Stars head for Keiler Woche

Olympic class racing, keel boats and one design championships to run next week

Tuesday June 16th 2009, Author: Hermann Hell, Location: United Kingdom
The world’s elite of Olympic sailing will be meeting for the 127 years old Kieler Woche over 20-28 June. A total of seven top athletes of ISAF Sailing World Cup (SWC) ranking list have entered for Kiel to defend or improve their placings. Among them, gold medallist Anna Tunicliffe (USA/ Laser Radial) and Paul Goodison (GBR/Laser) as well as the British Star boat sailors Iain Percy/Andrew Simpson.

“Even if after an Olympic year many sailors taking it easy, new crews setting up or others completely finishing as the Peckholt brothers, entry lists still reflecting not only quantity but also high quality”, says Jobst Richter, Chairman of Kieler Woche Race Committee who presented a 'Kieler Woche of highlights' at a press conference in the newly restored Kiel Yacht-Club-Hotel.

Besides the ISAF Sailing World Cup which after five regattas in Australia, USA and Europe makes a stopover in Kiel before the finals take place in Weymouth in September, Kieler Woche has even more to offer: three high class international championships (the X-35 Worlds, the X-41 Europeans and the SAP Europeans of the 505), the debut of the new Olympic women’s class Elliott 6m and the virtual Kieler Woche online are the highlights of this year’s Kieler Woche which again brings together all varieties of the sport from cutter sailing to surfboard, dinghy, offshore yacht up to the integration of disabled sailors and the famous windjammer parade.

The ISAF Sailing World Cup, presented in Kiel last year, will without a doubt be this year’s sporting highlight during Kieler Woche. The cup comes back and the sailing world is looking at Kiel where for the first time also the new Olympic women match racing boat, the Elliott 6m will be making its European debut. A total of 22 crews from 11 nations have entered. Lucy Macgregor (GBR) is in the leading position of ISAF SWC ranking list ahead of second placed Mary Rook (GBR) as well as Australian Katie Spithill (AUS) and Germany's Ulrike Schümann who finished second at the Delta Regatta. But besides Schümann's crew and the experienced match race sailor Silke Hahlbrock (6th place at the 2008 Worlds), a third German crew is fighting for match race recognition: Svenja and Janika Puls together with Nele-Marie Bock. Already last year in Kiel Svenja and Puls indicated her interest in match racing, which the 24 years old medical student is now about to realise. “We are practising a lot together and have put the main emphasis on sailing rather than our studies“, said Puls previously a very successful Europe sailor, having been World Champion in 2007, winner of YES Kiel in 2008 and 2009. For her and her sister Janika, a 21 year old economical engineering student who sailed last year´s Kieler Woche in a Laser Radial, the spinnaker is still not the most familiar sail onboard. That is why experienced J/24-sailor Nele-Marie Bock is part of the team. “There is still a lot to learn but we are making progress“, remarks Janika Puls.

Together with the other Olympic disciplines, the womens’ match race will also already begin on Friday, 19 June with a practise race. The first official start will then be on Saturday at 1100. All Olympic classes will be racing until Wednesday, 24 June. From Thursday, 25 June until Sunday, 28 June the International classes will be on the starting line. Offshore races will take place from 20-28 June.

Stars in the Starboat – German fleet is on its way

Besides match racing, other classes such as the Laser Radial, Laser, Finn and Star will have a strong field of competitors in Kiel as well.

Favourite in the Laser Radial class is gold medallist from Qingda, Anna Tunnicliffe (USA). As current leader of the SWC ranking list she will compete against second placed Tina Mihelic (CRO) as well as third placed Paige Railey (USA).

In the Laser class, Beijing gold medallist Paul Goodison will be up against SWC first placed Nick Thompson. Meanwhile in the Finn Edward Wight (GBR) not only is in the leading position of the SWC ranking list, but was also winner of Kieler Woche 2008. He will be up against Qingdao silver medallist Zack Railey and Athens silver medallist Rafael Trujillo, who also finished last year’s Kieler Woche in second.

As every year in the Star class, it will be a reunion of the best. Due to the European Championship taking place in Kiel two weeks later, the Star-elite will be in Kiel for three weeks. Beijing Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy/Andrew Simpson (GBR), leader of the SWC ranking list Xavier Rohart/Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA/bronze medal 2004), Andrew Macdonald/Brian Faith (USA/second in the SWC ranking list) as well as European Champion Mark Mendelblatt/Mark Strube (USA) - are all entered at an early stage. Two time Laser gold medallist Robert Scheidt/Bruno Prada (BRA), the Swedes Fredrik Lööf and Johann Tillander (bronze 2008) are set to join the competition. A strong German fleet also has hopes of finishing successfully: Alexander Schlonski/Frithjof Kleen (NRV/third of SWC in Medemblik/Netherlands), European Champion of 2008 Robert Stanjek/Markus Koy (Berlin/Hamburg/NRV), youngsters Johannes Babendererde/Timo Jacobs (Lübeck/NRV), Matthias Miller/Benedikt Wenk (Constance/VSaW) as well as the new constellation of Olympic participant (Tornado) Johannes Polgar and America’s Cup participant Tim Kröger (Hamburg/NRV).

Kieler Woche giants chasing Findel/Tellen

Highlight of the international Part of Kieler Woche is the SAP 505 European Championship and the contest between Kieler Woche giants Wolfgang Hunger (Germany) and Jörgen Bojsen-Möller (Denmark) who have both won the Kieler Woche trophy 16 times by now. At YES over Whitsun in Kiel, said to be the final rehearsal for Kieler Woche, Jan Saugmann/Morten Ramsbaek (DEN/World Champion 2007) finished the regatta in first.

“I don´t like it when I don't get a boat going“, says Hunger who exchanged main and spinnaker to reach the speed of Findel. “At the moment he is sailing faster than anyone else“, states Hunger who has already experienced this phenomenon on Lake Garda. You got close to everyone else but no one had reached the speed of Findel yet. No wonder that everyone had a good look at Findel´s boat and sails. “That is no problem in our class. That is what we allow each other“, says Findel. Material is one thing but the head another. And at the moment everything was fine with him, said Findel about his formula for success.

X-classes: Soyka series 7-5-3

The X-35 World Championship to be held during Kieler Woche will host a strong field. After the European Championship in 2008 where 16 X-Yachts were fighting for the title, a total of 31 yachts from 10 different nations have entered for this year’s regatta. Besides Briton Marc Richmond and his Cool Running (silver at Worlds 2007/bronze at Europeans 2008) the German X-Yachts are facing strong competition from Italy. For Christian Soyka who has been on the starting line in Kiel with his Immac-X for the last three years it is more than clear: After the seventh place at the Worlds in 2007 and a fifth at the Europeans in 2008 is now consequently following a third at the Worlds 2009. To realise this, the current X-99 World Champion got his X-35 ready for racing just in time.

Following its little sister’s wake, the X-41 fleet will also be coming to Kiel in order to determine their European Champion on racing area Alpha.

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