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The Who is Who of the ORC Scene in Kiel

The Who is Who of the ORC Scene in Kiel

121 yachts are registered for the ORC World Championship from August 4 to 12 in Kiel. “We are more than satisfied with the quality and quantity,” says a pleased organization manager Eckhard von der Mosel, who already managed the 2014 ORC World Championship in Kiel. All reigning world champions, all medal winners of the 2021 World Championships and European champions from 2022 and 2023 have confirmed their coming. A total of 121 yachts from 13 nations will compete for the three World Championship titles in Class A (15), B (33) and C (73). If it is the first start off Kiel for some active sailors, it means goodbye for others.

“Taking into account the shifts in sailing, this registration result is really good. We have a development in sailing towards adventure trips (double-handed and single-handed or smaller crews cover hundreds or even thousands of nautical miles). Large adventure cruises like the Fastnet Race also currently fit into the mega trend of offshore racing. We can therefore interpret the more than 120 yachts in Kiel for the World Championship as recognition for the German regatta scene,” adds Eckart Reinke, Offshore Chief of Kiel Week and Principle Race Officer of the World Championship. Three of seven race officers at the ORC World Championship in Kiel are Stefan Kunstmann, Dr. Peter Doepgen and Laura Kühlewind.

This year Reinke, who has been chairman of the German Sailing Association’s Sailing Committee since August last year and is regarded as an absolute offshore expert, is again concentrating on race management. The internationally renowned Race Officer has already officiated at four World Championships (2005, 2009, 2014 and 2021). He has also been involved in five European Championships, the America’s Cup, the Farr40 Circuit and race management throughout Europe.
With a view to the ORC World Championship, the courses have already been tested in advance and the active participants were brought on board to help design them. “With Kiel Week and as KYC, we have great experience when it comes to designing offshore courses. For example, the long course will be based on the „Silbernes Band“ popular in Kiel Week. For the „Coastal Races“, medium distances of two to five hours, which will be sailed for the first time in a world championship, we tested the courses at the MaiOR and Kiel Week and obtained feedback from the regatta sailors. With this experience, we then adjusted the course diagrams a bit to be able to offer even better courses for the World Championship,” Reinke explains.

Even if the big hype at the annual offshore regattas in Germany was missing and the number of entries from the MaiOR (30) to the Kiel Cup at the Kiel Week (35) to the IDM during the Travemünder Woche (21) remained rather in the lower to normal range, the ORC World Championship not only attracted German sailors in large numbers to the regatta course. Besides 61 German yachts, fleets from the Baltic States, Estonia (12) Lithuania (10), as well as Scandinavia with eight entries each from Denmark and Sweden complete the field.

And even if the numbers of the 2014 Kiel record ORC World Championship are not cracked, it should be a faster World Championship this time. “It is the idea of ORC sailing to use new materials and new technologies to make boats faster, in other words: To bring innovation to sailing. Whereas in the one-size-fits-all classes, attention is paid to ensuring that all the material is the same, in ORC sailing, particular attention is paid to technological advancement, which then benefits all boats over time. Based on this basic understanding, the entire fleet of racing boats is also becoming faster on average from year to year,” says Reinke, explaining the end development toward increasingly fast yachts. And of the fastest ones are at the start in Kiel. “It’s a who’s who of ORC sailing in Kiel,” says von der Mose 

Defending champion: The “Beau Geste” (TP52/Karl Kwok/Hong Kong) competes for the title defense ahead of Kiel. Photo: Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

With the “Beau Geste” (Karl Kwok/Hong Kong) in Class A, all reigning title defenders are now also at the start of the 2023 ORC World Championship in Kiel. In May, the newly crowned European Champion and reigning World Champion was the last defending champion to confirm their arrival for the Kiel World Championship.

A total of 121 yachts from 13 nations have now registered. In addition to the three reigning World Champion teams from 2022 in Porto Cervo (Italy), all nine medal winners from the 2021 World Championships in Tallinn (Estonia) are also competing.

Defending champion in category B is Catalin Trandafirs (Romania) with his GS 44P “WINDWHISPER 44”. Photo: Alexela-Worlds

“This may be the first time in the history of the ORC World Championship, which has been held annually since 1999, that the reigning gold medalists are all assembled for title defense at an event in the current year,” Dobbs Davis, ORC Communications Director (USA), knows. In Class A, it will be Karl Kwok (Hong Kong) with his TP 52 “Beau Geste”; in Class B, it will be Marcin Sutkowski (Poland) with his GS 44P “WINDWHISPER 44”; and in Class C, Ott Kikkas (Estonia) with his Italia 11.98 “Sugar 3.” Each of them will face strong challengers. There are 15 yachts entered in Class A so far, 33 in Class B and 73 in Class C, for a total of 121 entries – a milestone for an ORC World Championship. “We are pleased that all the defending champions are there. That speaks for Kiel,” said Eckhard von der Mosel, referring to the quality of the entries.

The “Sugar 3” (Ott Kikkas/Estonia/Italy 11.98) is defending champion in category C.
Photo: Alex Turnbull / 2023 ORC European Championship Malta

While the reigning title holders as well as the 2021 world champions will try to repeat their successes, there is one team that does not want a repeat. Two-time runner-up “Outsider” (Teichmann/Hansen/Kiel) is going for gold. “Our goal is definitely not to be called perpetual runner-up,” says Bo Teichmann. The 39-year-old project manager has been sailing with “Outsider” owner Tilmar Hansen (KYC/TP 52) for 23 years. After two World Championship silver medals in 2018 behind “Beau Geste” and in 2021 behind Michael Berghorn with his Mills 45 “Halbtrocken 4.5”, they want to avoid the silver triple and have to leave the two gold medal winners and their conquerors of 2018 and 2021 behind to do so. Five more pros on board, led by Markus Wieser, are expected to help.

The competition is also relying on professionals. For example, Karl Kwok, who will start off Kiel under the flag of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has Gavin Brady on board. The 49-year-old New Zealander has competed in the Olympics and several America’s Cups. Brady was tactician aboard “Tag Heuer” in the 1995 Louis Vuitton Cup, helmsman of “Chessie Racing” in the 1997/98 Whitbread Round the World Race, and sailed Olympic campaigns in the Star Boat. “We are really looking forward to coming to Kiel and defending our title. We’ll also enjoy seeing Tilmar and his team again – they’re good friends and rivals, and we love sailing with them in a championship like this,” Brady said, looking toward Kiel’s ORC Worlds.

A total of four TP52s will be racing off Kiel. In addition to the TP52 yachts, the 2021 World Champion and 2022 European Champion, Michael Berghorn, is one of the top favorites with his Milles 45. The Hamburg native also has other professional reinforcements on board. In addition to tactician Jes Gram Hansen (Denmark), match race specialist Frans Hinfelaar (Netherlands) is in the crew of the “Halbtrocken 4.5”.  At the Travemünder Woche 2023 the crew around Michael Berghorn will be ranked second in the German ORC best in category A/B behind the reigning European champion category B, the “Intermezzo” (Kuphal/Berlin/Landmark 43 mod) (there were only seven yachts at the start in the combined category A/B).

The B and Class also feature professionals and in both Classes German yachts and their owners are also hoping for a podium finish at the ORC World Championship. The “Intermezzo” (Jens Kuphal/Berlin/Landmark 43) is always among the front runners. The European Champion of 2022 will compete in the World Championship with his regular crew of Robert Stanjek, Phillip Kasüske and Annie Lusch. The Guyot team manager will also meet Aviar Tuulberg (Estonia), who has already won silver and bronze at the World Championships with the “Katarina II” (Swan 42).

The world championship is the last appearance of the ” IMMAC-Frahm” (Mares/Dänischenhagen). After that the Italia 9.98 will be sold.
Photo: Christian Beeck

In category C, the Italia 11.98 yachts are among the favorites. First and foremost is the “Sugar 3” (Ott Kikkas /Estonia). On board is the Italia designer Matteo Polli. A total of five Italia 11.98s will start, joined by three Italia 9.98s, including the “IMMAC Fram” (Mares/Dänischenhagen). It is the farewell performance of the IMMAC project. “After the IDM off Travemünde, the World Championship is our last regatta, after which the yacht will be sold,” explains skipper Kai Mares.

Hamburg-based owner IMMAC is reducing its involvement in sailing. And in the meantime, the average age of the Mares crew, which is also listed in the Amateur/Corinthian ranking, is 30 years, meaning that the team is no longer one of the youngsters in the ORC circuit. “We have experienced many beautiful and successful sailing years together since 2017,” Kai Mares looks back. The vice world champion of 2018 collected successes and titles, most recently the Kiel Cup victory and off Travemünde the overall fourth IDM title (category C/D). It should not remain the last success before leaving.

The ORC World Championship off Kiel is supported by partners Sportland Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel.Sailing.City, Sydbank, Gaastra, X-Yachts, North Sails, Pantaenius, Cylops Marine powered by Gotthardt, Kohlhoff, Fachkanzlei für Wassersport Tanis/von der Mosel and NV Charts.

In numbers:

With 17 yachts, the world championship partner X-Yachts provides the largest fleet.
They are followed by Italia yachts with five Italia 11.98s, including the defending Class C champion, and three Italia 9.98s, including the “IMMAC Fram” (2018 runner-up) and the “Patent 4” (2022 German champion), as well as four Landmark 43s, including the “Intermezzo” (2022 European champion). 

Schedule of the World Championship 2023:

  • Friday, August 4 to Saturday, August 5:
    Check-In & Equipment Inspection
  • Sunday, August 6: Equipment Inspection, Practice Race & Opening Ceremony
  • Monday, August 7 until Friday, August 11: Races
  • Wednesday, August 9: Inshore racing: one to three races and/or one Coastal Race, Midweek Event with buffet
  • Thursday, August 10: Inshore racing: one to three races and/or one Coastal Race
  • Friday, August 11: Inshore racing: one to three races and/or one Coastal Race
  • Saturday, August 12: Final race and award ceremony with buffet