A star-studding opening by German Chancellor Angela MERKEL will get this year's ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week underway with guest including IOC Vice-President Thomas BACH and three-time America's Cup winner Russell COUTTS.
The opening of the 2008 Kiel Week will take place on Saturday 21 June in the presence of the German Chancellor Angela MERKEL, Peter Harry CARSTENSEN, Prime Minister of the County of Schleswig Holstein and Kiel's Mayor Angelika VOLQUARTZ. About 4,500 sailors from more than 50 nations will participate in this year's Kiel Week (21-29 June) and aim for victory and success on the race courses. Some of the boat classes are more attractive than others, and show entry records, for example, the rising generation of 420 sailors (204 starters), and 29er teams (94 entries), and the equipment for the Olympic Men's One Person Dinghy event, the Laser (151 starters).
A total of 1,400 entries are in the International Regatta and Olympic events, there are about 250 offshore teams, and multiple crews in the cutter races as well as the "Classic Yachts", - this year's participation of competitors from all over the world looks much better than last year.
"After we experienced less participation over the last three years, we are more than content to now reach an entry level which exceeds the one of 2004,"
said Jobst RICHTER, Chairman of the Kieler Yacht Club (KYC) Race Committee.
And even the list of VIP guests reflects the importance and attraction of Kiel Week 2008: The President of the German Olympic Sport's Federation (DSB) and IOC Vice-President Thomas BACH; triple America's Cup winner skipper Russell COUTTS
(NZL); the 12 German Olympic team members who qualified for the Olympic Sailing Competition in Qingdao; and the international elite of Star class sailors ….. they all honour Kiel Week with their presence and/or participation.
"We are open for the vast complexity and variety the sport of sailing offers to everybody. We welcome traditional boat classes and familiar friends of Kiel Week, as well as new concepts and ideas they may come up with,"
stated RICHTER in view of the overall diversity in sailing generally and Kiel Week especially.
The introduction of a 'yellow jersey' for the overall leader; the spectacular foiling Bladeriders and Moth dinghies as "class of the year"; women's match racing at the Debitel port in the centre of the city; the integration of disabled competitors into the open 2.4mR class; the X-35 European Championship; the International German Championship for Offshore yachts (IMS); the newly invented "Schabernack-Cup" for offshore amateur and cruising teams; the Tallship Parade on 28 June; Navy Cutter races around the inner Kiel Fjord; and the line up of Classical Yachts (mainly wooden hulls) on the opening day - all these attractions of Kiel Week 2008 offer a brilliant, broad and unique"fireworks display" of sailing.
"Special thanks go to our various partners who contribute immensely to this annual vast spectrum of the Kiel Week race programme. The sponsors not only support us financially, but whole-heartedly identify themselves with our sport, thus contributing with their own ideas and high calibre engagement,"
Competitors of Kiel Week not only stand for quantity, but also for top quality, as the registered Star fleet shows quite clearly. Top candidate Robert SCHEIDT
(BRA), who will compete in crew Bruno PRADA
, wants to add a Kiel Week victory to his trophy cabinet back home. The Brazilian champion won eight Laser World titles, along with two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004) and one silver medal (2000). In Kiel, SCHEIDT will challenge the present Star World Champions Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ
and Dominik ZYCKI
(POL). Like SCHEIDT, KUSZNIEREWICZ has also competed successfully in past Olympic Games by winning gold in 1996 and bronze in 2004, both times in the Finn. Third top team in the Star class is helmsman Fredrik LOOF
(SWE) who won bronze in the Finn in 2000. LOOF changed from Finn to Star in 2001 and became instantaneously European - (with Magnus LILJEDAHL
) and World Champion (with Christian FINNSGåRD
) in the international Star fleet. Since 2002 Anders EKSTROM
joined LOOF as crew and since then the team has won one World Championship and two European Championships over the last six years.
Women's Match Racing at Kiel Week
During Kiel Week 2008, some elite crews of this future Olympic match race discipline (2012) will start as new generation in women's sailing. A fleet of ten teams representing six nations (Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria and New Zealand) are registered. Silke HAHLBROCK
(GER), #4 in the Women's ISAF World Match Race Rankings
, is the local hero.
Kiel Week - www.kieler-woche.de