Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT /

Kiel Week History

from a letter by Peter Johnson in Scuttlebutt #1102

Stars racing at KielWeek in 1938

Kiel Week was established in imitation of Cowes Week, which had been first sailed in 1826. In 1891 the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, bought the unsuccessful British challenger for the America's Cup of 1887, the 109 ft. cutter Thistle, designed by George L. Watson and built in Scotland by Henderson. (The U.S. defender Volunteer had beaten her in two straight races off New York.) Thistle was renamed Meteor, the first of five boats of that famous name.

The Kaiser began to race the yacht each year at Cowes, England, while at the same time visiting his grandmother, Queen Victoria. He decided that Germany should have an equivalent regatta, so in 1895 an annual local rowing and sailing regatta usually held at the end of June was converted with royal patronage into the Kieler Woche (Kiel Week). Meanwhile the Kaiserlicher Yachtclub (Imperial Yacht Club) was formed. It was intended to be equivalent to England's Royal Yacht Squadron.

As a footnote: in August 1945, just three months after cessation of hostilities, the British held a Kiel Week for themselves and their allies: Danes, Norwegians and American forces. Germans were not permitted on the water. It took a few years before this became a fully German regatta and then a finally a race week.

Star Class Participation in the Kieler Woche
The Pre World War II Years - by David Bolles

1931: (7 Races, 7 Entries)
The earliest mention of the Kieler Woche in Star Class literature is to be found in the 1932 Log. 
1. 843 Mia VII - Dr. Andersen 39 
2. 810 Paka - Laeisz & Beyn 33
3. 813 Markab - Fr. & M. Brinckman 30
4. 811 Bambuko - Domizlaff 25
5. 842 Koenigsau - Corps Holastia 23
6. 841 Uzel II - Dr. Lubinus 19
7. 844 Holland - J. & A. Maas D.N.Q.

1933: (7 Races, 7 Entries)
The 1933 Log, while reporting Norddeutsche results for the 1932 season, did not report on the Kieler Woche. The next report appeared in the 1934 Log for the 1933 season:
1. 841 Uzel II - Lubinus 41
2. 907 Hilda II - Giesecke 36
3. 898 Ha-Eff - Broschek-von Heutschler 31
4. 810 Besar - Behncke 21
5. 843 Mia VII - Andersen 17
6. 811 Bambuko - Domizlaff 16
7. 842 Koenigsau - Holsatia-Junghans 16

1934: (7 Races, 8 Entries)
The 1935 Log gives the Kieler Woche results as follows:
1. 907 Hilda II - Giesecke 44
2. 1069 Bremer - Schluessel Weser Y.C. 37
3. 811 Bambuko - Domizlaff & Laeisz 26
4. 841 Uzel - Kieler Segel-Vereinigung 25
5. 810 Besar - Behncke 22
6. 842 Koenigsau - Corps Holsatia 14
7. 843 Barandon - Kaiserliche Y.C. 13
8. 813 Markab - M.. & F. Brinckman 3

The September, 1935 issue of Starlights has an article that reads as following:

Pim Tops Kiel Week Score
Twenty-seven German, four Dutch and two Polish Stars sailed in the Kiel Week regatta at Kiel, June 16th-22nd, and the Hamburger Flotte entries carried away the honors. Pim (#1078), Walter von Hütschler skipper and P.W. Hachman crew, took six first places and one second, while Paka (#1245), sailed by P. Mylius and H. Becker, stood second in the total point list.
The skipper and crew of the third place boat, Bremen (#1069), is not given, but only the owner of the boat, Weser Y.C.

No information has been found about the 1936 Kieler Woche, but the 1937 Log lists Pimm as the winner of the event.
1. - 1078 Pimm Walter von Hütschler HF

1937:  photos of 1937 Kiel Week

The 1938 Log gives only the final standings, noting that there were 7 races and 19 entries. The top three places were:
1. 1276 Gemma - Agostino. Straulino FN
2. 1263 Hilda IV - Theodore Giesecke KF
3. 1159 Moorhex III - Christian Backhaus, Jr. HF

The September, 1938 issue of Stardust and the 1939 Log give the Kieler Woche results again giving only the final standings. There were 7 races and 22 entries. The skipper of the winning yacht is unknown, and only the owner is listed. The top three places were:
1. 1626 - Marinestation der Ostsee GNN
2. 1570 - Hans-Joachim Weise BF
3. 1539 - Regia Accademia Navale RAN

For 1939 neither Starlights nor the 1940 Log carried reports of the 1939 Kieler Woche. However, Otto Schlenzka, Commodore of Kieler Yacht Club, has been kind enough to research this and found that Renato d'Ottaviano won the event. These were 7 races and 25 entries. D'Ottaviano scored firsts in races 2, 3 and 4, and seconds in races 5, 6 and 7.

1. 1540 Polluce - Renato d'Ottaviano FN

A note about the 1939 Kieler Woche by Renato d'Ottaviano (written by him in 1999, two years before his death.)
The first race was a disaster: we had little understanding of the racecourse and the bad weather raised a spray, which blowing into the eyes, did not help us to spot the famous buoys.

For the second day's race things went better and the wind was more manageable. I won over 24 participants, rivals who were among the best sailors of Europe. My crew Giuseppe Bignami and I couldn't believe it! The Polluce, that was the name of my Star, had behaved wonderfully well!

In the following races I obtained another two first places, followed by three second places. I had won all the cups reserved for Stars. Silver goblets and plates.

Today, a part of the prizes are still in my possession, but I lost several of them during the war because of the foolish idea to having some of them placed onboard the cruiser "Fiume". Those trophies went to the bottom of the sea with the cruiser. Some other trophies later I placed onboard the "Da Mosto". With the lost of that ship, another part of my prizes went to cheer the fishes. I was almost included this time, but fortunately was rescued. Between the remained goblets, one I particularly liked: it has the shape of a shaker, bearing in the center: TO THE BEST FOREIGN HELMSMAN, in German:

After Kieler Woche I went to Helsinki in order to represent the Italian Navy in the world championship between the Navies. Argentina, Denmark, France, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy and United States participated. At this championship there were three races. I won the first two races and was fourth in the third race. The result was that I was widely hailed for winning the event. With this new victory and a beautiful goblet, I went back to Italy.

About my crew at Kiel: His name was Giuseppe Bignami, a fantastic officer who disappeared during the war and was decorated with the highest award, the "Medaglia d'Oro al Valor Militare".

For the years 1940-1948 Star did not sail in the Kieler Woche. It was not until 1949 that Star participation in the event resumed. The present listing in the Star Class Logs begin with that date.

(The editor would like to thank Otto Schlenzka, Gregorio d'Ottaviano and Marc Müller for their aid in researching the information for this article.)