Kiel Week – Barwinska edges to top of the ILCA 6

3 Australian sailors in the top 5 ILCA 6, with Mara Stransky leading the charge ahead of Elyse Ainsworth and Evie Saunders. Zac Littlewood leads the big Australian team in 4th. Otto Henry and Ryan Littlechild are the top 49er in 13th.

There are few sailors capable of stringing together good performances across all weather conditions. But Agata Barwinska has proven capable in everything encountered during two very different days at Kiel Week in northern Germany. In Sunday’s light wind races on the race course closest to shore, the Polish sailor made most sense of the tricky ILCA 6 competition. With scores of 1,4 from the day, Barwinska moves to the top of the standings ahead of Denmark’s Anna Munch and Finland’s Monika Mikkola.

These were the only three sailors to keep both scores inside the top 10. Great Britain’s Matilda Nicholls opened the session with a 4th but could only follow with a 22nd, not helped by being given a yellow penalty flag by the on-the-water umpires for excessive kinetics. Nicholls was brutally honest about her shortcomings. “It wasn’t really that I lost that much distance from the yellow flag, it was more that I lost my head,” she laughed. “It doesn’t really help when it’s tricky conditions like that.”

For Nicholls and the majority of the fleet in Kiel, it’s all useful learning in their build-up to the Los Angeles 2028 Games. Having missed out on Olympic selection for Paris 2024, Nicholls appreciates the opportunity of more international competition at Kiel Week in what is otherwise a quite lean second half of the season for top-class regattas. “It’s nice to do one last big regatta before the season ends,” said the British sailor. “Our next big event is the Worlds next year in China.”

For Monday, Nicholls is looking forward to a 180-degree switch in wind direction. “It’s looking like it will be blowing onshore, so hopefully a bit less wacky. I just need to keep up the good starts and keep up the energy because it’s going to be three races and a long sail to the race course.”

ILCA 7

After a stunning opening day with three race wins, Jean Baptiste Bernaz’s Midas touch eluded the Frenchman on Sunday. Scores of 12 and 24 were nothing to write home about, although his stellar scores from day one keep the Frenchman in the lead, just three points ahead of his training partner Hermann Tomasgaard from Norway.

“Unlike day one, today I chose the wrong side of the course for the first shift and it was always hard to come back from that,” admitted the 36-year-old about to represent France at a fifth successive Olympic Games. “It wasn’t a great day for me but it was good to see two French youth sailors having moments at the front today, a good sign for the next generation.”

Norwegian Hermann Tomasgaard climbed up to second Place overall on Sunday in the ILCA 7 class at Kiel Week. Photo: Sascha Klahn
Norwegian Hermann Tomasgaard climbed up to second Place overall on Sunday in the ILCA 7 class at Kiel Week. Photo: Sascha Klahn

Tomasgaard wasn’t entirely satisfied with his performance either. “I was sailing a bit too defensively, not taking the shifts as early as I could,” he admitted, although a 22nd in the first race was followed by a 2nd in the next. “I think it was a bit like that for everyone today, but Jeemin Ha [from Korea] got two good ones.” Indeed he did, Ha’s 5,3 scoreline raising the Korean competitor to sixth overall, one place behind Germany’s medal hope aiming at his third Olympics, Philipp Buhl.

49er

Richard Schultheis and Youenn Bertin from Malta had the most consistent day in the lighter breezes on the 49er skiff course. Scores of 2,1,3 put them just a point off the overall lead which is now held by Denmark’s Frederik Rask and Jakob Precht Jensen who won two races along with a 10th in the other.

Rask said the priorities were massively different from the windier survival racing of the first day. “Yesterday the breeze was more stable and you had to go one way. Today was more shifty and up and down in wind strength, so different challenges.”

Following the disappointment of missing Olympic qualification for Denmark, Rask explained their rationale for racing at Kiel Week. “We’re here because it’s fun sailing and we’ll keep on pushing and make a decision soon about whether we’ll go forward for a 2028 campaign.”

Two former Olympians for Germany, Marcus Baur and Florian Spalteholz, have teamed up for old times’ sake in the 49er. “It was a party joke, ‘let’s sail a 49er at Kiel Week!’,” laughed Baur, who competed in the 49er at the 2000 and 2004 Games. “Some kids were nice enough to lend us a boat so here we are! But we have a combined age of 100 years and most of the teams are less than half our age.”

Spalteholz represented Germany in a Tornado catamaran but had never set foot in a 49er skiff until two training days before Kiel Week. Baur was beginning to wonder if racing in 25 knots and big waves was such a good idea. “Yesterday morning we thought it was a really bad idea but we kept the boat upright so it was pretty good really,” said Baur. “And today we got a 10th in one race and we are loving it. It’s so nice to be back in the 49er again.”

49erFX

Start of the 49erFX fleet. Photo: Christian Beeck
Start of the 49erFX fleet. Photo: Christian Beeck

A number of the leading 49erFX teams fell foul of the U-flag disqualification for starting too early in the last race of the afternoon, including the top teams from day one. Germany’s Anna Barth and Emma Kohlhoff along with Norway’s Pia Dahl Andersen and Nora Edland picked up a big score which puts them back to 4th and 3rd respectively. Instead it’s the winners of the last race of the afternoon, Germany’s Inga-Marie Hoffman and Jill Paland who take up the overall lead.

470

Germany’s Laura Pukropski and Thorben Schlüter defended their overall lead on day 2 at Kiel Week 2024. Photo: Christian Beeck
Germany’s Laura Pukropski and Thorben Schlüter defended their overall lead on day 2 at Kiel Week 2024. Photo: Christian Beeck

Despite not winning a race today, Germany’s Laura Pukropski and Thorben Schlüter are sailing consistently enough to maintain the overall lead in the 470 Mixed fleet. Moving up to second overall are the Ukrainian team, Yehor Samarin and Yelvzaveta Vasylenko.

29er Euro Cup

Brilliant Performance by Poland’s Ewa Lewandowska and Krysztof Królik in the 29er Euro Cup at Kiel Week. Photo: Christian Beeck
Brilliant Performance by Poland’s Ewa Lewandowska and Krysztof Królik in the 29er Euro Cup at Kiel Week. Photo: Christian Beeck

In the 127-strong fleet gathered for the 29er Euro Cup, Poland’s Ewa Lewandowska and Krysztof Królik adapted to the change in conditions magnificently. Dominant in the stronger winds and equally dominant in the lighter stuff, the Polish duo are looking like hot favourites for the week. “We would be really to happy Kiel Week, a big regatta with so much history,” said Lewandowska. “And if we can keep the yellow bibs and take them home with us, that would be great!

Unable to match their performance in the bigger breeze, The Netherlands team, Tjebbe Warmerdam and Lars Ganzevles, slipped from second overall to 24th, although they did at least close out the four-race afternoon with a 2nd. Now moving up to second overall are a Hungarian team, Soma Kis-Szölgyémi and András Sámuel Juhász, with British team James Crossley and Sam Webb a point behind in third overall.

With onshore breeze predicted for Monday, day three of Kiel Week will offer up yet more variety and a whole different set of challenges for sailors in Schilksee.

Written by event reporter Andy Rice

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