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Annie Lush strengthens German Ocean Race campaign

by Offshore Team Germany 22 Feb 13:02 GMT
Annie Lush and Robert Stanjek © Offshore Team Germany

Offshore Team Germany pushes on further with it's planning for participation in The Ocean Race 2021/22 (TOR).

The Imoca Open 60 "Einstein" will be prepared in the south of England for installation of the newest generation of foils. With the purchase of a Dehler 30 OD a strong training platform will be created in Germany, and with the formation of the team, Offshore Team Germany has occupied a central position on board for The Ocean Race 2021/22: Annie Lush, one of the most experienced female offshore sailors worldwide, has given her firm commitment to OTG.

Briton Lush used the stage of the German Offshore Awards in Hamburg to promote more women in offshore sailing and to get involved in the German sailing sport: She is in agreement with the OTG team leadership: in 2021/22 she is to contest her third Ocean Race on board the "Einstein".

"After participating twice in 2014/15 and 2017/18 I had closed the chapter for the time being and wanted to concentrate on my role as a mother. But with this team I'm happy to attack again. Great people have come together here and it's a great task to be able to help build up the team from scratch," said the 39-year-old.

The relationship with the German TOR campaign was already established in 2012. As part of the British Match Race Team she sailed off of Weymouth at the Olympic Games and immediately found a good connection to Robert Stanjek in the Olympic Village, who was sailing for Germany in a Star boat at that time. For both of them it was their first Olympic Games and at the same time supposedly the last chance to sail under the five rings, as their disciplines for 2016 had been cancelled from the Olympic programme. Both of them had ideas about switching to offshore after the Olympics and sailing around the world in the Ocean Race. "I had seen the stage arrival of the Ocean racers in Brazil in 2009 and immediately thought: Wow, this is the top of team sport. I have to be there," reports the Brit.

For Annie Lush, the door to the Ocean Race opened quickly after the 2012 Games, with sponsor SCA from Sweden building an all-women team for the 2014/15 race. And Lush, Match Race World Champion of 2010, was part of the selected squad immediately after the trials.

"400 women wanted to participate. I was immediately hooked after the first day on the VO70. We rode the waves at 18 knots. It was a whole new world for me, I was actually used to only doing four knots of boat speed until then!" The team had to prepare for a whole new challenge: "I am happy on the water, but until the Ocean Race I also enjoyed being able to come ashore from racing and go to the pub with friends! Suddenly it was time to focus completely for nine months - always keeping an eye on the team, keeping an eye on trim and speed. But I quickly realized: This is what I like." And the SCA team developed quickly: "We started with very little experience compared to the other teams. At the beginning it was frustrating, we were behind the leaders by days in the initial stages. But as the race progressed, it turned into hours, and we even won the eighth stage".

The crew members of Team SCA made a name for themselves in the offshore scene, and Annie Lush continued her ocean racing career in the 2017/18 edition on board Team Brunel with skipper Bouwe Bekking, sailing alongside superstar Peter Burling to place third overall, but also had some painful experiences. On the third leg from Cape Town to Melbourne the boat was hit by a hard wave in the Southern Ocean. Annie Lush on the Grinder was knocked over and injured her back badly. In Melbourne finally, broken bones were found. But Annie Lush survived this injury and is now back in the mood for offshore sailing.

"Robert invited me to Kiel last year to christen the OTG's Imoca Open 60," smiles Lush, who won her fourth World Championship title in Match Race in 2018 and has meanwhile won 18 medals at World and European Championships. "Afterwards we sailed the Welcome Race at Kiel Week and finally Robert offered to join them to sail the Imoca 60 'Einstein' at the Fastnet Race. The enticements were worth it: "It's a great boat, it's incredibly fun. And we've really learnt a lot from this race." Annie Lush has got the fire again for her own third participation in the Ocean Race and the first of Offshore Team Germany: "I am very excited to be part of the OTG. We are in a great situation: We have a boat, a team and time to prepare. We are ready to put Germany back on the map of the Ocean Race after 20 years!"

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