Medal Races were the highlight of the 125th Kieler Woche
Kieler Woche 2019 - it was: nine days of bright sunshine, nine days of wind from light to strong breezes, nine days of sailing on all courses. The anniversary could not have been shinier. In his summary, chief organisation officer Dirk Ramhorst showed great satisfaction.
The 125th Kieler Woche concluded great sailing on the fjord with spectacular medal races in the Olympic classes. Spectators watched live on the big screen in the Olympic Centre how competitors vehemently fought for medals in the six Olympic disciplines.
"Over the past few days, I have spoken to Kieler Woche participants with decades of experience. They said that there has never been such weather in the past 40 years. I can't look back that far, but I definitely haven't experienced a Kieler Woche of this kind in my time," said Ramhorst. The 125th Kieler Woche went from superlative to superlative, oscillated between perfect weather and champagne sailing, offered Caribbean flair and the fjord earned its new nickname "Kielifornia" in the international media.
Full sailing schedule on all the nine days
From Dirk Ramhorst's point of view, the most important indicator for a successful week was the fact that races were sailed on all nine days. "At one point, conditions were close to the limit. Of course, it would be nice to always offer foiling conditions for the Nacra 17, for example. But we have received very positive feedback about our decisions. Even for our late starting time on Friday. After all, the athletes from all over the world come here to sail. And that's what we want to facilitate."
boot Düsseldorf meets Kieler Woche
The German top sailors in the German Sailing Team had reason to celebrate: Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz in the 49erFX class as well as Phillip Kasüske in the Finn class were happy about their top spots on the podium of Kieler Woche 2019. The gold medals in the four other Olympic boat classes went to sailors from Great Britain, New Zealand, Austria and Sweden.
Bad luck for the German Nacra 17 crew
There was loads of action right from the start of the medal race in the Nacra 17 class. While the majority of the fleet crossed the line on port bow, Paul Kohlhoff and Alica Stuhlemmer (Kiel) chose the opposite course and steered their way to the front of the field on the right side of the course. Always, of course, keeping an eye on their competitors, as their chance for gold was solely dependent on the final positions of the Austrians Thomas Zajac/Barbara Matz and the Danes Lin Cenholt/CP Lübeck.
But all hopes for a German victory at Kieler Woche went in a moment. Alica Stuhlemmer slipped from the trapeze and fell between the hulls while trying to find the optimal light wind trim. A moment of shock, as the sharp edges of the foils can cause serious injuries. But Stuhlemmer was able to climb back on board unharmed and the team continued sailing. But it was the end of all hopes for winning a medal. Zajac/Matz made it to first place after all: "Winning Kieler Woche is a big achievement for us. It was incredibly exciting", Zajac and his crew rejoiced.
In the end, the Italians Vittorio Bissaro/Maelle Frascari and the Danes Lin Cenholt/CP Lübeck won silver and bronze. Kohlhoff/Stuhlemmer had to make do with fourth place, Johannes Polgar/Carolina Werner (Hamburg/Kiel) came in tenth.
Tactical masterpiece by Phillip Kasüske in the Finn class
Unlike with the Nacras, the German Sailing Team, the national team of the German Sailing Federation, was able to celebrate gold in the Finn class. Phillip Kasüske (Berlin) started his medal race in second place and gave everything for his chance for gold.
Almost throughout the whole race he sailed in the top five and even moved up to third place at the last mark. The Croatian Milan Vujasinovic, who had been so strong recently, suffered a setback: "I sailed against him in match race mode before the start. He then received a penalty," reported Kasüske about his tactical manoeuvres. So Vujasinovic entered the race late and was the last of the ten Finn finalists at the first mark. In the end, as the second to last in the medal race, he dropped back to fourth place in the overall standings and Kasüske took the gold medal for the German team. Silver went to Ondrej Teply (Czech Republic), bronze to the Australian Jake Lilley. "It was very close up to the finish, because I wasn't allowed to lose too much on Lilley and Teply. But coming in third settled it", Phillip Kasüske happily commented after the race.
The boot Lounge at the Kieler Woche
Exciting photofinish in the 49er FX class
Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz, the 49er FX crew from Berlin, entered their medal race with a comfortable six-point-lead. Thus, the Olympic crew of 2016 started the race in a conservative defensive tactical mode and kept an eye on the fleet. They started the race in the middle of the starting line, quickly found a position with free sailing wind and were able to fully exploit their good boat speed to round the first mark in the top three.
This put the German 49er FX team in the comfortable position to control the Dutch runners-up Willemijn Offerman and Elise de Ruijter in their wake and defend all their attacks at any time. The Germans seemed to have everything well under control, but then took the risk to let Offerman/de Ruijter sail away from them.
At the second windward mark everything still seemed to be settled, but on the final leg towards the finish the Germans allowed the race to turn close once more. The Danes Anne-Julie Schütt and Iben Nielsby sailed well ahead. But there was a photo-finish between the following three boats. In the end, Jurczok/Lorenz lost to the Dutch as well as the second German crew Tina Lutz/Susann Beucke, but their fourth place in the race was enough to win overall. "We are very happy. A medal race is always mentally exhausting. Actually, we wanted to finish in the top three. But now we're happy that it worked out with the victory at Kieler Woche," said helmswoman Victoria Jurczok, and Anika Lorenz added: "It was a cool race"! Silver went to the Netherlands (Offerman/de Ruijter) and bronze to Denmark (Schütt/Nielsby).
It was already clear before the final race that no German teams would make it to the 49er podium although they had performed so well this season so far. When the only GER-team in the medal race, Tim Fischer/Fabian Graf (Hamburg/Berlin), rounded the first mark in tenth place, the focus of the spectators shifted to the international teams.
Justus Schmidt and Max Boehme from Kiel even were condemned to be spectators on their home territory. "In our training before Kieler Woche, we focused mainly on boat speed comparisons with international teams. We knew that this would infringe on our racing performance. But the fact that we would get such a slap in the face, however, was quite crass", commented Schmidt on their 22nd place overall.
However, the performance of the 2016 Olympic champions Peter Burling/Blair Tuke (New Zealand) did not go according to plan, either. The 49er-superstars only finished Kieler Woche in fifth place. Gold went to their compatriots Logan Dunning-Beck/Oscar Gunn, silver to the Poles Lukasz Przybytek/Pawel Kolodzinski and bronze to the British team James Peters/Fynn Sterritt.
Clear victory for Sweden in Laser Radial
The medal race in the women's Olympic single-handed dinghy impressively confirmed the previous top position of Swedish sailor Josefin Olsson. The Stockholm native was at the top of the leaderboard from race one on Wednesday, never gave up her lead and was also the fastest in the final medal race. There was never the slightest doubt about her gold medal. But there was still some position shuffling going on behind her. The Japanese sailor Manami Doi won silver in the final race by finishing second, banning Tuula Tenkanen from Finland to third place. Svenja Weger from Kiel sailed in midfield in the medal race, finishing sixth overall. Pia Kuhlmann (Schaumburg-Lippe) finished tenth.
Superior victory for Cookson in the Laser standard
The British sailor Jack Cookson only managed a mediocre final, but his lead over the competition was large enough to ensure that the gold medal was not in jeopardy. It was certain that he would be on top of the podium at the award ceremony in the afternoon. Next to him, the Swede Wilhelm Kark and Daniel Whiteley ,also from Great Britain, took their places as second and third. Nico Naujock from Berlin finished seventh in a Laser field which missed many of the absolute top sailors due to the upcoming World Championships.