In this Olympic Year, Kiel Week will clearly be dominated by the five rings. The world's biggest sailing event serves as a last serious test before the start of the Olympic Games in Athens.
"We hope that as many Olympic athletes as possible will use Kiel as a dress rehearsal for their fight for the medals. We expect more than 20 national teams"
, race director Dieter RÜMMELI (Kiel Yacht Club) explains, who plans for more than 5,000 sailors from around 50 countries in this 122nd edition of Kiel Week.
For many years now, the first half of Kiel Week (19 to 22 June) has been devoted to 16 international classes. This year's rotation class will be the Bénéteau 25, which will provide an ideal field for successful former dinghy sailors. The former Tornado world champions Oliver and René Schwall (bronze medal winner in Sydney) will be competing against each other in this class.
From 23 to 27 June, the world's sailing elite will gather in Kiel. There are more current world and European champions at the start here than at any other sailing event. Those who make it to success in Kiel definitely stand a good chance in Athens. Be it Ben AINSLIE (GBR), who has been dominating the Finn class with two European and three world champion titles since 2003 after having won Olympic silver and gold in the Laser, or the American stars in the Star Marc REYNOLDS and Magnus.
The German national team look strong with silver medallist Amelie LUX (Kiel/Mistral) and bronze medallist Roland GÄBLER (Tinglev/Tornado) with Gunnar STRUCKMANN (Kiel), Marcus BAUR/Max GROY (Kiel/Fleckeby, 49er) and the Yngling crews of Ulrike SCHÜMANN from Berlin and Kristin WAGNER from Bavaria.
Jochen SCHÜMANN will closely observe his team in Kiel. The 49-year old three-time Olympic champion and America's Cup winner with Alinghi, head of the DSV team in Athens, will not miss the opportunity to see his crews compete with the world elite in Kiel.
From 19 to 27 June, roundabout 260 boats will be out on the off-shore course. The most important race here will be the European championships of the IMS 600 class. Ship-yards and construction offices have taken to this attractive class and have recently built a number of successful yachts with an IMS handicap factor (GPH) of around 600. The German IMS 600 fleet has become more and more successful, too: Horst Mann's Hispaniola (Kiel) won the Copa del Rey off Mallorca and Christian Plump (Bremen) seized the title of IMS 600 European champion 2003 with Hanseatic Lloyd off the Swedish island of Öland.
New ship, tried and tested crew - that is the concept of Thomas Brügge from Neumünster. His new Extasy, an X 43 from Denmark, ranks among the favourites. Apart from the title of German IMS champion 2003 and many other laurels, Brügge also is European IMS vice champion.
With Moonshine (IMX 40/Müller von Blumencron/Hamburg) and Sixty (IMX 40/Alv Gundlach/Kiel), two newcomers will add extra zest to the IMS 600 scene.
Kiel Week partner and presenter BMW Group will bring a novelty and true highlight to the event: BMW will present the "BMW Bootshafen" in the very heart of Kiel and take sailing right into the city centre. The veteran America's Cupper "USA 61" will be a veritable sight. Via TV broadcast from Newport, there will also be reports from the match race between America's Cup candidates Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing, an event to take place parallel to Kiel Week in Newport/Rhode Island, USA. These reports will also feature in a daily sailing magazine that presents the highlights of the Kiel Week regatta on television, as BMW brand messenger Hans-Joachim Stuck explains.
Kiel expects approximately three million visitors again in 2004. For all those sailing enthusiasts, many of whom will use the banks of the Fiord as a natural grandstand, the City of Kiel and Point-of-Sailing marketing agency provide the official Kiel Week spectator boat. Comprehensive information, culinary delights and lots of entertainment will as always be available on shore in Schilksee. Having a chat with world champions or Olympic medallists and enjoying the big fire-works in Schilksee with a circle of friends on Tuesday, 22 June - all that is part of Kiel Week.
Even those who cannot come to Kiel will not have to miss the regatta series. Around 300 journalists from five continents will use print media, radio, TV and the Internet to take the results and reports from Kiel Week out to a world-wide audience.