While many of Laser Master sailors began racing sailboats at a very young age, you started racing as a Master. What brought you into the sport, and what keeps you motivated to keep on improving?
My way into sailing was not really traditional. I got interested in sailing as an adult when I moved to Hamburg in 2000. Hamburg is a sailing city, and I came from a non sailing upbringing. Being German, I first acquired a sailing certificate (license).
Sailing for me for the next few years was being on a big boat with friends on weekends. For work I moved to Lagos Nigeria in 2008. The Lagos Yacht Club was the best option for weekend activities, and I became a very keen crew on a Hobie 16 and participated in club-racing.
Back in Hamburg years later, I thought it might be a good idea to learn how to helm a boat, so I joined a local sailing club. As the Hobie 16 is not so popular in Hamburg and I definitely wanted to keep on racing, I moved on to the Laser Bahia, and from there to the Laser Radial.
I guess I would still not be very competitive if I hadn’t met my partner Lutz who is a very keen Laser sailor. Lutz also convinced me to go to Cabarete in January 2013 to get some proper training.
As with every new sport I made great improvements in the first couple of years which kept me going. However, staying motivated when improvements slow down is not so easy. I just like the events, the sailing community, all the new friends, and the occasional good moments during a race.
The Legends age group in Masters events is a constant reminder that there is still a lot of time left to get better. Needless to say, it surely helps that Lutz and I share the same hobby.
You are very dedicated to your role as a European representative at ILCA. How many hours a week do you spend on this task as a volunteer, and what do you feel is your biggest contribution to ILCA?
In 2019 when ILCA had to deal with lots of legal issues I spent roughly 20 hours a week reading quite a lot of documents to get familiar with that ten-year conflict. As a result of this legal struggle Europe was left without the reliable boat and parts supplier we all counted on.
This situation should be corrected soon with the implementation of new builders agreement, but it made me realize that after almost 50 years ILCA will benefit from an update in its constitution and bylaws.
I was appointed together with Nick Page at the last World Council meeting in November, 2019 to work on suggestions for a new constitution and class rules. I am heavily involved with this project, and I think this will be my biggest contribution to the Laser class. We plan to begin asking all sailors around the world for comments and suggestions on the draft changes.
Being a class that is truly run for the benefit of sailors, with clear goals and with easy access to information is our number one priority when formatting the changes and amendments.