A year ago three sailors from Viken stood on the dock in the home the 1972 Kiel Olympic sailing and promised our selves not to sign up for the next years Kieler Woche! We had experienced heavy winds with gusts in the area of 15 m/s and a race course that was at least 6 nm from where launched our boats. At the same time we all agreed that we had experienced something special. By taking part in Kiel we had learnt more than we could possibly do in Viken over several weeks. The competition keeps you on your toes and the organisation of the racing is nothing but world class!
On 3 September in the afternoon we were five sailors from Viken unloading our boats and getting ready for four days of close racing. The troop from last had been extended with Håkan Söderberg and Lard Bergfeldt. Benjamin Hammerö, Patric Mure and Pontus Gäbel returned for the second year running! This year we were in the same group as the Contenders and 5o5s in the most northern part of the harbour, with quick access to the slip to launch as soon as the race committee sounded the horn indicating the start of the day!
We rounded off the first day in Kiel with an Italian dinner to get into race spirit. Benjamin had already booked a table in the restaurant that would become something of a favourite evening hangout during our stay. Good food and quick service made everyone feel at home!
Day 1 – Saturday
Registration was possible until lunch and the racing was planned to start at 13:00. With little wind out of the NW it took well over an hour to get to race area KILO. When we got there the wind had stabilised and there was a slight chop that made it challenging to keep the pace going upwind. The OK was the third class in the start sequence. The 5o5 and the Contenders were ahead of us and we got a clear start in the second attempt. By this time the wind had started to drop and it took close to an hour to complete one lap. Unfortunately the race was cancelled at the bottom mark and no one got a score. We entered a holding patterns while we waited for the wind to pick up, but at 17:00 the race committee hoisted the AP signal and everyone headed for the shore. By this time the wind had died and we were towed by all available boats.
Day 2 – Sunday
The wind that the forecast had promised had built over night and there was a steady 8 m/s out of the E to NE. The chase to race area ECHO was a breeze under clear blue skies, warm water and mild winds. As we were racing on fairly shallow water the easterly winds quickly resulted in a good size swell which promised exciting and quick down wind legs. A few of the boats called it the day before racing started and a few did not leave the dock making the total starting boats on the second day 34. The wind was stable between 8 and 10 m/s with gusts of 12 m/s. Boat handling and good all round speed paid off, two sailors stood out from the rest. Bo Petersen and André Budzien were battling for the two first spots during the three races on this beautiful Sunday. Benjamin Hammerö was a strong runner up with outstanding upwind speed and solid tactics. The other Swedish sailors did well and Patric Mure was in a strong second, followed by Lars, Håkan and Pontus. There were a few boats turned upside down during the day but all the Swedes did great and kept the boats upright in the heaviest gusts, and through the downwind gybes on the steep waves. An added challenge, especially at the leeward mark, was the planing 5o5s with big spinnakers plowing through the field and “stealing” the wind when you least expected it. I’m sure there were a few close encounters with the Contenders as well but it was all sorted out in sportsmanlike fashion on the race course – of course!
In the evening the Kiel Yacht club and the German OK sailors invited us all for a good BBQ and cold beer. A nice way to meet up with OK sailors from all over northern Europe and New Zealand. It was great to hit the bed after a long day hiking in perfect conditions, warm water and splendid sunshine!
Day 3 – Monday
When we arrived at the boats around nine there was little or no wind and soon the race committee hoisted the AP signal flag. This signal would become a signum for the rest of the Kiel days. The horn would sound and we all looked at the flag pole only to see the AP signal flag be hoisted again instructing us to wait ashore. Benjamin in 3:rd place was eagerly awaiting to get a chance and race in the bright pink bib worn by the 3:rd placed sailor going into day 3. By late afternoon the race committee called an end to the day and we all re-focused on the social agenda. We ended the evening at out favourite Italian restaurant together with Greg Wilcox and Robert Deaves. Many good stories and memories from sailing and a bit of collaborative planning for the next year and crowning event – OK Worlds on the classic waters outside Marstrand.
Day 4 – Tuesday
On the forth day of Kieler Woche the start of the first race was planned for 10:00. A few sailors set out to try to reach the race area but what little wind had been blowing in the early hours of they day had soon vanished. The Kiel bay soon looked like a mirror with a few scratches made by powerboats pulling wakes boards and water-skiers. It was time to pack up the boats and hand in the RFID bracelets used to check in and out. We all agreed that it was a shame that we did not get more than three races but we promised to back again next year. If all plans materialise and the pandemic does not pose new sanctions we will be back already in mid of June 2022.
A big thanks to all the organisers and all volunteers that made it possible for all sailors to enjoy a professional regatta on and off the water!
On the water photos are courtesy of Robert Deaves – ROBERTDEAVES.UK