Germany’s giant Kieler Woche 2023 was blessed with champagne conditions for its final races on the “Aussenförde” which shimmered in sunshine more reminiscent of the Mediterranean than the Baltic.
It was a fitting end for nine days of competition, featuring Olympic classes finale and showdowns for the eight international dinghy and keelboat fleets.
While several of the leading title contenders struggled to deliver top results in the highly competitive 29er Eurocup’s three deciding races, Denmark’s Nicklas Holt and Katja Visby Svendsen stayed cool in their final charge, scoring a 12th and an 8th. But it was a big, confident final race win which gave the duo from Aarhus the overall Kiel title, topping a field of 168 crews.
The pair has been together just six months and have already committed to future partnerships. Although Holt has previous experience in the class, taking 17th at the 2021 worlds in Valencia, his young crew was almost dumbfounded to have stolen the Kiel title.
“It is just amazing,“ laughed Svendsen, “We sailed stable and consistent. We had good starts and sailed simple. I only hoped to get into the gold fleet. We trained a lot in Aarhus but have only been together for six months. We felt no pressure and kept it simple. It is incredible to win.”
The top performing crew across all three races today in the light 7-10 knots of breeze was the young French duo Jocelyn Le Goff and Jules Vidor from Nantes. Their 3,5,4 scoreline was a significant improvement on their first finals races the day before, giving them the runner-up spot, six points behind the victorious Danes.
“We made good starts, had good speed and just focused on being good at each windward mark.” Said Le Goff.
British series champions Charlie Gran and Sam Webb dropped from an overnight second to third after an 11,13,19 in the difficult, mostly marginal trapezing conditions. There was a big advantage to be in the top ten rounding the windward mark, but getting trapped in the high traffic zones round the mark was terminal. After 32nd at the Europeans and 33rd at the Worlds, the young British duo have made a jump after a winter’s training with their squad on England’s south coast.
“We came hoping for a top ten but dropped from second overnight but in the end we are delighted as it was so unpredictable and shifty, gusty patchy. All the time you are trying to spot what is coming to you.” Said Gran.
In the giant ILCA 6 Open fleet Germany’s Paul Ulrich sealed the class Kiel title with a flourish, taking a second and first to win over Holland’s Hidde Scharffordt by 10 points. Hong Kong’s Olympian Stephanie Norton took third, continuing into the Open fleet racing after competing in the Women’s Olympic singlehander in phase 1 of Kiel Week.
Ulrich was able to defend his top position in a commanding manner. “I saved myself well for the last day,” said the 16 year old, smiling, “My first Kiel Week victory: that’s a huge success at the biggest regatta in the world. I’m enjoying that now.”
But with Warnemünde Week and the European Championships in Poland following shortly afterwards, the regatta calendar for the young sailors continues at a brisk pace. Ulrich cites the German former world champion and NRV member Philipp Buhl as his role model.
The J/70 German championships were marred by a penultimate day protest over crews who were racing without a valid Group 1 categorization and Germany’s Olympic squad sailor Malte Winkel steering whilst not being owner of the boat. Winkel was disqualified and 41 teams had one point penalties added to their scores. Switzerland’s Stefan Seger and his crew won the International German title by four points.