Kieler Woche is the biggest sailing event on the calendar this year. Thousands of sailors take part from all over the globe. I was out there in June competing for Britain in Lasers.
This year saw 60 Laser Standards competing for the Kiel Week title. Four days of racing followed by a non-discardable, double points medal race to finish would crown the champion. Entries were slightly down on last year due to the Laser Worlds happening a week later in Sakaiminato, Japan, but nonetheless this was set to be the biggest sailing event of the year.
The first two days of the event brought medium to strong north westerly winds. The wind was shifting back and forth, which allowed for some strategic gains to be made, but ultimately two awful starts (one each day) cost me a couple of races. Combined with a capsize half way up the first leg in one race, it wasn’t the start to the regatta that I’d hoped for.
Day three’s forecast was a complete change with barely an average over 5 knots predicted. The race officer was hopeful for a late sea breeze through, and postponed racing for 4 hours. After some intense table football tournaments, we waited around in the boat park for the signal to go. We had a short wait under an indefinite postponement, and then we were sent to race.
We sailed out in a dying breeze and by the time we made it to the race course there was near to nothing. After 30 minutes of sitting around on the water it was time to go as a nice 10 knots filled in from the north. This was it - we had one race to get in before the race officer would send us in due to the dying light. I really wanted to execute a good start in this race so I started slightly further away from the biased end in order to give myself more of a shot at a clear lane. Would you believe it? Another mediocre start and I didn’t have the opportunity to get onto the first shift which put me behind from the start. Everyone was sailing reasonably quickly so it was hard to make any places up. I finished with a 32…
I was 22nd going into my last day of the event as in order to make the medal race on the fifth day you had to be in the top 10, this was an unrealistic jump to make. The final day we launched slightly earlier and got out there to be greeted by a nice 5-8 knots. As the wind was coming off the land there were some big pressure differences and 40 degree shifts, this had the potential to really shake up the score board. I was quite riled up and had something to prove on the race course as I wasn’t happy with the week so far and I had 3 races to correct that. After a good start in the first race and good speed around the course I posted a 10. I was relatively happy with this, even if I lost a couple on the last mark just to a bit of bad luck.
The next race I played really well after the start and stood my ground the whole way round the course posting a 5th.
On the final race of the regatta for everyone outside the top 10, I managed to get another good start jumping ahead of the fleet from the start and keeping ahead of the chasing pack. I finished this race with a 9th. On the whole a really good day and I was very glad to put in three good starts and three consistent results. When I looked at the results at the end of the day, I had one of the best performances in the fleet. It was really pleasing to see that I had the potential to truly compete with the top guys in the fleet and knowing that I have the power to turn it on when the regatta isn’t going my way.
I finished the regatta in 12th, just two places off the medal race. It was really nice to find some form at the end of the regatta - unfortunately it was just a little too late. This was my first major competition after finishing my exams at University, so my boat handling was a little rusty, but I was definitely washing that off by the end of the regatta. I’m really looking forward to a solid training block and then the Laser nationals at the end of July up in Scotland. Follow the results from the 29th of July.
Click here to view the results from Kiel.