Kiel Week in the Olympic year: dress rehearsal and yardstick for the next generation
Kiel Week 2024 will be the last major international regatta and can serve as a dress rehearsal before the Olympic sailing competitions in Marseille, France. Regardless of this, young, up-and-coming crews in particular are likely to be looking for a sporting comparison with a view to the next Games in 2028. The organisers around the Kiel Yacht Club (KYC) are expecting eight Olympic disciplines from 22 to 30 June, eleven international boat classes and sailing from around 50 nations.
The regatta program was presented by organisation manager Dirk Ramhorst on Monday (22 January) at the traditional Kiel-Treff on the world’s largest water sports trade fair boot Düsseldorf, premium partner of the Kiel Week regattas. Kiel’s Lord Mayor Ulf Kämpfer gave an illustrious crowd of guests from the worlds of sport, politics and business an insight into the largest summer festival in Northern Europe, which is celebrated for nine days on the Kiel Fjord, and also showed the flag for Kiel as a sailing location in the event of a German Olympic bid.
"Most German sailing Olympians have their sporting home in Kiel for good reason. The training conditions are ideal. In addition, Kiel Week offers a top competition and season highlight on our doorstep," said Ramhorst, emphasising the importance of the regatta week. In Schilksee should therefore also host the sailing competitions for a successful national Olympic bid for 2036 or 2040. The hopefuls in the junior squads of the German Sailing Association (DSV) are already preparing for the 2028 Olympics and will compete are expected to face strong international competition on the starting lines of the upcoming Kiel Week. The international classes ILCA6, open to women and men, and 29er with the European Cup for two-person crews are likely to be particularly popular.
Furthermore, the Kiel Week wants to continue to reflect the Olympic sailing program in order to live up to its claim of being a target competition for top-class sport, says Ramhorst. This will once again include iQ foilsurfing for women and men in separate classifications. From 2025 the organisers also want to get the kitefoil scene excited about Kiel Week. Ramhorst: "We are listening directly to the classes and national sailing associations with intensive customer in order to fulfil their wishes and needs."
That’s why "one of them" is now in charge of acquiring top athletes from Germany and abroad. Lena Erdil, two-time surfing world champion and Kiel Week winner 2021 and 22 on the iQ-Foil, has been beating the advertising drum for Kiel Week since the beginning of the year. The Kiel native is a permanent member of the team at Point of Sailing, the marketing and event agency of the Kiel Yacht Club. The 34-year-old will use her authentic contacts with international athletes from the scene "to raise awareness of how professionally the regatta is organised with perfect conditions on land and on the water", which she has experienced herself and wants to pass on. Especially in the young foiling disciplines of kiting and surfing, Kiel’s trump cards have not yet been played.
The Notice of Race for Kiel Week was presented at the Kiel-Treff of boot and the entry portal was activated at Manage2Sail.com. The start on Saturday morning (22 June) will be the largest single race, the Aalregatta. Around 200 offshore yachts will sail from the the inner fjord to Eckernförde. The return regatta is followed by the Kiel-Cup over three days, before the Senatspreis and Silbernes Band with attractive innovations in mode and routing.
This year, the 2.4mR will take centre stage among the international boat classes. The formerly Paralympic keelboat, which is always sailed openly including solo, will also host the open world championship in Schilksee from 29 July to 3 August. Kiel Week is also regarded as a dress rehearsal for this event with an expected impressive number of participants. "I’m expecting all the big names on the fjord," says co-favourite Heiko Kröger, who has already won 13 Kiel Weeks.
The Ammersbek man is also president of the international 2.4mR class association and started a remarkable campaign at the Kiel-Treff. The Kiev Cruising Yacht Club from the Ukraine asked him for to help set up a sailing project for people with disabilities, primarily for war victims. "Sailing can improve physical rehabilitation and psychological healing from trauma, offering those affected a new focus and distraction at the same time," explained Heiko Kröger, "Teamwork promotes social reintegration and strengthens lost self-determination and self-confidence." Heiko Kröger is working with Club Commodore Gennadii Starikov to develop a training concept and collects donations for the purchase of a second-hand 2.4mR boat, which ideally, the boat will be launched at Kiel Week under the UKR sail mark.
With the support of the German Sailing Association (DSV), boot Düsseldorf has also initiated a fundraising campaign in favour of young Ukrainian sailors. There is a special donation page on boot.de. Exhibitors at the trade fair as well as sailing clubs or private donors can find out about the simple procedure. In addition, the DSV has set up an account for monetary donations under the keyword "Help for Ukrainian Sailing Federation". "This campaign is very close to my heart, it is about supporting children who have been brutally torn away from their sport by the war and who have no chance of practising their sport again for the time," said Wolfram N. Diener, Chairman of Messe Düsseldorf GmbH.
At the Kiel-Treff, he looked back on more than five decades of close ties between boot Düsseldorf and Kiel Week. Diener: "Here with us in January, just like in June on the fjord, the numerous guests and water sports fans from Germany and abroad experience and enjoy a unique combination of sport, experience and business. The premium partnership has long since developed into a genuine friendship.
The solidarity between the sailing regatta as the origin of Kiel Week and the breathtaking summer festival for millions of guests in the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein was emphasised by Lord Mayor Ulf Kämpfer. In addition to the highlights of the International Market and Classic Open Air, Balloon Sail and Playing line, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Kämpfer promises a "Kiel Week of Small Moments": "Many associations and committed people are contributing to their smaller and colourful events away from the hustle and bustle to make Kiel Week a work of art. We want to honour this just as much as the very personal moments of our visitors."
Last but not least, the Kiel delegation also flew the flag for Kiel as an Olympic location. "Our claim must be: If there are any chances for the Olympic Games in Germany again, then only with sailing regattas in Kiel.Sailing.City. The fact that the people of Kiel are keen on the Olympics was demonstrated by the successful citizens’ decision to apply for the 2024 Olympics," emphasised Kämpfer and reminded them that the DOSB President at the time, Alfons Hörmann, had also made it clear that Kiel should be considered for a future German bid. "We are definitely prepared and are continuing to invest in the renovation and development of the Schilksee Olympic Centre," said the Lord Mayor. Kiel Week will also benefit from this.
Ulf Kämpfer is also certain that Kiel Week would be inconceivable without strong partners. "boot Düsseldorf has been supporting us for more than 30 years now. And I am delighted that premium partners Audi, REWE and Visa as well as the event partners AIDA Cruises, ViO, Förde Sparkasse and Casinos Schleswig-Holstein are also back on board for Kiel Week 2024." Dirk Ramhorst once again emphasised boot as a premium partner for the regatta part. Together they presented Wolfram N. Diener and boat project manager Petros Michelidakis with the official Kiel Week 2024 poster as a thank you. "You have shown real courage with this creation," said Diener, praising the unusual design.
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