Amongst the crews entered at Kiel are seven who currently lead their respective event in the World Cup Standings. However, these crews know they can take nothing for granted as they have some of the world's top sailing talent chasing them down.
Amongst those competing is Beijing gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA), leader of the Laser Radial World Cup Standings and one of the stars of the series to date. Two other Olympic gold medal winning crews come from Great Britain: Paul GOODISON (GBR), who has won the last two World Cup events in the Laser; and the Star team of Iain PERCY and Andrew SIMPSON (GBR), who are making their World Cup debut at Kiel.
"Even after an Olympic year, when many sailors take a break, new crews set up or others completely finish such as the PECKHOLT brothers, entry lists still reflecting not only quantity but also high quality", says Jobst RICHTER, Chairman of Kieler Woche Race Committee who presented a "Kieler Woche of highlights" at the press conference in the newly restored Kiel Yacht-Club-Hotel.
Besides the ISAF Sailing World Cup competition, Kieler Woche has even more to offer. Three high class international championships (the X-35 Worlds, the X-41 Europeans and the SAP Europeans of the 505); the debut of the new Olympic equipment for the Women's Match Racing event, the Elliott 6m; and the virtual Kieler Woche online are other highlights of this year's event, which again brings together all varieties of the sport from cutter sailing to surfboard, dinghy and offshore yachts, disabled sailing events and the famous windjammer parade.
On the starting line...
The ISAF Sailing World Cup, which was launched in Kiel last year, will without a doubt be this year's sporting highlight during Kieler Woche. In particular the debut of the new Elliott 6m match racing keelboat should provide plenty of excitement. A total of 22 crews from 11 nations have entered. Skipper Lucy MACGREGOR (GBR), currently leading the World Cup Standings, tops the entry list. Amongst her challengers will be Mary ROOK (GBR), second in the World Cup Standings, Australian match racing star Katie SPITHILL (AUS) and Ulrike SCHUEMANN (GER), who finished fourth at the Beijing Olympic Games in the Yngling event.
Besides SCHUEMANN and the experienced match race sailor Silke HAHLBROCK (GBR), a third German crew is fighting for match race recognition: Svenja PULS and Janika PULS together with Nele-Marie BOCK. Last year in Kiel, PULS first indicated her interest in match racing which the 24 year old medical student is now about to realise. "We are practising together a lot and have put the main emphasis on sailing rather than our studies", said Svenja, who is also a very successful Europe sailor (World Champion in 2007, winner of YES/Kiel in 2008 and 2009). For her and her sister Janika, a 21 year old economical engineering student who sailed last year's Kieler Woche in the Laser Radial event, the spinnaker is still not the most familiar sail onboard. That is why experienced J24-sailor BOCK (24 years old) is part of the team. "There is still a lot to learn but we are making progress", remarks Janika.
Together with the other World Cup events, the Women's Match Racing competition will begin on Friday 19 June with the practise race. The first start proper will follow on Saturday at 11:00. All World Cup events will be racing until Wednesday 24 June. From Thursday 25 June until Sunday 28 June the International classes will be on the starting line. Offshore races will take place from 20-28 June.
World Cup Stars
As well as the Women's Match Racing event the other World Cup classes, in particular, the Laser Radial, Laser, Finn and Star, have a strong field of competitors in Kiel. In the Laser Radial, TUNNICLIFFE will compete against her closest rivals in the World Cup Standings, second-placed Tina MIHELIC (CRO) as well as third-placed Paige RAILEY (USA). In the Laser class GOODISON will be meeting World Cup leader Nick THOMPSON (GBR). Finn sailor Edward WIGHT (GBR) is not only defending his lead the World Cup but also the title he won at Kieler Woche in 2008. Amongst his closest competitors will be the Olympic silver medallists from Beijing and Athens, respectively, Zach RAILEY (USA) and Rafa TRUJILLO (ESP).
As every year in the Star class it will be a reunion of the best. Due to the European Championship taking place in Kiel two weeks later, the Star-elite will be in Kiel for three weeks. Olympic Champions PERCY and SIMPSON, World Cup leaders Xavier ROHART and Pierre-Alexis PONSOT (FRA), World Cup second-place crew Andrew MACDONALD and Brian FATIH (USA), as well as past winners of the European Championship, Mark MENDELBLATT and Mark STRUBE (USA) - all entered at an early stage. Beijing silver medallists and Medemblik winners Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA), and Beijing bronze medallist Fredrik LOOF and new crew Johan TILLANDER (SWE) might also be joining the group of competitors.
Along with the international stats, a strong German fleet has hopes to finish successfully: Alexander SCHLONSKI and Frithjof KLEEN, who come off the back of a bronze medal at the World Cup in Medemblik; 2008 European Champions Robert STANJEK and Markus KOY; youngsters Johannes BABENDERERDE and Timo JACOBS; Matthias MILLER and Benedikt WENK; along with the new pairing of Olympic Tornado participant Johannes POLGAR and America's Cup participant Tim KROGER.
Kieler Woche giants chasing FINDEL and TELLEN
Highlight of the International Part of Kieler Woche is the SAP 505 European Championship and the contest between Kieler Woche giants Wolfgang HUNGER (GER) and Jörgen BOJSEN-MÖLLER (DEN) who have both won the Kieler Woche trophy 16 times! At YES during Withsun in Kiel, which is said to be the final rehearsal for Kieler Woche, 2007 World Champions Jan SAUGMANN and Morten RAMSBAEK (DEN) finished the regatta in first, belonging to a group of high-class "Fiven". That is also where Jens FINDEL and Johannes TELLEN (GER) are aiming. The 28 year olds are currently the measure of all things especially when it comes to speed.
"I don't like it when I don't get a boat going", says HUNGER who exchanged main and spinnaker to reach the speed of FINDEL. "At the moment he is sailing faster than anyone else", states HUNGER who has already experienced this phenomenon on Lake Garda. You got close to everyone else but no one had reached the speed of FINDEL yet. No wonder that everyone had a good look at FINDEL's boat and sails. "That is no problem in our class. That is what we allow each other", says FINDEL. Material is one thing but the head another. And at the moment everything was fine with him, said FINDEL about his formula of success.
X-classes: Soyka series 7-5-3
The X-35 World Championship during Kieler Woche is hosting a strong field. After the European Championship in 2008 where 16 X-yachts were fighting for the title, a total of 31 yachts from 10 different nations have entered for this year's regatta. Besides Briton Marc RICHMOND and his "Cool Running" (silver at Worlds 2007/bronze at Europeans 2008) the German X-yachts are facing strong competition from Italy. For Christian SOYKA who has been on the starting line in Kiel with his "Immac-X" for the last three years it is more than clear: after the seventh place at the Worlds in 2007 and a fifth at the Europeans in 2008 he is now chasing a third at the Worlds 2009. To realise this, the current X-99 World Champion got his X-35 ready for racing just in time.
Following its little sister's wake, the X-41 fleet will also be coming to Kiel in order to determine their European Champion on racing area Alpha. Among the ten X´s coming from six nations are "König&Cie" and "Extasy" who will be representing the German colours.
ISAF Sailing World Cup
The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:
16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-29 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain
Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including more on the seven events, the latest World Cup Standings, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.