505 Worlds – Who will be the 505 King of Kiel?

pic by SAP/Christophe Favreau

pic by SAP/Christophe Favreau

With more than 170 teams entered from 16 nations, including 6 from South Africa, the SAP 505 World Championship will be one of the toughest challenges on the international sailing circuit this year. Racing started on 13 August, and is being hosted by Kieler Yacht Club on the site of the 1972 Olympic Regatta.

The South Africans are:
Alexander & Warwick Ham
Peter & Thomas Funke
Jonathan Ham & Arne Lanatowitz
James Largier & Richard Hutton-squire
Anthony Parker & Ferdinand Holm
Tina Plattner & Mike Martin
Overall so far after day 1 they are lying:
20 Alexander Ham
61 James Largier
62 Tina Plattner
79 Jonathan Ham
79 Peter Funke
79 Anthony Parker

The third biggest Worlds entry in the illustrious 60-year history of the class, the list is peppered with some of the greatest names in the sport. Jørgen Bojsen-Møller may have won an Olympic gold medal in the Flying Dutchman class at the Seoul Games in 1988, but a 505 world title has yet eluded him. Sailing with his brother Jacob, the Danish duo have twice finished runner-up, the last occasion being two years ago at La Rochelle when another Danish skipper – Jan Saugmann – teamed up with German crew Martin Görge to win.

The Danes are proud of their history in this high performance class which took the world by storm when John Westell’s futuristic design was launched in the early 1950s. The four-time Olympic Champion Paul Elvstrom won the World Championships in 1957 and 1958, and the Five-Oh has since become established in every corner of the globe. In recent years, however, it’s the Germans who have dominated the top 10, and the visitors will have a tough time prising the trophy out of their grasp.

In Barbados last year the Germans filled the podium, with Claas Lehmann and Leon Oehme emerging from a very tight battle to take the world title, with Stefan Boehm and Gerald Roos in 2nd place. The surprise was that Wolfgang Hunger and Holger Jess managed only 3rd place. Not a bad result by most people’s standards, but Hunger is the most successful Five-Oh sailor of all time, with five World Championships to his credit. Reunited with his crew Julien Kleiner, who crewed Hunger to victory in 2010 and 2011, can the Kiel skipper win the world title on home waters?

A three-time 470 World Champion, Hunger is closing in on 20 victories at Kiel Week, so no one knows these waters better. But with a busy medical practice to run, Dr Hunger is short on practice, partly due to Kleiner living at the opposite end of the country in Munich. Also, while many of the top teams have updated their boats to the latest design built by Ovington Boats in the UK and fitted out by Holger Jess, Hunger has decided to stick with his tried and tested boat. Will he be missing out on a vital click of boatspeed, or will his sixth sense for sniffing out the breeze be sufficient to secure a sixth world title?

There are plenty of overseas teams who will be coming to Kiel intent on ensuring that Germany doesn’t have it all its own way again. Former World Champions include Howie Hamlin of the USA, crewed by Andy Zinn, Ian Pinnell and Tim Hancock from the UK, and Chris Nicholson of Australia, crewed by Ricky Bridge. Nicholson made his name in the 505 more than 20 years ago when he won the Worlds with his brother Darren in Santa Cruz, California. He since went on to win a hat trick of 49er World Championships and twice represented his country at the Olympics. In the past decade he has established himself as one of the great Volvo Ocean Race sailors, skippering Camper to 2nd overall in the last edition of the round-the-world race two years ago. And if the rumour mill is to be believed, ‘Nico’ is taking the helm again in the forthcoming Volvo Ocean Race starting in just two months’ time. What better way to prepare for a round-the-world race than to compete in the 505 Worlds!

SAP has been a long-term sponsor of the 505 class, and this year again provides the resources for some great media coverage, not least live online coverage and expert commentary from the SAP Sail Cube. For example at the SAP 505 Worlds a few years ago in San Francisco, the SAP Sailing Analytics revealed that in the strong breeze on the Bay, Mike Martin and Jeff Nelson were a full knot faster through the water than their rivals. They duly dominated the regatta. However the contest on the Kiel Fjord is likely to be a more subtle affair of tactics, and an ability to decipher the tricky breeze, and so the SAP Sailing Analytics will be more important than ever in helping spectators and TV commentators understand how and why the winning moves are taking place on the race course.

The competition kicks off in Kiel, Germany on August 13 with the Pre-Worlds Regatta, followed by the SAP 5O5 World Championship from August 16-22.

To follow all the action at: http://www.sap505worlds.com