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Kiel Week back in June feels right again

by Andreas Kling 8 Jun 22:37 NZST 18-26 June 2022
Looking forward to a carefree, high-quality Kiel Week 2022: Susann Beucke, Anastasiya and Malte Winkel as well as Iver Ahlmann with Dirk Ramhorst. © Christian Beeck / Kieler Woche

With record-breaking registration numbers, the Olympic 49er and 49er FX are back in Kiel. Top class field in the Nacra 17, 470 for mixed crews for the first time.

Also the newcomers in the Euro Cup of the 29er are strong with about 150 skiffs. How is the German national team performing on the way to Marseille 2024?

Kiel Week comes alive with wind, water and waves. What else embodies the cosmopolitan sporting spirit better than the diversity of athletes from well over 40 nations on nine regatta courses in Schilksee. 14 international boat classes, including the Gold Cup of the Nordic Folkboats in the first part and the 11th ACO Musto Skiff World Championship afterwards, as well as eight Olympic disciplines guarantee top-class sports. Although the races are in the foreground for more than 4000 sailors, it is also for them the encounters, casual and planned, that take on great importance this year.

After the two September editions of 2020 and 2021, which brought the Kiel Week Regatta a lot of international recognition in the grip of the pandemic, the traditional date at the end of June feels right again. Head of Organization Dirk Ramhorst: "We live from the proximity to the many guests and want to enjoy the new, old freedom with them." This also includes the summer festival in the city center, which was sorely missed twice. The regatta at the Schilksee Olympic Center is emerging stronger. A separate opening ceremony on event area and, for the first time, the hosting of the welcome evening of the Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein are proof of the high status of the sailing sport also among politicians.

The period between two Kiel Weeks has never been shorter than from 2021 to 22 - a challenge for the entire organizing team. The number of participants proved once again that Kiel is on the wish list of many crews from Germany and abroad, whether with or without World Cup status in the Olympic disciplines. Some classes are experiencing a run.

"This is a maximum recognition for the performance and commitment of the volunteers," said Ramhorst, who also senses as DSV Vice President: "Kiel remains a milestone on the way to the Olympic Games."

When a red line appears in the Manage2Sail registration system, the capacity limit has been reached. For the 49ers, the maximum number of participants in both classes was raised significantly, so great was the rush for the Olympic skiffs. Nearly 100 men's crews covet admission to Kiel Week.

"We've also increased to three racing courses for the dinghies," explains Principal Race Officer Fabian Bach, "because there were quickly 75 on the list for the women's 49erFX as well." Just as with the Nacra 17 catamarans, which have been increased to 40, the subsequent European Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, are exerting a pull.

For the German silver medalists from Japan last year, the first appearance after the victory in Enoshima will also be a very special one emotionally.

"Yes, it will be our last regatta together in the 49erFX," revealed Susann Beucke from Strande at the pre-event press conference in the Komodoresaal of the Kieler Yacht Club. After careful consideration with helm Tina Lutz, the decision was made against another Olympic campaign. Beucke will from now on dedicate herself to offshore sailing, and will announce details of her Figaro project on Tuesday during Kiel Week. Lutz has gained a professional foothold in human resources management for a major Swiss corporation in Austria.

"We had a wonderful time together with many highs and leave the lows behind," said Susann Beucke four days before her 31st birthday, "when it's at its best, you should set off for new shores."

Those who know her have faith that she will one day win a world race. But before that, they both want to "enjoy our favorite regatta to the fullest." At Kiel Week, Lutz/Beucke will compete once again in their Olympic boat. They will be recognizable by transparent sails, because the South-North combination is already not making the switch to the new FX rig with black sails. Says Beucke, "That's why we have no expectations in terms of sport, we just want to have fun."

At the class premiere in 2013, Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke, who once met at a press conference at Kiel Week, won just as they did in 2016 and most recently two years ago, so they are returning as defending champions.

The 49er Vice World Champions Tim Fischer and Fabian Graf will start for the Kiel Week co-organizers Norddeutscher Regatta Verein and Verein Seglerhaus am Wannsee. The Kiel duo dominated the world elite at the World Championships in November in the Sultanate of Oman before robbing themselves of the gold medal with an early start in the final. On their home turf, it comes to revenge with the world champions Bart Lambriex and Floris van de Werken from the Netherlands.

"Whether we're the hunter or the hunted doesn't matter to us at all," says the helmsman, "we're not putting ourselves under any pressure at all."

Relaxation with an intelligent sailing style is the recipe for success, just don't tense up. In their seventh year together in the boat, Fischer/Graf have learned from past mistakes when they overperformed. This season, Tim Fischer is focusing on his master's thesis in business administration at the University of Kiel, while his crewmate is now a sports soldier. Together with Jakob Meggendorfer and Andreas Spranger from the Bavarian Yacht Club and Max Stingele and Linov Scheel from the Kieler Yacht Club, they form a strong training team under coach Max Groy.

And where are the two-time bronze medalists from the 2016 and 21 Olympics? "We won't be back until the World Championships in the fall," explains Thomas Plößel. After completing his studies as a mechanical engineer, he works at the Reckmann company on roller furling systems for large yachts. Helmsman Erik Heil is continuing his medical studies. After winning their first medal in Rio de Janeiro/Brazil, the two had already impressively demonstrated that a longer break from training and competition need not mean an interruption in their success story.

Heil/Plößl will come to Schilksee anyway. They will open the Kiel Week Regatta 2022 on Saturday (June 18) together with Lutz/Beucke as well as Paul Kohlhoff and Alica Stuhlemmer (Nacra 17) and the Kieler double leader Ulf Kämpfer/Hans-Werner Tovar (Lord Mayor/City President).

"At 1300 hrs. parallel to the first races on the triangular courses, we will give a joint start signal on the event stage," explains Dirk Ramhorst.

Kohlhoff/Stuhlemmer have also set their sights high on the foiling twin hull boat on their own doorstep. For the team from the north, it was already clear immediately after the Olympic bronze medal: "We're going full throttle until 2024. World Championship bronze, also in Oman, was the first strong sign. Meanwhile, there is also a new focus at the ambitious helmsman. In May, Paul Kohlhoff became a father for the first time and now also enjoys "every free minute that we're not on the water."

On the final day of the Medal Races (June 26), he will celebrate his 27th birthday, and with his current foreshearer, perhaps even the third overall victory after 2015 and 16 (then with Carolina Werner). However, the competition will be tough. Italian rivals Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti are in the mix, as are John Gimson and Anna Burnet from Great Britain and Argentina's sailing legend Santiago Lange with Victoria Travascio.

Kiel Week sees a premiere return in the 470 dinghy. It features the second mixed discipline after the Nacras at the Olympic sailing events. Anastasiya Winkel, Olympic sixth on Luise Wanser's boat, now trims aboard her husband Malte. The Ukrainian-born sailor has been braving a double burden since the start of the war, as she is heavily involved in helping refugees.

"Among them are some sailors, some of whom have come with their families," the 28-year-old reports. The Kieler Yacht Club and the Norddeutsche Regatta Verein also help with training opportunities.

In addition, Anastasiya Winkel keeps in daily contact with her mother and 90-year-old grandmother, who can no longer leave Old Shevsk due to old age. The industrial city is located in the Luhansk region only about 50 kilometers from the embattled metropolis of Sjewjerodonezk. Of what used to be more than 100,000 inhabitants, only about a third are still there. Winkel: "So far, at least, my home has not been bombed. I sincerely hope it stays that way."

Given these circumstances, it is difficult to concentrate on competitive sports. A 20-day training camp in Marseille provided a welcome change before Kiel Week. Anastasiya Winkel's Olympic coxswain Luise Wanser (Hamburg), who was one of the few women to remain at the tiller in the new discipline, was also there, now with Philipp Autenrieth in the trapeze.

"Exchange and comparison within the national team and with other countries are the only way to establish ourselves among the world's best," says Malte Winkel, "so we'll play with our cards on the table as long as we can."

The Winkels won one of the training regattas in the south of France and gained self-confidence on the way to their dream of representing the German colors "in Paris" the year after next.

"Due to Tokyo 2021, we are basically just at the beginning of the Olympics, which have been shortened by one year, but we are already intensively preparing," said DSV Sports Director Nadine Stegenwalner, who would like to fill all ten sailing disciplines and sees "the potential for it everywhere."

However, the qualification of nations will already be a higher hurdle than before, because the total number of athletes in sailing has been further reduced by the IOC.

In the international boat classes, the 11th ACO Musto Skiff World Championship and the Nordic Folkboat Gold Cup stand out this year with around 50 starters each. Of the single-handed sailors, Iver Ahlmann has a double home game. The 2011 European Championship runner-up comes as the 2020 Kiel Week winner and managing partner of the Büdelsdorf-based ACO Group, a leading international company for drainage technology and wastewater treatment. After ten years of ACO Musto Skiff World Championships, the company is also a sponsor of Kiel Week.

"Our claim has recently been 'we care for water', which fits very well with sailing," explains Iver Ahlmann, "and sustainability, which is also emphasized by Kiel Week, has always been ideal for our values."

In sporting terms, he will probably have to bake smaller rolls, fears the KiWo defending champion. "My preparation was more like damage limitation," says the 39-year-old, house building and the fourth child have demanded other priorities. Ahlmann names Britain's Jamie Hilton, Dan Vincent and Robbie Wilson alongside sailing pro Peter Greenhalgh and South African Andy Tarboton, international class president, as World Cup favorites. In light winds, he himself, weighing only 68 kilograms, could perhaps put individual exclamation marks.

In addition, the 29ers are once again calling for the Euro Cup in Kiel. With around 150 youth skiffs, they provide the largest field of participants at Kiel Week. After the sensational win in 2021, the junior team of the year comes from the East Holstein village of Zarnekau. Helmsman Anton Sach with his brother Johann is one of last year's youngest ever winners as a 14-year-old. The top talents also won the YES regatta (Young Europeans Sailing) of the KYC at Whitsun as a dress rehearsal in a superior manner and are thus entitled to claim the only German starting place at the Youth Worlds, the youth world championships in the Netherlands (July 8 to 15).

With already more than 160 registrations also the offshore sailing registers a stately popularity. The opener on Saturday morning (June 18) to Eckernförde, which from now on is only traditionally called Aalregatta, enjoys the greatest popularity.

At the Kiel Cup (Monday to Wednesday) the organization goes new ways and opens the classical short races also for yachts of the Yardstick rating; a comparison calculation with ORC inclusive. In addition to the daily up-and-downs, middle distances around fixed sea marks will also be held. The Senatspreis on Thursday and Friday has again been explicitly tailored to two-person crews (double-handed), while the Silbernes Band one day later will go around the northern tip of Langeland overnight.

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