Six nations on the winners’ list
Eight days of high-performance sailing, 19 classes and 278 races: That is the balance sheet of Kiel Week 2020, for which the chief race director Fabian Bach and his teams have been responsible on the inshore race tracks.
“We are very satisfied and, with a few exceptions, were able to complete the entire program in all classes. In the Laser and 29er silver groups we skipped a few races because of the strong wind,” said Bach. “The teams did a great job. Of course we were also lucky with the wind, but that’s part of the game.”
The cooperation with the sailors worked well on the whole, said the chief race director: “We will certainly have to talk to some of them to see whether their and our ideas for the Kiel Week fit together. It’s about the number of races and also the positioning of the race courses. But we only have limited space on the inner lanes.” This year in particular, not all wishes could be met, as the teams were deliberately kept small due to the corona pandemic and the number of organization boats was reduced.
“The goal was to offer high-class racing, and that worked well. For 2021 we are now planning the regatta in June again and hope that we can deal with corona even better with what we have learned over the past week. Then maybe some measures can be scaled back. But we showed that Kieler Woche can offer great racing even under these conditions,” said Bach.
Six nations were on the winners’ list for the second half of Kiel Week. Denmark was top nation ahead of Germany.
After winning national Olympic qualification, Tina Lutz / Susann Beucke also secured their third Kieler Woche victory. Following on from victories in 2012 and 2016, the Kiel gold medal went to the exceptional German sailors. Until the last race, it was a tight battle with the Americans Stephanie Roble / Maggie Shea, for whom a tenth place in the last race was not enough to topple the German crew from first place. The British crew Charlotte Dobson / Saskia Tidey came in third. “It is something special to win in Kiel. We’ll be celebrating tonight,” said the winners of the German Olympic qualification immediately after crossing the finish line. The family cheered the winners as soon as they entered the harbour. After missed tickets for the Olympic Games in London and Rio, this team is finally on its way to the Olympics at its third attempt.
After a superior preliminary round and a solid final round, the Danish Olympic champion from 2008 Jonas Warrer almost gambled away victory at the very end. Together with his bowman Jakob Precht Jensen, Warrer rounded off his regatta with seventh and ninth places. The Danish results opened the door to overall victory for the Spanish team of Diego Botin / Iago Lopez Marra. With a first and a third place they drew on points with Warrer / Precht Jensen. But the tie-break was settled in favour of the Danes who had won more races during the week. The French team Lucas Rual / Emile Amoros climbed to third place. For Erik Heil / Thomas Plößel, it was the perfect finish to the regatta with a race win in the final heat, but still the Germans could finish no higher than sixth overall. “In the end we found the right rig settings and had more speed. If we hadn’t sailed so badly on the first day, we could have done more,” said Plößel.
After a disappointing European Championship in Poland last week, when he had to be content with fifth place, the Dutchman Nicholas Heiner rehabilitated himself at Kiel. Heiner won ahead of the Argentinean Facundo Olezza and the Swiss Nils Theuninck. "It was an important success, a confirmation of the work in the summer," said his trainer Mark Andrews, himself a Finn winner at Kieler Woche seven years ago. “Fifth place in the European Championship was not what we wanted. The conditions there were difficult, but they were for everyone. It was a better fit here. Still, there is still some work to be done. That’s okay because we now know what we have to work on. The goal for coach Andrews is clear: “Tokyo is about a medal. That’s why we’re going there."
The Italians Ruggero Tita / Caterina Banti performed in a class above the rest of the Nacra 17 fleet. Without any slip and with seven wins in twelve races, the Italians relegated reigning world champions John Gimson / Anna Burnet (Great Britain) to a distant second place place. Germans Paul Kohlhoff / Alica Stuhlemmer emerged triumphant from a battle for bronze with the reigning Olympic Champions from Argentina. Santiago Lange / Cecilia Carranza put a lot of pressure on the youngest team in the field. A full 33 years of life experience and three Olympic medals separate 58-year-old sailing legend Lange from 25-year-old Paul Kohlhoff. After a sixth and a tenth place on the final day, the home team made it to bronze by a single point ahead of Argentina. Lange / Carranza had to make do with fourth place overall, despite a victory and a fourth place. The next showdown for these high-speed catamarans is due on September 28th with the European championship on Lake Attersee in Austria.
One slip and Kiel gold was gone. The reigning Laser Radial world and Olympic champion Marit Bouwmeester had could only cross the finish line of the last race in 20th place. The slip-up by the Dutch sailor let the 2019 world champion Anne-Marie Rindom (Denmark) past. "I’m surprised. Marit is a strong competitor, especially when there is a lot of wind. But she made some mistakes, and that was my luck,” said Rindom. “We come to Kiel Week every year, it’s always a great event. We love it. But this year it was particularly high-quality because we didn’t have a regatta after the World Cup.” Rindom took part in both halves of the regatta during Kiel Week, first sailing in the open Laser Radial class and then in the Olympic women’s fleet: “Completing 22 races in eight days - it’s perfect training for the European Championship in three weeks.” After that, the focus is already on Tokyo: “I will work hard and then expect another close fight with Marit.”
At the final in Kiel, Philipp Buhl has already proven his qualities in the final several times. In 2020 Buhl swept to victory with a first and a third place on the final day. Once again, Elliot Hanson was beaten. Two years ago, the Briton had to give Buhl the Kieler Woche victory in the closest of final races, this time the margin of victory was four points. For the German world champion it is his sixth title at Kiel, with the British duo Hanson and Michael Beckett taking silver and bronze. “I haven’t forgotten how to sail in the wind during the long break,” said Buhl. “But winning is not a sure-fire success in this class. There were seven or eight out of the top 15 in the world.”
With their double victory, the Maltese siblings Richard and Antonia Schultheis have sailed into the public eye. The native Germans moved with their family to the Mediterranean island 12 years ago and learned to sail there. After training in the Optimist, they have now arrived in the 29er, and they also sail the foiling Waszp. In the junior skiff, the siblings operate separately - each at the helm with German crews. "It wouldn’t go so well together," says 17-year-old Antonia, who has only been part of a team with her bowman Ole Ulrich for a month and a half and finished in second place at Kiel Week. Her brother Richard, who is two years her junior, has been sailing with Max Körner for around a year and won confidently in Kiel. “The connection came about through our contacts in Germany. Our crews were each missing a helmsman. During the winter we trained in Malta, now in summer on Lake Garda, ”said Richard Schultheis who was pleased with the overall victory. “We didn’t expect that, but we had high ambitions.” Third place behind the two Maltese teams were the Danes Jens-Christian and Jens Philip Dehn-Toftehöj.
By the end of Kiel Week, Cedric Bader / Nicolaj Björnholt (France / Denmark) had sailed an almost perfect regatta. Third place was their worst result, finishing 39 points ahead of the runners-up Robert Schütz / Rea Kühl (Germany) and Mikko and Kirsikka Räisänen (Finland). Onshore, Bader couldn’t stop grinning: “It’s the first time we’ve sailed together. We have never sat on the same boat together before.” Without andy training, the two went on the course and achieved nine wins, a second and a third place in the twelve races. For two helmsmen, it had been an efficient and successful division of labour. “We each concentrated on our own jobs,” said Nicolaj Björnholt, who usually sits at the helm. A sequel is not necessarily on the cards however: “We know each other from Hobie regattas and are good friends. But my number one partner remains my brother,” says Bader. But he didn’t want to rule out a repeat either: "If the opportunity arises ..."
At the end of the regatta, the OK dinghies had the same status as the day before. Given the wind conditions, the class decided not to go on course again. Mads Bendix (Denmark) won ahead of André Budzien (Schwerin) and Thomas Hansson-Mild (Sweden).
Sailing plus X with hygiene and distance
In addition to sailing at the highest level, the Kieler Woche has traditionally been characterized by a colorful event area in Schilksee. But this year is different. The focus of the event is exclusively on sailing. Schilksee is becoming a closed society without an event area. As the total number of people in the event venue at the Olympic Sailing Centre is limited, the area must be closed to the public. The participants are among themselves with trainers and organizers. Event tents, the Sponsors’ Mile and sales stands will be omitted. The Race Office at the Regattahouse, the boot-Düsseldorf-Club as check-in tent, the Vaasahalle and the area around the Kieler Yacht-Club (KYC) in Düsternbrook are the contact points on land. If necessary the boat hall of the KYC in Strande will be integrated. Participants, organizers and trainers receive accreditations that are only valid for certain areas.
“These are enormous challenges that we are facing to give the sailors the opportunity to sail a regattas this year as well. The health of all participants is clearly in the foreground. Hygiene regulations and the distance rules would have to be observed”, says Dirk Ramhorst, Head of Organization of the Kieler Woche regattas. Furthermore, the travel regulations to Germany will influence the final starting lists.
Due to the fact that the analogue Kieler Woche in Schilksee with its colourful programme unfortunately cannot take place this year based on the pandemic and the local viewers are excluded, the organizers are placing even more focus on digital public relations work. The presence in the social media networks is being expanded and the regattas will be made available to sailing fans all over the world via Kieler-Woche-TV. The state capital of Kiel is responsible for the TV and bears the corresponding costs.
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