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Kiel Week 2024: Schwachhofer/Stoltze dominate 49erFX

by Andy Rice 24 Jun 11:07 PDT 22-30 June 2024
49er mark rounding at Kiel Week 2024 - champagne sailing on Monday, 23 June © Sascha Klahn

German team Katharina Schwachhofer and Elena Stoltze dominated day three of Kiel Week as the 49erFX crew swept to scores 2,1,1 in the 28-boat fleet. It was looking set for an all-day match race between the Germans and the Norwegian team of Pia Dahl Andersen and Nora Edland who appeared to have equal skills in the marginal trapezing winds of about 6 to 9 knots.

However, after notching up scores of 1,2 in the first two heats, the Norwegians ruined their scorecard by starting a fraction too early in the last race of the afternoon. While they crossed the finish line in first place, just a fraction ahead of Schwachhofer and Stoltze, there was no finish gun for the Norwegians to enjoy. With this being their second UFD disqualification of the regatta, Norway tumbles down the rankings to fifth overall.

"We were surprised that we were over," said Edland. "It hurts, but we know we're sailing well." Andersen added, laughing: "We just have to go out and get three bullets tomorrow!" Schwachhofer paid tribute to the Norwegian performance. "If they had taken the win ahead of us I would have been very happy for them," she said. "They sailed super well and I made some bad tactical mistakes. But overall we are very happy with our day. We're from Lake Constance, so we're used to sailing in these light conditions."

Still topping the FX rankings are Germany's Inga-Marie Hoffman and Jill Paland who hold on to the yellow bibs for another day after solid scores of 4,11,3. With their usual teammates away on other sailing duties including SailGP in New York, the friends partnered up for the week and are reaping the rewards with a Kiel Week victory looking well within the grasp of this temporary team.

In the 49er gold fleet, Richard Schultheis and Youenn Bertin stepped ashore not feeling particularly happy with their performance. "We got a black flag in the first race and a sixth in the next," shrugged Bertin. But it's still good enough to propel them into first place overall. The crew from Malta will take the yellow leaders' bibs away from Denmark's Frederik Rask and Jakob Precht Jensen, although the points gap is only two points between the teams.

Rask and Jensen are still hurting from having missed out on Olympic selection for Denmark, although the sunshine at Kiel Week is helping to heal the wounds. Rask loves being in amongst the multiple fleets of the regatta, the 29ers in particular. "It's super good fun to have the 29ers and the 49ers together, launching at the same time, and it's just a good reminder to have fun and have the little sister/ older sister relationship going on between the two fleets. That's super good fun." Jensen added: "For me growing up in the 29er, I was always looking up to the 49er, it's the boat I always wanted to get into. It's really nice to have the 29ers around us, it's a reminder of a lot of fun times."

Unfortunately for the 29er youth fleet and the other Olympic classes, there was insufficient wind to get them racing on the other courses further away from the shore. Even so, some of the ILCA 6 sailors decided to go out for some light airs training, including upcoming Olympic representatives at next month's Paris 2024, Vaimo'Oi'A Ripley (Samoa) and Maud Jayet (Switzerland).

Jayet explained her reasons for wanting to come to northern Germany so close to the Games and so far from Marseille. "We came to Kiel Week because we wanted to get some proper racing in. We wanted to just have a proper regatta with a proper start line and race management. We've had a lot of coach regattas in Marseille, but it's never quite the same. I think especially in the Laser fleet, when you have international juries around that changes quite a lot with the pumping and just respecting the rules as well.

"I think when you don't have the proper jury, I think it's easy to think that when you have a tight port/starboard cross, you just go for it anyways. You know that you're not going to have a protest at the end of the day. So I think it's these little details that just make a difference between the coaches regatta racing and normal racing. Obviously with the Games coming up I think we just need to be as sharp as possible around the race course and this is a good place to train for those things."

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