Skiff and Cat European Championships: Outer fjord in Kiel becomes a high speed course

Thursday, 29 June 2017


After the Kiel Week, events continue on the outer fjord in Kiel Schilksee with high speed. From 27. July until 4. August, the fastest Olympic classes 49er, 49erFX and Nacra17 will be on the water for some dynamic racing during the European Champioships in Kiel. This time, the Nacra17 can for the first time show their ability "to fly" with the new foils in a regatta.

There is not much recovery time for the sailors in Kiel. One big sailing event follows after the other. After the Kiel Week, the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra17 only have little time to be fit again right on time.

Because there are only four weeks to go, until the sailing elite again is guest on the fjord. The registration lists are full of sailing stars - even from New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Brazil, although they cannot compete to win the Europeans' title. But they sure want to win the regatta on one of the best sailing territories in the world.

Among them are the Olympic winners from Rio in the 49erFX. The Brazilian Martine Grael and Kahene Kunze have already won everything in their career, have been awarded as World Sailors of the Year 2014 and definitely belong to the favourites in the fleet of 55 registered skiffs. The German team is represented with six boats and also aiming for a top ranking. Victoria Jurczok/Anika Lorenz (Kiel) had to be content with rank nine in Rio, but the third-placed from the Worlds 2016 are always up for winning a medal - just like Lutz/Susann Beucke (Prien/Strande), who did win the Kiel Week last year and now want to attack again. This is also the case for Jule and Lotta Goerge, who did grow up at the bay of Strande - their home territory.

Robert Scheidt, Olympic Champion from 1996 and 2004 in the Laser Class, is now racing in 49er class. Kieler Woche / www.segel-bilder.de

"Am I too old?" The 44-year old Brazilian Robert Scheidt has been asking himself that question after six times participating at the Olympics and decided: "No!" As long as he is waking up each morning saying, he wants to go sailing, this is exactly right for him. Also after the change from the relatively gentle Laser to the vicious skiff. „I like the boat, the concept behind it and the racing. It is a challenge for me“, he explained during the Kiel Week. And after he has already won Olympic medals in the Laser and Starboat, he now is aiming at sailing in the top of the fleet at the European Championship - together with his crew Gabriel Borges. Eight boats have already registered for the German team. Altogether, 74 boats will be at the start line. The third-ranked at the Olympics, Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (Kiel) will be absent due to other obligations. But Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme (Kiel) are keen to again win the European title like in 2015. "We will definitely take part", Justus Schmidt is happy.

Nacra 17 class Thomas Zajac and Barbara Matz. Kieler Woche / okPress

A bit smaller, but not less exciting is the fleet of the Nacra17, who are participating with a complete new concept. So far, the mixed catamarans have been sailed with the C-foils. Now they are changing to the Z-foils, which make the catamaran a full-foiler - which means a "flying" boat. Since not all crews are willing or able to make this change, there will be two rating classes in Kiel: the open regatta for C-foils and the European Championship for Z-foils. The whole elite of Olympic catamaran sailing is represented among the 36 registrations: Santiago Lange from Argentina has been awarded Sailor of the Year for his Olympic gold medal. With his gold partner Cecilia Carranza Saroli, he will again try to keep the second from Rio, Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin from Australia, at distance. First candidate for the European title is Thomas Zajac (Austria). Despite the crew change, the third from the Olympics is again back on track, which he did prove by winning at the Kiel Week with his new crew Barbara Matz.

How the transformation from C- to Z-foils works and whether there are any differences between the new boats and the old boats that have been adjusted with a conversion kit deciding between victory and defeat, remains exciting. German hopes are pinned on the second of the Kiel Week, Jan Hauke Erichsen/Ann Kristin Wedemeyer (Flensburg) and Paul Kohlhoff (Kiel), who is now starting with team partner Luisa Krüger after separating with from his former crew Carolina Werner.

The Brazilians will also play an important role in the male skiff class. Robert Scheidt, five-time Olympic medal winner in the Laser and Star (two-time gold in the Laser), has changed the boat for this season and now wants to attack in the 49er - together with his crew Gabriel Borges. At the beginning of the year, the duo has worked on the boat handling. But Scheidt is very likely capable of taking not much time to get to know the skiff on a world-class level. And the 44-year old sailor has an experienced skiff sailor at his side. At the Olympics 2016, Borges has sailed with Marco Grael, another child of Torben Grael, and did finish on rank eleven. Grael has also registered for Kiel, and will be sailing with his new partner Carles Robles. This encounter alone will probably bring lots of tension to the races.

Hermann Hell

Presented by Cathy McLean

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 29 June 2017 )