The Olympic part of the Kieler Woche started with a day for the light-wind sailors, testing tactics. With the sun shining brightly, two races were completed in the shifting winds for the Laser Radial and Laser Standard fleets.
The tension in the women’s Laser Radial fleet is palpable. The Kieler Woche is an important milestone for the European sailors. For the German sailors, it means an opportunity to prove themselves, as Kieler Woche has been chosen as the second national elimination for the Olympic ticket. Svenja Weger was the only German to score points at the World Championships, but this time her rivals got off to better starts. The pressure is growing, especially since the fleet is filled with top-tier athletes. After two races, the Olympic champion and reigning World Champion Marit Bouwmeester (Netherlands) is in the lead, followed by the 2019 World Champion and Olympic bronze medalist Anne-Marie Rindom (Denmark), and Maria Erdi (Hungary) sits in third.
Germany’s Olympic hope Philipp Buhl admitted before the start of Kieler Woche that he does not feel in World Championship form. Even when he’s feeling subpar, Buhl is still showing good speed. With a second and a fifth place after the first day, the reigning World Champion sits in second place overall, just two points behind Italy’s Giovanni Coccoluto who holds the top spot. In third place, one point behind Buhl, is Elliot Hanson, Great Britain’s representative for next year’s Olympic Games.
In addition to sailing at the highest level, the Kieler Woche has traditionally been characterized by a colorful event area in Schilksee. But this year is different and the focus of the event is exclusively on sailing. As the total number of people in the event venue at the Olympic Sailing Centre is limited, the area must be closed to the public. The participants are among themselves with trainers and organizers. Event tents, the Sponsors’ Mile and sales stands will be omitted. The Race Office at the Regattahouse, the boot-Düsseldorf-Club as check-in tent, the Vaasahalle and the area around the Kieler Yacht-Club (KYC) in Düsternbrook are the contact points on land. If necessary, the boat hall of the KYC in Strande will be integrated. Participants, organizers and trainers receive accreditations that are only valid for certain areas.
“These are enormous challenges that we are facing to give the sailors the opportunity to sail a regattas this year as well. The health of all participants is clearly in the foreground. Hygiene regulations and the distance rules would have to be observed,” says Dirk Ramhorst, Head of Organization of the Kieler Woche regattas. Furthermore, the travel regulations to Germany influence the final starting lists.