Let the games begin
Part boat show, sponsor exhibition, picnic, food and music festival, with one of the nation’s largest sailing events attached, Match Race Germany sets sail tomorrow, the opening stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2013. 12 international teams will be competing off Langenargen on Lake Constance with the snow capped peaks of the Swiss and Austrian Alps as a backdrop.
One of the rising stars of whom great things are expected this season is US Virgin Islands sailor Taylor Canfield and his USone team. Canfield, 24, won both the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda last year and then the season’s grand finale, the Monsoon Cup. He joins the Alpari World Match Racing Tour this season as a first time Tour card holder.
Canfield attributes his recent success mainly to his position as Sailing Director of the Chicago Match Race Centre. “That has allowed me to use the boats and just be around match racing non-stop, doing everything from sailing to coaching and umpiring. I have just been sailing all the time.”
Of his approach, now he is a Tour Card holder, Canfield says: “I guess there will be a bit more pressure, but we are going to go into it with level heads and will sail in the casual way we always have, taking one race at a time. You can’t really sweat the small stuff if you lose a race. Hopefully we’ll come in swinging.”
However he acknowledges this is his first time at Match Race Germany, sailing on Lake Constance in the Bavaria 40S.
At the opposite end of the age spectrum is Polish veteran match racer, America’s Cup helmsman and Match Race Germany wildcard, Karol Jablonski. The Match Racing World Champion in 2002 (on his 40th birthday), Jablonski says he is back because can’t stay away. “Match racing is like a drug for me, but in a positive sense. Match racing is the way of sailing I love - that’s why I am here.”
He believes his entry was accepted in order to ‘mix things up’. “Maybe I have an aggressive style of sailing, so I bring some more action into the game. Sometimes the young guys are thinking too much and you have to show them some things they have never done.” So expect some plain old fashioned aggressive match racing – although Jablonski acknowledges that there is a hefty damage deposit on the boats being used here.
German eyes will be on National Match Racing Champion Sven-Erik Horsch and the young blade Philipp Buhl. “Philipp is one of the biggest talents we have in Germany,” says Match Race Germany organiser Eberhard Magg, of the Laser sailor who has in the past been ISAF ranked #2 in the world in the Olympic singlehander.
Buhl is sailing mainly with fellow German Olympic sailors, but has some big boat experience in his crewman Mikael Seifarth. As to his match racing record, Buhl admits: “I have almost none. I’ve done three match races in Lasers, which are a bit different to these boats! But we have an international juror in Germany who knows about match racing and I asked him to talk me through it. Theoretically I know 80% of the moves, but doing it on these boats and sailing against the pros isn’t going to be so easy.”
Realistically Buhl doesn’t believe he will make it past the qualifying round. “Today in the training we saw that even in 5 knots when it is really calm and you have time in the manoeuvres, it was not too easy for us.”
For Eberhard Magg (above left), this is the 16th Match Race Germany he has organised and he is looking forward to the start of the competition tomorrow. “We have a new generation of match racers here,” he says of the competitors. “It is a great line-up and anyone can win. There is no clear favourite at the moment.”
While conditions have been benign this afternoon, Magg anticipates that tomorrow with a depression over Italy the weather could be very different.
Over the next few days crowds will start gathering before the big numbers arrive over the Whitsunday bank holiday weekend. “They come because it is a different type of festival,” says Magg. “The Germans are known for beer festivals with the big steins and OOM TA-TA. This is different, with different food, not just the red sausages and fries and there are nice places to spend your time.”
There is plenty of things to do for families while Porsche World is popular with children and last year had queues of more than 100m. Bands are playing free concerts every night while on Friday there is a ‘typical Bavarian night’. Throughout there is commentary from leading German TV sports presenter, Nils Kaben, while Magg has set up other projects such as the venue becoming a trial horse for 4G, offering lightning speed internet for those with suitably enabled mobile phones.