Kiel Klassische Woche (Kiel Classic Week) – 14-22 June 2019

(Report from Shane Rankin – Halcyone)

At the 2018 autumn FKY meeting at Lake Starnberg the Garelochs were invited to come to the 2019 Kiel Klassiche Week. Eventually after much toing and froing only Charles Darley and Shane Rankin attended. Charles sailed with Wulf Fiedler on Van Hout a 1963 8m cruiser and Shane sailed with Wilfred Horns on his 1949 11m Piraya.

Klassiche Week is a major event which happens every four years. The 2019 event marked 20 years since the first. It dovetails neatly with the much longer established and even bigger Kiel Sailing week; as Klassiche Week ends, Kiel Week begins.

Around 160 boats took part from the 12 metre Anita and the 23m long Germania VI to Hansa Jolle pocket cruisers and even a 5m open dinghy. Although the big glamourous yachts, the 8, 6, 5.5 metres, and the Skerry cruisers first catch your attention, most of boats are family cruisers, dinghy cruisers, Knarr boats, Dragons, all much loved and cared for.

The week starts with an overnight race to Sønderborg on the Danish island of Als from Kiel, Feman, Flensburgh and Svendborg. Starting at 2130 on Friday from Kiel, Piraya crossed the finish line in Alssund just before mid-day Saturday.

Through the night the wind was light and fickle, dying away for a time, returning about 0300. By dawn there was a large fleet stretching north around the island into Alssund. The wind followed us round into the sound coming abeam eventually, giving us a close reach to the finish. We couldn’t tell who was in which class but there was always someone nearby to race; it made for an interesting finish.

Priaya finished shortly after Mingary, a Mylne ketch, and chummed her and others down the narrow sound to the lifting bridge into Sonderberg harbour. Later that day Charles strode down to the harbour from his train wearing his characteristic white- topped hat, ready to race.

Sunday was racing around buoys off Sonderberg in nine classes in a moderate breeze that died away. The pattern for the week began – race to a picturesque port, next day race off that port, move on, all the way back to Kiel. Gather the boats at the quayside each day and turn it into a spectacle. Eat and drink together, enjoy several varieties of jazz and discuss the day. Every other day there was a prize giving, and a thank you to local officials for hosting and helping us. The occasional novelty event was thrown in – the Arnis Soup tour of 10 restaurants each offering different soups for €3 in Kappelin was a bit of fun as we were led round the town by an Oompah band

Not only was it special to be part of the spectacle of the boats milling about to race, but entering each port as part of this huge fleet was quite a sight. In Kappelin on the Schlei, it took an hour to reach the port from the Baltic. Then we all had to wait for the bridge to lift when we jostled to squeeze through the 30m gap against tourist steamers and work boats.

Remarkably there were few incidents on the water. There was one ugly collision when 12 metre Anita, on starboard, mounted the starboard bulwark of the heavy double ender Gudrun III.

The weather was glorious, but near the end of the race into Eckernforde, well up the fjord, the thunder that had rumbled all afternoon turned into a sudden hail shower. The hailstones were the size of broad beans, the visibility disappeared and the wind rose to 35- 40 knots. We all took a hammering. The 5m dinghy filled and capsized, and capsized again, the 8 metre Feo pulled up, dropped sails and rescued her and her helm. In 15 minutes it was over, the sun came out and we sailed to the finish; several boats retired and motored in.

It was quite an occasion and good to be part of it. The photos on the FKY website capture the bigger glamourous classes, there were many more everyday classics, smaller but beautifully formed too.