Turning back the clock
Turning back the clock "Tutima" competes in the ORC World Championship in Kiel - return after three years
It is the comeback of the year 2023: The “Tutima” (owner Jörg Delecate/watch manufacturer Tutima Glashütte) returns to the championship regatta scene at the ORC World Championship off Kiel (August 4-12). The all-female crew organized by skipper Kirsten Harmstorf-Schönwitz (Mühlenberger Segel-Club/MSC) was an integral part of the offshore scene for over eleven years (2009 to 2020).
Numerous successes and, above all, proof that women can also keep up and win offshore races was the theme of a unique commitment and shook up the mindset of the male-dominated offshore sailing scene. The “Tutima”-dominated headlines from the “Handelsblatt” to those of daily newspapers, outdoor and water sports magazines, and Internet portals: “Pretty in Pink,” “Success is Pink,” and “Sailing is Pink” is just a sample of the media attention this team received more than a decade ago – alluding to the color of the crew’s team gear.
Now there is a reunion of the team with their DK 46 for the ORC World Championship: in 2023, the sailing world will be a little more pink again, at least for nine days. “The World Championship on our own doorstep is a good occasion to reactivate the ‘Tutima’ racing yacht,” says Jörg Delecate, managing director of the watch manufacturer Tutima, based in Glashütte. The family-owned company has also been associated with sailing and Kiel for many years as the official timekeeper of the Kiel Week regattas. “The response to our idea has been extremely positive. The internationally-experienced girls’ crew organized by ‘Tutima’ skipper Kirsten Harmstorf-Schönwitz is highly motivated and everyone is looking forward to seeing them again on the regatta course.”
Kirsten Harmstorf-Schönwitz will compete with the proven crew. “We are really looking forward to the comeback, even though it will almost be a cold start. There will be no pre-race regattas or training sessions. Reactivating the crew was no problem. We still have very close contact and continue to have our Christmas parties together,” the skipper said. The DK 46 will be dusted off, sailed twice, and then it’s off to the races, she said. “A world championship is perhaps a little high on the list, but we will definitely have fun,” says the Hamburg native, who is not setting her sporting expectations too high.
The look back
2020 was her last Kiel Week, the last regatta on the “Tutima”. Kirsten Harmstorf-Schönwitz, nicknamed “Kirsche,” retired after eleven intense years of racing to take care of her family, enjoy some free time, and cruise instead of race. Where it all began eleven years earlier, a uniquely successful campaign came to an end.
“We have experienced beautiful and successful years together, but everything comes to an end one day,” explained Jörg Delecate about Kirsten Harmstorf-Schönwitz’s decision. The DK 46 went into winter storage. “What will follow, we don’t know yet. In any case, we are not looking for ‘just’ a new skipper,” said the Tutima owner in 2020. The sailing scene was thus poorer in 2021 and 2022, Kieler Woche missed the women’s crew in their pink fleece jackets, and the men’s crews had one less strong competing team.
Just a year before their departure, the Hamburg-based women shook up the sailing scene in a big way in 2019 when they took part in the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race. First started in 1925, the 605-nautical-mile race is considered the Olympus of offshore sailing, and was an important part of the prestigious Admiral’s Cup as a long-distance event in the 1970’s – ‘90’s. Since then the race has grown in popularity, and in 2019 the only all-female crew among 390 teams from 29 nations successfully completed the Fastnet Race. This 13-strong “Tutima Sailing Team” reached the finish line in Plymouth after three days, 22 hours and 8 minutes, finishing in a good mid-fleet position. This was a huge success for an amateur team that did not sail professionally and competed without a new boat. The English press stood on its head.
In addition to this impressive trip to Great Britain, it was always the capital of Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, that attracted the “Tutima”. It all began with Kiel Week in 2009 and ended with Kiel Week in 2020 – until now.
“Kiel Week was a beautiful finale, I couldn’t have imagined it better,” said Harmstorf-Schönwitz. Still, it was a farewell that was difficult. “We cried a lot on the last day. The last race was terrible. There were so many last times.” The last start, the last cross, the last downwind course and the last time through the finish. To blow away the gloom, the wind picked up. At the windward mark the skipper looked at the wind indicator, which told her that 34 knots were sweeping the course. Still, they hoisted the spinnaker in a final rush to the finish. “With tears of melancholy, but also at the same time the feeling of happiness that the team is at full strength, everyone gives their full commitment, everything runs and the speed of the Lady carries them all along,” said Kirsten Harmstorf-Schönwitz, who works professionally at the yacht insurer Pantaenius and sails privately on trips with her husband, remaining connected to water sports, las she ooked back two and a half years ago. Now skipper and crew are beaming again.
With successful performances at the major German offshore regattas off Kiel (2016: 3rd place at the IDM), Warnemünde, Travemünde and Helgoland (one 1st, two 2nd and one 3rd place), the women’s crew underlined their skills and left many men behind. Top finishes include fourth overall and runner-up in the Corinthian standings at the 2017 European Championships off Poland. At the 2014 World Championships off Kiel, the “Tutima” finished 15th among 27 starters in ORC Class A.
With the performance and successes of “Tutima”, the awareness in offshore sailing has changed. Women are recognized and taken seriously as competitors and feared.
This was not the case before "Tutima"
As early as 1985, the one-tonner “Rodeo” with twelve female crew members had applied to take part in the Admiral’s Cup, the team world championship for ocean-going sailors. At that time, such a project seemed completely utopian. Marianne Schweer, an IT analyst, had clear words to say to “SPIEGEL” about the project supported by C&A: “Nothing against sponsors. But if someone comes along, picks up good-looking girls who lack competence, then that’s pure marketing.”
And Achim Griese, 1984 Olympic silver medal winner in the Star off Long Beach (USA) with crewman Michael Marcour, described it politely: “A yacht with female crew livens up the scene. But I have a hard time imagining the ladies Admiral’s Cup team going on to great success.” The C&A project was set to run for five years and then expired as planned.
The “Tutima” paved the way for new projects 24 years later.
It was followed by “Akka” (Anke Scheuermann/Gaastra). The ten women competed with the Hotquito-sponsored Finnflyer 36 at the European Championships off Gdansk in 2017, among other events, and finished tenth in ORC Class C. “It’s fun to get the boat under control peu à peu. I also know it the other way around, when it had me under control,” Anke Scheuermann stated in 2017.
The experienced “Tutima” crew finished 4th in Class A in parallel.
In addition to the “Tutima”, the “Rubix” (Eshana Müller/Hamburger SC/X-332) will be another all-female crew competing in Class C at the 2023 World Championships off Kiel. The times of exotic status are over.
In ORC Class B, “Intermezzo” (Landmark 43/Jens Kuphal/Berliner Yacht-Club) will meet three sister ships: the “White Shadow” (Torkyl Valland/Norway), “Esbern Snare” (Martin Meredin/Denmark) and “Madam Grey” (Sampsa Vehkamäki/Finland).
Xen-Festival in ORC Class C: 14 Xs compete in the smallest ORC World Championship class.
Preliminary schedule of the ORC World Championship, August 4-12, 2023:
- Friday, August 4 to Saturday, August 5: Registration & Measurement.
- Sunday, August 6: Practice Race & Opening Ceremony
- Monday, August 7 to Friday, August 11: Races
- Saturday, August 12: Final Races & Prize Giving Ceremony
Text: Hermann Hell