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26 June 2009, 09:45 am
Italians Take Top Spot At X-35 Worlds After Windy Day At Kieler Woche
The X-35 fleet racing in Kiel
The X-35 fleet racing in Kiel

Kieler Woche 2009
Kiel, Germany

Italy took the lead at the X-35 Worlds, whilst elsewhere it's the German crews who are on top after a wet and windy Thursday at Kieler Woche.
The rain came down in Kiel on Thursday afternoon but with it the wind arrived as well with the X-yachts sailing in their World and European Championships finishing all scheduled races in good shape. However, the first causalities occurred in the dinghy fleets as several boats came in early damaged, including one dismasting. With the weather becoming bad Kieler Woche is living up to its reputation as being able to dish out harsh conditions.

But according to Hilger ERDMANN, Kiel's on-site weather expert since 1983, it will all be over by Friday. Until then though ERDMANN is expecting gusts with more than 30 knots and even worse rain during the night. So overnight docklines were fastened securely and dinghies lashed down tightly.

Having established themselves even more firmly at the top of the X-41 European Championship leaderboard, success comes as a bit of a surprise to the German crew of König & Cie according to co-owner Jörn MEYER from Hamburg. Particularly as their 2009 preparations mainly took place in domestic waters and in the shed. "We knew from regattas last year that we were ok speedwise," MEYER explains. "So we more worked on our manoeuvring skills and on the yacht's maintenance. But of course we are very happy."

The way Galatea, in sixth place overall, prepared for this event could not have been more different from König & Cie as she is based in Italy. It consisted of sailing, sailing and more sailing. For months the crew raced in the Med and only shipped the yacht to Kiel for this event. Just last Friday the team craned Galatea into the waters of the Baltic. Once this European Championship is over the yacht with the half Italian crew will be brought back to the Mediterranean, with the Copa del Rey being Galatea's next event. Owner Florian FAHR says, "It is certainly a big hassle bringing the boat here. But she's it's a German-registered yacht and has to sail in home waters when there is a big event scheduled. There is no question to it!"

Galatea's crew mainly hail from Italy and have hardly ever been to Kiel. To boost local knowledge in the Baltic they hired German multihull specialist and Olympic silver medallist, Roland GAEBLER. GEABLER ranks among the best-known yachtsmen in Germany.

In the X-35 World Championship fleet it's Alessandro SOLERIO's Lelagain from Italy that takes over the top spot from Albert KOOIJMANS' Just4Fun from The Netherlands. Lelagain clocked up a win and a second - and discards a 10th place. After five races in the 33-boat fleet discards now come into play.

The German crew of Celox is quite happy clinging on to place five overall, although some of the crew seem to be even more hungry - they want to reach a podium finish. Not so happy is Stihl's crew led by skipper Sören LANGE. Currently they are barely in the first half of the fleet. But they want to improve. Even though discards are now part of the calculations only half of the event is sailed - so there is still room for improvement.

The final words concerning the weather and the event in general go to the crew of the X-35 X.O from Finland - skippered by Teemu KEKKONEN and currently holding sixth place overall. Asked whether the event is living up to their expectations they answer "absolutely" with huge grins on their faces. Asked whether they were irritated by the deteriorating weather - as the wind was howling through the rigs - the crew answered, with an almost viking-like laughter, "Absolutely not! It's like a typical Finnish summer holiday here!"

Meanwhile in the SAP 505 European Championship, the German pairing of Wolfgang HUNGER and Julien KLEINER remain on track for the title after the second day of racing. Although the team could not repeat the successes of day one when they won both races, they sailed consistently in the top places. Despite currently occupying second place overall, the Danish brothers Jacob and Jörgen BOJSEN-MÖLLER's chances of taking the title are growing slim.

In most other classes sailing in Kieler Woche, German sailors are right in the hunt for top positions. Only the catamaran sailors in both the Formula 18 and Hobie 16 have been on top from the beginning. The German team of Andreas JOHN and Sten HÖPFNER are leading the fleet in the Formula 18 catamarans after the highly experienced favourites and past World Champions Helge and Christian SACH (GER) capsized twice.

Sailors from Germany also hold top positions in the J/24, OK Dinghy and H-boat classes.

Results and more at www.kieler-woche.com.
Hermann Hell (As Amended By ISAF)
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