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16 / 10 / 2013

21. Berlin Match Race (1.-3. November 2013): More sport, less show

Established in 1992 and running for the 21st time, the Verein Seglerhaus am Wannsee will be hosting once again the prestigious Berlin Match Race as an ISAF Grade 2 event this year.

Thus the Berlin Match Race is the oldest match race event in Germany. With racing commencing on November 1st throughout November 3rd sailors and spectators are certain to experience once again spectacular duels, boat against boat, on Lake Wannsee.

The event line up looks promising as ever with the following skippers expected to battle it out in 2013:


Keith Swinton from Australia and Mathieu Richard from France, currently sitting on 3rd and 5th place in the ISAF Match Racing World Ranking list, will be the teams to beat in Berlin.

Whilst Swinton is returning as the current defender of the Berlin Match after his victory in 2011, the former leader of the ISAF World Ranking list Richard (2007-2009 ) is looking forward to add a Berlin Match Race title to his sailing vita.  However it certainly won’t be easy for both skippers and their teams, considering the high caliber of competition.

Entering the World Rankings in 8th position for the first time, Nicolai Sehested (DEN ) is  returning to Berlin with clear ambitions: The TREFORE Match Race team has set itself the goal of becoming the best team in the world. To achieve their goal they need to keep the momentum going and add more wins to their scorecard – which leads us to the ultimate question – can they deliver at Lake Wannsee?

Another fierce competitor is Staffan Lindberg from Finland, currently sitting on 15th in the World Rankings, being the oldest skipper in this year’s event line up.

However after six appearances he is most familiar with the Berlin Match Race and its challenging racing conditions on Lake Wannsee. Having climbed the podium twice as runner up in 1998 and 3rd in 2000, he is now keen to take the title at his 7th attempt.

With a total of 7 out of 10 skippers featured in the Top 16 in the World Rankings, Przemek Tarnacki (POL ), Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN ) and Eric Monnin (SUI ) along with their strong teams are certain to spice up the competition.

Known to have tricky conditions in November on Lake Wannsee, where wind shifts and pressure differences are so important for the game, we are expecting many lead changes where each team has a chance to play up front. This brings the only German competitor Felix Öhme into the game. Öhme from NRV Match Race Team is perhaps one of the most active match racers of the field, training weekly with his team on Lake Alster in Hamburg. We are yet to find out if his long hours of hard match racing training on a lake similar to Wannsee will eventually pay off.

 A new rookie to take on the Berlin Match Race is Philip Bendon who is yet to earn his spot in the professional match racing circuit and about to enter the top 100 of the World Rankings. However Bendon was most recently crowned 2013 EUROSAF Youth European Match Racing Champion after defeating Mark Lees (GBR) in the Grand Final, who sits on 26th in the World Rankings and completes this year’s event line up. It’s most likely we will see a nice revenge for these young guns on Lake Wannsee.

Last year the OA of the Berlin Match Race embraced the London 2012 Olympic spirit by running the event ungraded, with a mixture of fleet and match racing. The event was renamed "Sailing Team Germany meets Berlin Match Race” with each team consisting of past or present Olympic sailing crews representing their class. Additionally each skipper was asked to recruit an Olympic medalist of other sports from Berlin to spice up the Olympic flavor and introduce them to the world of sailing. 

This year the Berlin Match Race will return in full strength as an ISAF Grade 2 event with solid match racing.

Following the hype of the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco with foiling match races at 40knts + boat speed, it has not only taken sailing to a completely new level but also excited the world of sailing like no other event before. With such a high caliber of teams on the start line of the 21st Berlin Match Race, there are important points to be earned for the World Rankings that can potentially open the door for the next America’s Cup campaign.

The skippers and their teams are hungry for it. And we are thrilled and expect: More sports, less sport.

© Aline VanHaren