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Young sailing talents are rushing to Kiel Week

by Hermann Hell 23 Jul 2021 06:09 BST 4-12 September 2021
Sebastian Kördel (Hamburg) is number one on the iQFoil in Germany. © Martina Orsini

Kiel Week is taking place under special conditions. For the second time after 2020, Kiel Week (4-12 September) will take place in September.

"We made the decision together with the city of Kiel, because the regatta event and the festival simply stick together to make it a 'real' Kiel Week," says Kiel Week's Head of Organization, Dirk Ramhorst.

Even though the pandemic still has an impact on events, things are looking much better than the year before. Thus, many program activities are planned in the city and Schilksee also onshore.

"Of course, we keep an eye on the development of the pandemic, but we are really optimistic," says Ramhorst.

Offshore, the omens are changed after the Games and in the month of the European Championships. Some Olympic classes are missing, the new generation is pushing to Kiel and with the future Olympic class IQFoils, surfing returns to Kiel after nine years of abstinence.

29er flood Kiel

For years, the junior classes at Kiel Week have been well represented, but in 2021 the number of entries is overflowing. Whereas last year 99 crews competed in the junior 29er skiff, this year 160 starters from 16 nations have entered for the Kiel Week races and the integrated Eurocup: This is a record! 25 crews are already on the waiting list.

"The youth is a big part of the Kiel Week regattas. We are delighted that the youngsters are embracing Kiel Week strongly. The interaction of World and European Champions, Olympic athletes, sailors and youngsters is what makes Kiel Week," says regatta head of organization Dirk Ramhorst.

The three Kiel Week medal winners from last year will be at the start - first and foremost the Maltese siblings Richard and Antonia Schultheis. Born in Germany, they emigrated to Malta with their parents 13 years ago and learned to sail there. To avoid a sibling quarrel, they steer separately. They were joined on board by German crew members. Richard sails with Max Körner and won the Kiel Week 2020, Antonia took second place together with Ole Ulrich in the 29er after only two months. The Danish duo Jens-Christian and Jens Philip Degn-Toftehöj (third place 2020) complete the trio of favorites.

The German junior crews might have a hard time, even if with Per Christoffer Schwall/Simon Schmidt (Kiel), Carl Krause/Max Georgi (Rostock) and Anna Barth/Alva Feilcke three duos from the German youth national team are at the start. And besides the next generation Schwall (René, father of Per Christoffer, won Tornado bronze at the 2000 Olympic Games with Roland Gäbler in Sydney), the name Sach also appears again in the starting lists. The sons of Christian Sach (together with his brother Helge multiple Kiel Week winner) are also at the start.

Also in the other junior classes the youth is pushing to Kiel. In the 420 so far 94 crews from four nations have registered, in the junior single-handed boat Laser ILCA4 78 athletes, in the ILAC 6 women 88, in the ILAC6 (men) 105.

Comeback of the surfers after nine years

The surfers find their way back to Kiel this year. After the Mistral class (1990 to 2005) and the RS:X Boards (2006 to 2011), the surfers are competing again in Kiel after a nine-year Kiel Week hiatus: The new Olympic class iQFoil will start in the second part of Kiel Week from Thursday to Sunday (September 9-12).

And the German athletes will be competing in the new Olympic class (from 2024 in Paris). At the International iQFoil Games on Lake Garda, Sebastian Kördel (NRV) took fourth place in the 69-strong field of competitors from 15 nations after last year's victory this May. Lena Erdil (NRV) finished seventh in the field of 38 surfers also from 15 nations. So far, athletes from four nations have registered for Kiel. In addition to Lena Erdil and Sebastian Kördel (both DSV perspective team members), Fabian Wolf (junior member of the team) and U21 surfer Theresa Steinlein will take to the starting line in Kiel to represent the German national colors.

"We are happy the Kiel Week has surfing in the schedule again", says Head of Organization Dirk Ramhorst.

Kiel Week focuses on Inclusion

The Executive Board of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has decided: Sailing will not be at the start of the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024. The entire sailing world was disappointed, including the organizers of the sailing events in Kiel, who, unlike the IPC, continue to focus on Inclusion in sailing. "The 2.4mR class remains an integral part of Kiel Week," said Kiel Week Regattas Head of Organization Dirk Ramhorst. "There is hardly any sport that offers so many opportunities for inclusion as sailing," adds Ramhorst.

The enthusiasm about the perfect integration of the Para Sailing Championships into the Kiel Week 2017 created high waves. The World Sailing Association, the International Paralympics Committee/IPC, the German Disabled Sports Association/DBS, as well as the representatives of EUROSAF showered Kiel with compliments.

Inclusion fits perfectly into Kiel's concept. "We have ideal conditions for it. That's why inclusion has been an integral part of Kiel Week for years," says Ramhorst. In 2002, Paralympic classes were included in Kiel Week for the first time, and since 2008, the 2.4mR class has been announced openly.

"We need an inclusive society with fully barrier-free environments that empower people with impairments to engage in sporting activities and experience safe and fair participation. Kiel has shown how this can be done," said Kim Andersen, then President of the World Sailing Federation.

Heiko Kröger, two-time Paralympic medalist, has worked tirelessly to ensure that Kiel has created the ideal conditions for obstacle-free sailing. And the state capital has put a lot of money into making barrier-free sailing and spectating possible in Schilksee.

So the 2.4mR class is also announced this year, and already 24 active sailors from five nations have entered. In addition to Heiko Kroeger, there are also well-known non-disabled sailors in Kiel, such as Kalle Dehler, who otherwise races more on offshore yachts. But the 4.18 meter long keelboat inspires many newcomers.

Also the almost 40-time German champion in five different boat classes, Frank Schönfeld from Hamburg. The singing pirate (Schönfeld wrote songs, sang and "grew up" in the Pirat) is enthusiastic about the smallest construction class measured according to the meter rule. In hardly any other boat would this equality of opportunity exist.

Whether woman or man. Whether 80 or 16 years old, all could compete against each other, explains the sailmaker. Everyone sits deep in the boat, and there are no physical disadvantages in this ideal inclusion boat, which will be competing again in Kiel after the one-time pandemic break in 2020. The World Sailing Federation, the city of Kiel and the organizers of the regattas around the Kieler Yacht-Club will continue to pull together for perfect inclusion in the future.

Hunger chases the 25

Two more Kiel Week victories and Dr. Wolfgang Hunger has cracked the magic 25. After a long series of successes in the Olympic 470 with three participations in the Olympic Games (rank 4, 5 and 8), two World Championship titles and two World Championship silver medals, an even longer success story followed in the 505, which continues to this day. A total of five World Campionship titles and two bronze medals are on the books in the sporting dinghy. But in Kiel, the doctor holds a very special lonesome record. So far, Wolfgang Hunger has sailed to 23 Kiel Week victories.

This year, the exceptional sailor and his crew Holger Jess are aiming for their 24th title. This duo had already secured seven titles from 1997 to 2007, before Julien Kleiner climbed aboard Wolfgang Hunger. Hunger went on to win six more 505 titles in a row before the streak was broken and ex-crew Jess got in the way of his former helmsman.

In 2015 at the foresheet of Maike Schömäker (so far the only woman in the Kiel Week winners list in the 505) and in 2018 together with helmsman Michael Quirk (Australia) Jess was ahead of Hunger. Jess was ahead of Hunger in 2015 with Maike Schömäker (so far the only woman in the Kiel Week winners list in the 505) and in 2018 together with Michael Quirk (Australia). He wants to achieve this again this year, but reunited in the same boat.

The big goal is 25, and of course they want to sail well in every race and win. But it's not about a number, Hunger explains. But the media naturally follows the series of successes, and no one has ever achieved 25 titels. And Hunger wants to get it wrapped up next year.

Kiel Week winners Jan-Philipp Hofmann (Langenfeld/2014), Jan Saugmann (Denmark/2006), Tim Böger (Hamburg/1994) and 18 other crews from three nations will try to push this achivement beyond 2022. But freshly crowned German Champions are always favorites on the Kiel Fjord.

On my own behalf

With this press release I say goodbye to you as press officer of Kiel Week. After 30 years I am handing over the office to Andreas Kling.

I would like to thank you for the good cooperation. I will remain connected to the Kieler Yacht-Club and will continue to advise them on media issues. I will also be in charge of further regattas and assist Andreas. I am glad to have such a competent successor.

Hermann Hell

Information and interesting facts about Kiel Week can be found at

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