Kiel Week is always an amazing production. It is the largest sailing event in the world with 4000 sailors from 50 nations. Onshore there are 3 million visitors to Kiel to watch the racing and enjoy the festivals on shore. Kiel is known for its cold windy and often rainy conditions. The race committee will use every moment of sunlight sending boats out for their first race at 8 PM and not get back to the beach until 1030 as the sun is setting. It is truly a grueling week physically and mentally.
For us, Kiel Week was a great stepping stone from the Medemblik Regatta to the Europeans. It was the first extremely competitive gold fleet that we were in giving us a taste of what the world championships will be like later this summer. Most days we were on the closest race course to shore creating flat and puffy conditions. With short beats and 3 laps, it made for high paced racing that rewarded quick tactical decisions and attention to good mode changes, both of which required quick precise communications.
After our first two days of qualifying racing, we were top fifteen overall... a great start in our first real competitive fleet event. We sent it into Gold fleet eager to learn from tight racing with some top ranked teams.
Several days of 18kt+ gold fleet racing on the course closest to shore had us learning about boat speed an handling very quickly. Storms threatened almost every day, and many of our races were weather affected, with squalls rolling through and shaking the fleet down. One big squall hit us on a last downwind lap to the finish... and we watched the boat below us lose its mast as the winds reached well into the 20s.
Most days in the final series we were leaving the boat park just as the sun was going down, exhausted, more notes than we have room to write down in our notebooks, and ready to attack the next day.
With much learned, we ended our first major regatta in 18th overall in Gold fleet. Onward and upward!
We are now packed up and heading on to Poland for the European Championships in a few weeks.