Titles to be defended at ORC Worlds
Published on July 29th, 2023
There are 119 yachts from 13 nations registered for the 2023 ORC World Championship to be held August 4-12 in Kiel, Germany.
“We are more than satisfied with the quality and quantity,” reports organization manager Eckhard von der Mosel, who managed the 2014 ORC World Championship in Kiel.
All reigning world champions and all medal winners of the 2021 World Championships and European champions from 2022 and 2023 have confirmed their attendance. This large international fleet will compete for the three World Championship titles in Class A (15 entries), Class B (32 entries) and Class C (72 entries).
“Taking into account the shifting trends in sailing, this registration result is really encouraging,” said Eckart Reinke, one of three leaders at the World Championship along with Stefan Kunstmann and Fabian Bach.
“We have a trend now towards adventure races that feature double-handed and single-handed crews that sail hundreds or even thousands of nautical miles. Large adventure races like the Fastnet Race also currently fit into the mega trend of offshore racing. We can therefore interpret the nearly 120 yachts in Kiel for the World Championship as recognition for the German regatta scene.”
The courses have already been tested in advance and the active participants were brought on board to help design them.
“With Kiel Week and at Kiel Yacht Club, we have great experience when it comes to designing offshore courses,” said Reinke. “For example, the long course will be based on the Silbernes Band race that has proven popular at Kiel Week. Coastal races of medium distances and 2-5 hour duration are part of the format, which we tested at the MaiOR and Kiel Week events with feedback from the sailors. With this experience, we then adjusted the course diagrams a bit to be able to offer even better courses for this World Championship to test a wide variety of offshore sailing skills.”
The event has attracted 58 German yachts along with sizeable fleets from the Baltic states, such as Estonia (13) and Lithuania (10), as well as Scandinavia with 17 entries from Denmark and 7 from Sweden. The remainder of the entries are from NOR, NED, POL, LAT, SUI, FIN, GBR, and HKG. Among the entrants, it is notable the number of recent ORC World Champions that seek to defend their titles.
“This may be the first time in the history of this event, which has been held annually since 1999, that the reigning Gold medalists are all assembled for their title defenses at an event in the current year,” said Dobbs Davis, ORC Communications Director.
This includes in Class A Karl Kwok (HKG) with his TP 52 BEAU GESTE; in Class B Marcin Sutkowski (POL) with his GS 44P WINDWHISPER (ex-ESSENTIA 44); and in Class C Ott Kikkas (EST) with his Italia 11.98 SUGAR 3.
While the 2022 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 Class A runner-up OUTSIDER is this time going for Gold. “Our goal is definitely not to be called a perpetual runner-up,” says Bo Teichmann, the 39-year-old project manager who has been sailing with this team for 23 years. To win, five more pros are on board, led by Markus Wieser.
Four TP52s will be racing off Kiel, and in addition to these fastest-rated yachts in Class A, the 2021 World Champion and 2022 European Champion, HALBTROCKEN 4.5, is also one of the top favorites. Skipper Michael Berghorn (GER) is from Hamburg with a talented pro-am crew that includes tactician Jes Gram Hansen (DEN) and match race specialist Frans Hinfelaar (NED).
This team is ranked second in the German ORC best in Class A/B behind the 2022 ORC European Class B champion, Jens Kuphal’s (GER) Landmark 43 INTERMEZZO, a favorite in this class at Kiel.
Class B also features professional talent where some German yachts and their owners are also hoping for a podium finish.
For example, while INTERMEZZO will compete with his regular crew of Robert Stanjek, Phillip Kasüske, and Annie Lusch, they will have a strong rival in skipper Aivar Tuulberg’s (EST) team on his Swan 42 KATARIINA II, who has already won silver and bronze medals at prior ORC World Championships.
In Class C, the Italia 11.98 yachts are among the favorites, with SUGAR 3 loaded with a mixed team of Estonian and Italian talent (including designer Matteo Polli), making them likely to be the team to beat. A total of five Italia 11.98s will start, joined by three Italia 9.98s, including IMMAC FRAM who will be giving their farewell performance.
“The World Championship is our last regatta, after which the yacht will be sold,” explains skipper Kai Mares (GER).
Mares’s team is based in Hamburg and is reducing their involvement in sailing. The average age of the Mares all-amateur crew is 30 years old, meaning that the team is no longer one of the youngsters on the ORC circuit. “We have experienced many beautiful and successful sailing years together since 2017,” Mares said.
This team collected numerous titles in the past several seasons, including a Class C Silver medal at the ORC Worlds in 2018 in The Hague, and this year a Kiel Cup victory and off Travemünde the overall fourth IDM title in Class C/D. This team will be seeking one last success before leaving the game.