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Submarines and square riggers are out in numbers.

Sailing through life

A few kilometers away in the old Hanseatic city there is an enormous annual festival with some hundreds of thousands of people participating in a four kilometer party www. The Kiel Week organisers seem obsessed with reminding you of the years they take away by posting the birth dates of all skippers and crews with each set of results. Looking back to something Horst Rieckborn at the helm of his J, I remember that he is the oldest J skipper, competing in his 25 th Kiel Week.

Axel is the 39 year old youngster hopping around the cockpit doing all the winching. I reckon that Horst added up the age of his crew and arrived at a number near the year when Beethoven composed his eponymous sonata. My notional job is tactics and navigation up on the rail. Notionally, I speak a form of halting German that becomes abrupt, braking German when things get hectic.


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In all the confusion and fun, I manage to throw a few suggestions in and, as is usual with tacticians, remember making a massive contribution to successes and no contribution to failures. Everything is provided in English and German. While I enjoy the majesty of Brest, the warm welcome of Cork, the thrills of the Solent and the fun of local regattas, Kiel has become my annual highpoint.

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Three things stand out — keen competition, fantastic organisation and good value. Starting with the keen competition, in truth, Kiel Week might be more accurately called the Two Kiel Half-weeks. The first four day regatta comprises various international classes with 2 races on the first day, 3 on the second, 3 on the third and 1 race on the fourth. The second four day regatta comprises the Olympic classes.

Throughout there are classic and offshore races.

Professional committee boat starts in several separate areas are a far cry from the self-centredness of the RYS line at Cowes. The racing is very international. Most of our competitors are top sailors in their own countries. Sailors from over 70 countries are competing in various classes, for example the Chinese windsurfing team. For once a national stereotype has a very positive side — fantastic organisation.

The race results are efficient and timely. There is a wide, varied selection of food, from fast food of all sorts to restaurants. The varied evening entertainments are a wonderful combination of music and humour. One group, United Four, seems to have become an annual double fixture singing cover tunes with an enthusiasm that has an audience of several hundred chanting along till past midnight. Seeing their six and half foot lead singer do a very passable vocal and visual send-up of Britney Spears brings tears, of humour, to your eyes.

Their self-deprecating humour makes you question other German stereotypes. Sure, there are some problems. The committee boat tangled a start of one class with the finish of another, wasting an hour. The tideless Baltic will never match the complexity of the Solent. I think the final word on Kiel ought to go to old-timer Horst, who has seen the racing double in size over the last quarter of a century.

So how did we do? Well to use an old Irish expression, it took a lot of people to beat us. We tried to help them by being too lazy to change up to the genoa when the breeze reduced in one race age you know , or by diving overboard in disgust at having to take a penalty well, I may have not quite understood the German warning that the was about to start. Despite our best efforts, we placed a credible 15 th against the 35 other youngsters. More importantly, we placed our reservation for next year. Michael Mainelli has been racing traditional craft and plastic boats with equal enjoyment for over 30 years.

Michael has been racing at Cowes since , much of that in the Sigma 33 fleet. Since Michael and his wife Elisabeth have owned S. Lady Daphne, see www. Photo: Pre-race Manoeuvres, courtesy Marc Schlossman, www. However, this is fairly common racing patter in the midst of a barge match. Sailing barge history is fascinating both economically and nautically.

Estimates of the number of barges built over the centuries range up to 10, In , there were 2, on the Merchant Navy Register, but numbers were declining such that at the end of World War I there were about 1, barges in trade and by the beginning of World War II only remained. The North Haven Courier. The East Haven Courier. The Sound. Guilford Courier. The Source. Harbor News. Valley Courier. Other Magazines. Latest Headlines. Local Guide. Person of the Week. Advertising Rates. Request Paper Delivery. Voluntary Pay Program. Jobs at Shore Publishing.

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