this experience, we then adjusted the course diagrams a bit to be able to offer even better courses for this World Championship to test a wide variety of offshore sailing skills."

This new format, race venue and excellence in race management has attracted not only 58 German yachts to the event, but also sizeable fleets from the Baltic states, such as Estonia (13) and Lithuania (10), as well as Scandinavia with 17 entries from Denmark and 7 from Sweden. The remainder of the entries are from NOR, NED, POL, LAT, SUI, FIN, GBR and HKG.

And even if the record 155 entry number of the 2014 Kiel ORC World Championship is not surpassed, Reinke says the fleet should be faster this time.

"The ORC rating system embraces use of new materials and new technologies to make boats faster and to bring innovation to sailing," said Reinke. "Whereas in the one-size-fits-all classes, where attention is paid to ensuring that all the materials are the same, in ORC sailing particular attention is paid to technological advancement, which then benefits all boats over time. Based on this basic understanding, the entire fleet of racing boats is also becoming faster on average from year to year," explaining the end development toward increasingly fast yachts.

Another important feature of this fleet are the number of recent ORC World Champions that are here to defend their titles.

"This may be the first time in the history of this event, which has been held annually since 1999, that the reigning Gold medalists are all assembled for their title defenses at an event in the current year," said Dobbs Davis, ORC Communications Director. This includes in Class A Karl Kwok (HKG) with his TP52 BEAU GESTE; in Class B Marcin Sutkowski (POL) with his GS 44P WINDWHISPER (ex-ESSENTIA 44); and in Class C Ott Kikkas (EST) with his Italia 11.98 SUGAR 3.

The competition will be relying on expert amateur and professional talent. For example, BEAU GESTE has Gavin Brady (NZL) on board. The 49-year-old Kiwi has competed in the Olympics and several America's Cups, such as being tactician aboard TAG HEUER in the 1995 Louis Vuitton Cup, being a helmsman of CHESSIE RACING in the 1997/98 Whitbread Round the World Race, and having sailed Olympic campaigns in the Star Class.

"We are really looking forward to coming to Kiel and defending our title," said Brady. "We'll also enjoy seeing Tilmar Hansen (GER) and his team again on OUTSIDER - they're good friends and rivals, and we love sailing with them in a championship like this."

Each of these teams will face strong challengers. "We are pleased that all the defending champions will be here. That speaks well for Kiel," said von der Mosel.

While the 2022 as well as the 2021 World Champions will try to repeat their successes, there is one team that does not want a repeat. Two-time Class A runner-up OUTSIDER is this time going for Gold.

"Our goal is definitely not to be called a perpetual runner-up," says Bo Teichmann. The 39-year-old project manager has been sailing with this team for 23 years, and after two World Championship silver medals in 2018 behind BEAU GESTE and in 2021 behind Michael Berghorn (GER) with his Mills 45 HALBTROCKEN 4.5, they want to avoid the Silver triple. To do this they will have to leave the two Gold medal winners and their past rivals behind. Five more pros on board, led by Markus Wieser, are expected to help.

A total of four TP52s will be racing off Kiel, and in addition to these fastest-rated yachts in Class A, the 2021 World Champion and 2022 European Champion, HALBTROCKEN 4.5, is also one of the top favorites. Skipper Berghorn is from Hamburg with a talented pro-am crew that includes tactician Jes Gram Hansen (DEN) and match race specialist Frans Hinfelaar (NED). Now at Travemünder Woche 2023 this team is ranked second in the German ORC best in Class A/B behind the 2022 ORC European Class B champion, Jens Kuphal's (GER) Landmark 43 INTERMEZZO, a favorite in this class at Kiel.

Class B also features professional talent where some German yachts and their owners are also hoping for a podium finish.

For example, while INTERMEZZO will compete with his regular crew of Robert Stanjek, Phillip Kasüske and Annie Lusch, they will have a strong rival in skipper Aivar Tuulberg's (EST) team on his Swan 42 KATARIINA II, who has already won silver and bronze medals at prior ORC World Championships.

In Class C, the Italia 11.98 yachts are among the favorites, with SUGAR 3 loaded with a mixed team of Estonian and Italian talent (including designer Matteo Polli), making them likely to be the team to beat. A total of five Italia 11.98s will start, joined by three Italia 9.98s, including IMMAC FRAM, who is giving their farewell performance of the IMMAC project.

"After the IDM off Travemünde, the World Championship is our last regatta, after which the yacht will be sold," explains skipper Kai Mares (GER).

Mares's team is based in Hamburg and is reducing their involvement in sailing. The average age of the Mares all-amateur crew is 30 years old, meaning that the team is no longer one of the youngsters on the ORC circuit. "We have experienced many beautiful and successful sailing years together since 2017," Mares said.

This team collected numerous titles in the past several seasons, including a Class C Silver medal at the ORC Worlds in 2018 in The Hague, and this year a Kiel Cup victory and off Travemünde the overall fourth IDM title in Class C/D. This team will be seeking one last success before leaving the game.

The ORC World Championship in Kiel is supported by partners Sportland Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel.Sailing.City, Sydbank, Gaastra, X-Yachts, North Sails, Pantaenius, Cylops Marine powered by Gotthardt, Kohlhoff, Fachkanzlei für Wassersport Tanis/von der Mosel and NV Charts.

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