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Kiel Week 2023 - Preview

by Andreas Kling 12 Jun 2023 16:21 BST 22-25 June 2023
Start of the traditional Aalregatta, which this year will be particularly impressive with more than 200 yachts © Christian Beeck

Kiel Week 2023 has attracted 1404 entries from 51 nations, a huge field including world champions, Olympic medalists and top talents from local areas and from around the globe.

This should guarantee nine days of sailboat racing at the highest level starting Saturday (June 17).

On the water and on land athletes and sailing fans alike can expect a festival of great racing over eight different course areas. The first half of the event will focus on eight Olympic disciplines leading up to final medal races on Wednesday (June 21),followed by racing for eight international classes over the second part. After the start of the Eel Regatta on the first day, when more than 200 yachts will set off for Eckernförde from 9 a.m, about 350 different races are planned.

"We are proud this great response during times when the rising cost of living has impacted on leisure time," says organization manager Dirk Ramhorst from the Kiel Yacht Club, evaluating the large international participation. In addition to the German athletes, who make up more than half of the entries - around 800, Denmark (63), Sweden (55) and Italy(51) send the strongest representations. There will be flags from all continents, from Argentina, Aruba and Australia to Hong Kong, India, Morocco, South Africa, Ukraine, USA and Cyprus.

With an unbroken popularity of Kiel Week among sailors, the group of partners and sponsors has also grown. "In addition to Audi, REWE and boot, we have Visa on board as our fourth premium partner," says Ramhorst, "the support ensures the professional infrastructure and conditions and an extensive supplementary event program."

For the first time this year, the regatta will be broadcast extensively on free TV on Sport1. Fans and guests will be able to watch it directly whilst in the area of the sol called festival mile in Schilkseeon a large screen at the Audi Sailing Arena and monitors.

"The whole family and all friends close to the action of a high-quality regatta, and to go celebrate with them afterwards as well,that makes Kiel Week particularly unique," Marla Bergmann and Hanna Willeagree. The Kiel students are aiming for a top ten finish in the 49erFX class after narrowly missing out on the Medal Race last year. For them and many others Kiel Week will be valued as a home waters regatta before heading to the Olympic Test Event in Marseille, France.

Qualifying for this also makes the 21-year-old helmswoman and her one-year older fore sailor the favorites for the 2024 Olympic tickets. "Being there would be everything to attack the medals in 2028," says Marla Bergmann. After winning the 2021 World Junior Championships, the duo put their athletic goals first. At the World Championships in August in The Hague,the aim is to secure the national starting place for Marseille. For the time being, they are not thinking about the national elimination. "We'll work together as long as we can in a joint training group," said Hanna Wille, "Individual interests have to take a back seat."

Whether they will launch their new pearl in Kiel is still open. "Magali", a French girl's name meaning Pearl is the name of their new boat, which they christened just last Friday at their home club Mühlenberger Segel-Club in Hamburg. Bergmann: "We will probably only tune it optimally for the World Championships." But as of now, two 49erFXs are ready for the double Olympic campaign to follow in the footsteps of the silver medalists from Japan, Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke, in the medium term.

The future also belongs to 18-year-old Ole Schweckendiek. Having already become European Youth Champion in ILCA 6 and won the Kiel Week2022, the Kieler made the transition to the Olympic ILCA 7 with top marks. Right off the bat, the top talent became U21 World Champion. "That's hard to beat for now, but in the open age group the grapes are already hanging much higher." In order to assert himself even there, where two-time Olympian and 2020 World Champion Philipp Buhl has been the measure of all things nationally for years, Ole Schweckendiek wants to "continue to train as much as possible." That means above all in the weight room, where he has to gain muscle from 80 to 85 kilograms.

In Schilksee, the transfer student will go to the starting line one day after his last oral exam in sports on the subject of training theory as a recent high school graduate. Due to the stress of his final exams,he often only sailed two days a week. The goal, he says, is a grade point average with a 1 in front of the decimal point; in the winter semester, he will begin studying business informatics. "There has to be a mainstay besides sailing," speaks the success-addled realist. The Kiel Week serves as a"good orientation in the internationally strong field". At the beginning of August, it's off to the U21 European Championships in Stavanger, Norway, and in mid-October to the Junior World Championships in Morocco, where Ole Schweckendiek once again wants to assert himself at the top.

Also already decorated with a world champion title is Michael Berghorn from Hamburg. The owner and helmsman of the "halbtrocken4.5" from Kiel Yacht Club won the 2021 ORC World Championship for ocean sailors. The reigning European champion regards Kiel Week as a dress rehearsal for the World Championship in August at the same location. The Mills 45 will receive new sails, for the first time from North Sails, which will be tested and the trim optimized. "We want to build up self-confidence and, of course, not sail behind," is the target set by Berghorn, who has also added the Eel Regatta to the calendar at short notice in addition to the Kiel Cup. "This is more or less a coastal race, as is also the case at the World Championships, a good training."

This means that Michael Berghorn will be one of the very few participants active on all nine days of Kiel Week. Because starting on Thursday, he will be racing the "semi-dry light" at the International German Championship of the J/70. The businessman founded a club especially for this purpose and is recruiting young talent for ORC sailing from the crews.Recently, a new grinder was discovered for the Mills 45. In addition, as many water days as possible count for the helmsman, in order to get a feeling for the boats and to let the practice become routine.

The eleven international boat classes are world champions several times over. Severin Gericke and Xaver Schwarz in the 420, Kai-UweLüdtke and Kai Schäfers in the Flying Dutchman and the Dane Jesper Armbrust in the Contender will ensure this. Numerous defending champions of Kiel Week 2022will also be competing again. Heiko Kröger is already aiming for his 14th overall victory in the 2.4mR. For the Hungarians Szabolcs Majthényi/Andras Domoskos in the FD it would be the eighth. And Sören Dulong Andreasen has won in the Contender in a row since 2019.

Among 77 starters from 27 countries in the 49er, Jakob Meggendorfer and Andreas Spranger's minimum goal is to make it into the top ten medal race on their doorstep. As the only crew in the Olympic squad of the German Sailing Association, the World Championship sixth of Halifax/Canada 2022 are also seeded for the Olympic Test Event at the beginning of July.

The DSV team there also includes Berlin's Julia Büsselberg in ILCA 6, where the international competition is led by last year's winner Mara Stransky from Australia.

The extra class at the top is evidenced by the entries of local world champions from co-organizer Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (NRV)Hamburg. Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth in the 470 Mixed are going for the Kiel gold medal, as are last year's winners Malte and Anastasiya Winkel from Kiel and the newly crowned European Vice Champions Simon Diesch and Anna Markfort from Württembergischer Yacht-Club.

The absolute top favorite in iQ-Foilsurfing is World Champion Sebastian Kördel, who also arrives as Vice European Champion.

The world sailors of 2022, world champions and Olympic champions in Nacra 17, Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti from Italy are also flying the flag in Kiel, where they will meet the local bronze medalists from Enoshima/Japan, Paul Kohlhoff and Alica Stuhlemmer.

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