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Challenging light winds make consistency difficult

With the gradient breeze fighting the thermal seabreeze on the outer fjord race areas, racers competing on the penultimate day of Kiel Week 2023 had to master difficult, unpredictable changes of wind direction and wind pressure to be able post a set of consistent results.

Patience was required too, as it was after 1500hrs when only the ILCA 6, J/70s, J/24s and 29er Eurocup fleets were let loose on their race courses to race in winds between six and 11 knots. The ILCA 4, Flying Dutchman, Contender and Europe fleets did not race at all on Saturday (24 June) due to the early calms. And with the big classes split into their finals phase fleets, the level of competition also ramped up significantly.

Still leading the 29er Eurocup series regatta at Kiel Week are Irish siblings Clementine and Nathan van Steenberge. Photo: Kiel Week/ChristianBeeck.de

In the 29er Eurocup, after they broke their gennaker pole at the first mark of the second race, Ireland’s regatta leaders Clementine and Nathan van Steenberge had to hold their nerves and fight back to land a low, counting score in their critical final race of the day. They had to retire because of the damage but went on to score a third in the third race which means they still carry a nine points lead into Sunday’s title showdown.

“I am happy just to get that day over with and still be in good shape. It was pretty stressful. We broke the spinnaker pole when we were coming round the top mark and hooked it under another boat. It was really tricky because the wind really was all over the place, it was up and down. The starts meant nothing really because first the wind would be in from the left and then the right, with 30 degrees shifts and 10 knots difference in wind pressure up and down. And here in gold fleet now it is so much harder to get clear air. The second race was a mess as we started when the silver fleet was going round the leeward gate so it was a bit messy. We had a good start in the third race and in third it was just about holding on and controlling the fleet from there. We feel good, we had good speed today and overall we go into tomorrow we will take it as it comes but are hoping for a gold medal.” Reported crew Nathan ven Steenberge.

The Irish duo of the Dun Laoghaire’s National YC now have Britain’s Charley Gran and Sam Webb of Hayling Island as their nearest challengers for the gold medals tomorrow. They finished with a useful fourth, just behind the van Steenberges to lie three points up on French pair Nolan Huet des Aunay and Titouan Gresset of Antibes YC. 

Dutch Hidde Schaffrodt remained runner-up in the ILCA 6 open on SAT at Kiel Week. Photo: Kiel Week/ChristianBeeck.de

The ILCA 6 fleet also saw a mix of high and low scores peppered through the scorelines of the top helms, reflecting how hard it was on Saturday. But Germany’s Paul Ulrich leads into the final day by three points ahead of the Netherlands’ Hidde Schraffordt. The Dutchman, however, came ashore ruing a miserable day from which he carried a 14th and discarded a 22nd. Most consistent performer was Stephanie Norton who counted a 14 pts aggregate. Hong Kong’s 2020 Olympian is up to third overall and is only four points behind Ulrich. “It was not a great day, so very tricky on the water. The wind was everywhere, and I just wasn’t there today.” Grimaced Schraffordt.

Leading the J/70s by 22 points before the final day of racing in Kiel: Malte Winkel (Germany). Photo: Kiel Week/Sascha Klahn

In the J/70s some of Germany’s aspiring Olympians have a firm grip of the class even after a BFD today. Malte Winkel steers the leading boat and they have a 22pts lead going into the final day. But there is a protest against several teams, the leaders included, about which the Technical Committee had received information that they are in breach of Class Rule C 3.2a requiring the helm to be an either an amateur or an ‘owner’.

Racing is due to conclude for all classes Sunday with no race start after 1400hrs LT. Light winds are forecast.


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