“That was a good start in all aspects", said Dirk Ramhorst, the Regatta Chairman for Kieler Woche! “The only problem now is that expectations are high! After this day, it can only get worse!” He would have loved to let the sailors sail even more, but he had to stick to the framework. Ramhorst’s team was most fortunate, after three days of racing, the race directors had most of the races sailed for all fleets.
It’s not a trivial task managing the one of the world’s largest sailing events. The week-long event took place from June 20th to the 28th for 1,500+ sailboats and over 5,000 sailors.
Three J classes were featured at Kieler Woche- the J/24, J/70 and J/80. For the J/80s, the event was considered the J/80 “Pre-Worlds”, as they will be sailing the J/80 Worlds at the same venue from July 6th to 10th. Thirty-three J/80s sailed in the regatta and the fleet enjoyed the diverse sailing conditions. Demonstrating why he is considered one of Germany’s top sailors, local Kieler YC member Martin Menzner sailed a very strong series to win the J/80 Pre-Worlds. Menzner’s crew on PIKE included Frank Lichte, Mika Rolfs, Carsten Hopp managed to post a 2-3-1-2-1-2 record for 8 pts net. Taking second only 3 pts back was Germany’s Bjorn Beilken with a 1-2-2-4-2-5 tally for 11 pts net. Third place went to Sven Vagt’s team on BOOTSWERFT WINKLER, they were closing fast and nearly pulled off an upset after winning three races in their scoreline of 4-1-5-1-6-1 for 12 pts net.
The J/70s were sailing the first German Open National Championship. It was a great event with 31 boats and marked a fantastic start for the J/70 class in Germany. Several notable sailors from Germany were participating in the fleet, including Christian Soyka- 7x X-99 World Champion; Karol Jablonski- World Match Race Cup Champion and DN Iceboat World Champion from Poland who was sailing on Pit Finis boat from Dusseldorf YC; Karsten Kemmling from Norddeutscher Regattaverein- a top German match racer; Christian Soyka- another X-99 World Champion and 505 World Champion; and Felix Oehme- a winner of the Barcelona World Race in IMOCA 60s.
In the end, it was Spain’s Olympic Medallist Hugo Rocha on NEW TERRITORIES that won the J/70 class in his first major regatta with a 3-4-2-1-6-4 record for 14 pts net. It was a closely fought regatta for the top five with positions changing every day like a “snakes & ladders” board game. Leading the fleet after the first four races was Germany’s Hubert Merkelbach, with a 1-1-4-4 score sheet. However, the last two races proved his undoing as a quick 13-9 meant he had posted two, not one, toss race. Merkelbach finished second overall with 19 pts. German star Claas Lehmann on TRE MAKRELLER was caught in a five-way battle for the bronze position on the podium. Ultimately, Lehmann sailed a 2-10-11-3-18-5 tally to finish with 31 pts net. Only one point back in fourth place was Sweden’s top J/70 team, Oscar Lundqvist on THE PURE CIRCLE with a 5-2-1-7-17-18 record for 32 pts net. Fifth was finally taken by a tie-breaker between Phillipp Kadelbach and Phillipp Bruns with 33 pts each, the tie-break going to Kadelbach’s team.
The thirty-four J/24s were the largest offshore one-design class at Kieler Woche. Teams were participating from Germany, Monaco, Sweden, The Netherlands, Hungary and Great Britain. Skipper Ian Southworth on IL RICCIO with crew of Andy McLelland, David “Sid” Howlett, Simon Philbrick, and Julia Scott managed to show the fleet what it takes to win in very tight J/24 fleets. Posting three wins in ten races, Southworth’s crew were able to sit out the last race so that the German teams Karsunke and Schonfeldt could duel for the 2 & 3 positions on the podium. After winning two races themselves, Frank Schonfeldt’s HENK (with crew of Finn Moller, Till Krueger and Thorsten Sperl) took the silver with a sixth in the last race to win a tie-breaker on 39 pts. Stefan Karsunke’s SULLBERG (with crew of Tim Habekost, Carsten Kerschies, Christian Carstens and Malte Gibbe) lost that tie-breaker to take the bronze. Holding on to fourth place was Peer Kock and fifth was Jan Kahler.
Top women’s team in 13th place overall was Stephanie Kopcke’s VEGA RAGAZZA, sailing with her crew consisting of Ann-Katrin Brugge, Silke Basedow, Amelie Panuschka, Nelle-Marie Bock and Insa-Kristin Horsch from Muhlenberger Segel-Club. For more Kiel Week sailing information