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2023 ORC World Championship starts tomorrow with windy Coastal Race

2023 ORC World Championship starts tomorrow with windy Coastal Race

Photo: Christian Beeck / ORC Worlds 2023

Based on a forecast of west-northwest gale-force winds of 25 to over 40 knots in the Kiel Bucht region tomorrow, race managers from Kiel Yacht Club have amended the format of the 2023 ORC World Championship to start with a shorter Coastal Race rather than the Offshore long-distance race. Fifteen teams from five nations will be competing in Class A, 30 entries from 9 nations in Class B, and 68 teams from 12 nations in Class C for a total of 113 entries.

“We decided to make this change for several reasons,” said Principal Race Officer Eckart Reinke. “First, while we want to test the skills of our fleet in navigation and seamanship, we don’t want to do so at the expense of safety of the boat and the crew. Second, this will be a long week of racing in both inshore and offshore formats where we want the teams to be at their best and not compromised by a rough start in extreme conditions. And third, the weather for the remainder of the week look to be quite varied and therefore suitable enough that we will be able to provide an appropriate test of performance to produce three new World Champions of high caliber.” 

Photo: Christian Beeck / ORC Worlds 2023

The Coastal Course options presented are designed as 15-19 miles in length, with the final decision made tomorrow morning in the starting sequence. All classes will start in front of Kiel Yacht Club at Düsternbrook Harbor in the inner part of the Kiel fjord, with Class A to start at 1100, followed in 5-minute intervals by Class B and Class C. With 68 teams entered, Class C will be divided into Yellow and Blue groups, with 34 boats competing against each other and group members re-shuffled daily so that every team will compete against every other team at least once by the close of racing next Saturday 12 August.

Do the sailors agree with this decision? While most prepared all weekend with their storm trysails and other heavy weather sailing gear and techniques to be ready for everything, most were not looking forward to an extended overnight race in gale-force conditions.

“I’ve been a bit of an ostrich about this, keeping my head buried in the sand,” said Gavin Brady (NZL), tactician on Karl Kwok’s TP 52 BEAU GESTE (HKG). “When you see a forecast this extreme, with gusts up to 50 knots, there’s no difference between this and 28 knots on a boat like this where we’re maxed out. I think we’ve evolved in the Mediterranean, Newport and elsewhere around the world in ORC racing to prefer coastal racing and not have to go to Cape Horn [for a serious offshore experience].”

Nonetheless, there were many teams over the weekend unfolding their bright orange storm jibs and storm trysails and setting them up to be ready to deploy. Reef lines were also checked, along with rehearsals for their use too.

“It’s a strange preparation compared to other World Championships,” said Lorenzo Bodini (ITA), tactician on Aivar Tuulberg’s Swan 42 KATARIINA II (EST). “Because for the first time we are trying to sail with a storm sail,” he said while gesturing to the team’s bright red trysail set on their mast at the mooring. “We have to know how to use these sails because when you have to use them on a race it’s not easy. The situation is usually really tough with the high winds and sea state, so it’s better to be prepared.”

“We’re pleased to see such a strong turnout with so many sailors from so many nations represented, as we had at our ORC World Championship here in 2014,” said Bruno Finzi, Chairman of ORC. “We congratulate the organizers from Kiel Yacht Club and their sponsors to have successfully planned this truly world-class event and attracted such a diverse range of amateur and professional teams. By the end of the week our 2023 ORC World Champions will have proven themselves against some of the strongest competition assembled this year in this sector of the sport.”


The ORC World Championship in 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. 

Schedule of the World Championship 2023:

  • 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