Last month in Kiel, Germany, a new IMOCA 60 team emerged with ambitions for the start of The Ocean Race in 2021.
Offshore Team Germany christened its IMOCA 60 ‘Einstein’ at a ceremony timed to coincide with Kiel Week, one of the largest and most important regattas in Europe.
The christening marked the start of a campaign that hopes to bring a German-flagged boat to the start line of The Ocean Race for the first time in 20 years, following the success of the illbruck Challenge, which won the race in 2001-02.
“The build up of our campaign to the Ocean Race 2021/22 is supposed to be the starting signal for a new offshore sailing development in Germany. I immediately was enthusiastic about the idea of spreading the claim #madeingermany again through our participatian in The Ocean Race,” said Michael End, CEO of Offshore Team Germany.
Michael Illbruck, the team principal of the 2001-02 effort, sent a video message to those assembled in Kiel, where he called the dramatic win 20 years ago, “Our moon landing – we have the very best memories of our finish in Kiel.”
Jens Kuphal, Michael End and Robert Stanjek, are the initiators of Offshore Team Germany and in Kiel, the boat was christened by Annie Lush, a two-time veteran of The Ocean Race. Nico Lunven, another veteran of the race was also on hand and sailing with the team.
“At the 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth, Annie and I talked about the chances of participating in The Ocean Race for the first time,” said Robert Stanjek. “In the meantime she has sailed around the world twice and it's great to have Annie in the team. This is the kind of offshore experience we are looking for."
“The concept with Offshore Team Germany is to bring in younger Olympic sailors and performance dinghy sailors from Germany, so they’re really looking for some offshore experience which is where they’ve reached out to some experienced international sailors like myself and Nico (Lunven),” said Lush.
“The goal, as we move towards The Ocean Race, is to work out what it will look like to sail these IMOCA 60 boats fully crewed with five people,” Lush explained.
“We will start to race with a full team in the Fastnet Race,” said Kuphal, the Team Manager. “There is a big fleet of IMOCAs in the Fastnet, but we will be the only ones racing under the fully crewed configuration.”
He says the team, which has already registered its entry with race organisers, will start working on foil design after the race route is announced this summer and after re-configuring the boat as a foiler, will continue with training and team building through 2020 and up to the start of the race.
“For sure I would like to do the next race, because I really enjoyed the one I did,” said Lunven, looking ahead to 2021.
“The Ocean Race is an addiction. You always say it’s the last one, it’s the last one, but it’s really hard to say that,” Lush added, noting her participation would be more complicated as she is a now a new mother. “But I love the sailing and I’m really excited to be part of team Germany right now and helping them on the start of their journey.”