Authors: Buttons Padin and Heather Mahady
Over the past two decades, the difference between boats with all or mostly professional crews and Corinthian sailors has become increasingly pronounced. That said, this state of the sport doesn’t mean that a boat raced by a predominantly Corinthian crew can’t be competitive. It’s just that the amateurs need to match the pros’ level of preparedness and work together as a well-oiled machine.
That was the case in the recent ORC Worlds in Kiel, Germany for KATIMA, a modified Swan 45 owned and helmed by Jan Opländer from Flensburger Segel-Club. An older, heavier boat, KATIMA was sailing against a handful of pro-crewed TP 52s plus keenly competitive Fast 40s. One could look at the differences between these boats and leave the dock thinking that KATIMA was going to be cannon fodder, but Jan and the KATIMA crew would soon outperform any critic’s expectations.
The KATIMA crew are all smiles.
KATIMA knew the competition would be stiff but they were up for it. An all-Corinthian crew except for Tim Kröger (veteran of two Volvo Ocean Races) who is the boat captain and the only full pro, and UK Sailmakers Germany’s Stefan Voss as the crew boss. The rest were just really, really good Group 1 sailors including two relative rookies!
Prior to the Worlds, Opländer, Voss, Kroger, and the crew spent considerable time preparing the boat, its systems, and its sails. In the end, the boat was ready for battle as was its sail inventory. All that was important because it was a very windy week with nine races in total: two coastal races in up to 40 knots, six windward/leewards, and one long offshore race.
The team faced a variety of conditions, including two races with wind speeds exceeding 40 kts.
In the end, KATIMA finished a very respectable fifth in ORC A behind three TP 52 and a flat-out Mills 45 racer. Opländer and his sailors, although they were tired after the week, found great satisfaction in their performance finishing close behind the big boys and beating a lot of other hot shots! They were glad they sailed.
And their pre-regatta prep paid off in spades. “We modified the boat from symmetrical to asymmetrical spinnaker sails with fixed bowsprit last winter and it paid off.” Commented Stefan Voss from UK Sailmakers Germany who also oversaw sail trim and speed management. “KATIMA is now faster and has a better rating, especially in light wind, not to mention having far better boat speed downwind.” Nothing broke, their boat handling was more than good enough, and they had the sails to power them against the competition.
KATIMA sailing with her new asymmetrical set up. Photo credit: Tim Kröger.
Working with UK Sailmaker’s Germany, KATIMA’s inventory consisted of the following:
- All upwind sails are Titanium® loadpath sails: light, medium, and heavy jibs with a jib top and a genoa staysail.
- Downwind sails were exclusively UK Matrix A sails: A1.5, A2, A3/4, A5, with a fractional spinnaker staysail.
- All the spinnakers had a zipper on the head and tack for faster sets and they worked flawlessly.
Opländer and Voss worked with UK’s Lead Designer Pat Considine to design these sails for the Worlds and all the sails were made at the UK Sailmakers facility in Hong Kong. Check out the racing section of our website and contact your local UK Sailmakers loft to optimize your inventory.
KATIMA’s UK Sailmakers Titanium mainsail was picture-perfect and performing at its best.
Did it make sense for Opländer to race his older, heavier boat in this World Championship? You bet it did. Crew member Tim Kröger said, “With a twinkle in the eye we can now call ourselves the fastest teak deck in the world”. The team did well, were very competitive, learned a lot in the run-up to and during the Championship, and came away with a regatta full of memories they will never forget. And, heck, maybe it’s the 2024 ORC in Newport, RI next year.
Article Lead Image Credit: Felix Diemer for ORC.
Results of the races here.