There was bad news for Olympic hopefuls at the ISAF Grade 1 Kieler Woche on Thursday morning as the confirmed weather forecast meant that racing had to be cancelled for the whole fleet.
Dieter RÜMMELI, Chairman of the Kiel Week organisation, confirmed the weather forecast: South/South Westerly winds 21 - 27 knots, increasing over the day to 35 knots and a possible maximum of 45 knots.
Only the offshore yachts faced the difficult conditions on their rough race course, and the Paralympic 2.4m keelboat sailors finished 4 short inshore courses during the last 2 days. Heiko KRÖGER, (GER) and Thierry SCHMITTER, (NED) share first place, followed by Frenchman Damien Seguin in third position.
The overall desperate wind conditions on Kiel Fjord caused the Race Committee to organise newly laid inshore courses for the Mistral M and W, Europe and Laser classes; all these competitors try to sail as many races as possible, especially as the weather forecast will improve on Friday, June 25, 2004.
Instead of active racing on the water, the press officer Hermann Hell arranged a long and detailed press conference which included yachtsmen/woman from the STAR, TORNADO, FINN and EUROPE classes.
Star sailor Mark REYNOLDS reported on his 3 days' coaching of Alexander HAGEN/Jochen Wolfram, as they will represent Germany in the Star Class in Athens 2004. Alex Hagens last participation in Olympics dates back 16 years, and he as well as Mark Reynolds confirmed the importance of best preparations for an Olympic campaign which includes physical training, tactics, boat speed and -handling, mast trim and endless crew work.
Mark REYNOLDS did not qualify this time in his home country and admitted that Paul CAYARD was better prepared and financially better off to win the US qualifications in the Star class. On Tuesday Mark REYNOLDS finished sixth in Kiel Week, but his experience in the Olympics is that the three best team will win a medal in the forthcoming Olympic Sailing Competitions! The national qualification for the 17 Star teams is already a great success, but to win a medal within this keen international competition is rather difficult and very demanding.
The German Olympic Tornado team Roland GÄBLER and Gunnar STRUCKMANN (Gäbler won Bronze in Sydney 2000 and participated in Atlanta, Pusan, and Barcelona) enjoyed unlimited training and sailing in Greek and Kiel home waters, as they sail as a team just for one year and need this intense "countdown" to compete against the international top sailors. They dream of another medal!
While mega star Ben Ainslie, GBR, trains with his Finn Dinghy unlimited hours in Greece and his British sparring partners feel "sick and tired" of his Olympic training camp in Piräus, the German Olympic Finn sailor Michael Fellmann looks forward to his third Olympic campaign; his relaxed comment: "Wait and see, .... I shall give my best."
Same applies to Petra NIEMANN, (GER) who received her Athens "ticket" in the EUROPE class about 2 months ago and now trains highly motivated and top fit for her second successful participation in Olympic Games. The first race on the day after the Opening Ceremony in Athens has top priority, this time she aims for a medal, ..... and the remaining weeks you can meet her mainly on the water, ..... training, racing, .... and non stop sailing.