From 25 August 2021 to 29 August 2021, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein in Hamburg, Germany hosted the 2nd annual Inclusion World Championship for Sailing. Raced aboard Far East S/V14s, a relatively new boat, a total of 18 teams from eight nations competed over four days.
While attendance at the premiere Inclusion World Championships in 2020 was limited due to COVID-19, this year’s event was a prime example of how wonderfully sailing can be used as an inclusive discipline, and the response was positive from all in attendance.
Sailors raced between sun, rain and wind shifts. It was particularly tough at the top of the fleet, since so many prominent faces from parasports were competing.
At the end of the 2021 Inclusion World Championship for Sailing, podium finishers were: Polish sailors Piotr Cichocki and Grzegorz Prokopowicz (1st), Heiko Kröger and Clemens Kraus (2nd, and the 2020 1st place winners) and Jens Kroker and Sabine Kroker-Hohmann (3rd). Kroker and Kroker-Hohmann managed, in the last races, to relegate Swedes Fia Fjelddahl and Markus Jenkinson to fourth, after having held 3rd up to that point.
In addition, well-known racers Sigi Meinka and Dirk Tahlheim were there, as well as the ninth-placed crew from Estonia—Peep Krusberg and Liivika Näks.
Interestingly, this regatta took place at the same time as the Paralympics in Tokyo, which were completed without sailing for the first time since 2000. Leadership from World Sailing attended the NRV event in force, demonstrating their shared devotion to getting Parasailing back into the Paralympics lineup for Los Angeles 2028.
At the prize-giving ceremony at the Alster, representatives from sport and politics reaffirmed the signaling effect and the importance of this event. Massimo Dinge from World Sailing thanked the organizations and athletes for exemplifying inclusion in sport.
The Far East S/V14 sailboat is specially developed for people with disabilities. At the Inclusion World Championship for Sailing, one person with and one without a handicap sailed together in this boat, a new format that focuses on the team and inclusion. Dr. Germar Brockmeier from the German Sailing Association thanked the NRV and all volunteers for their commitment to inclusion and said he hopes “that one day we will no longer have to talk about inclusion if we all want to go sailing together—but that we just do it, no matter who we are.”
Dr. Jonas Leder, Director of the Hamburg State Sports Office and representative of Hamburg Active City, thanked the sailors for a top-notch inclusive event, which he was able to watch live on the water.
Jens Kroker, who in addition to his role as an active sailor is also an athlete representative at World Sailing, said: “We need the feedback from the sailors, the volunteers and the organization to move forward together, and this event is a giant step forward!”
And NRV Commodore Tobias König used the prize-giving ceremony to thank supporters, saying: “Without external support, such an event cannot be realized by a club on its own.”
Sven Jürgensen, initiator of the World Championships in the North German Regatta Club, hopes that the World Championships will also provide the impetus for other sports: “With this World Championship here in the middle of the city and with the broad support we have received for it, we hope others will copy it. Such projects are important to motivate people to get into sport—in our case, sailing. Sport itself has a door-opening effect and as such can have an impact in all areas of society, which is just as important today as ever.”
Next up for these racers is the Kiel Week where J/70 racing will include Inclusion sailing, working to demonstrate that sailing with disabilities can be possible without special conditions.