Battle for World Cup gold and a special trophy

They have a special appearance, an unusual origin and bring one of the oldest sailing trophies ever to Travemünde: With the World Championship of the International Canoe (IC), the 135th Travemünde Week (July 19th to 28th, 2024) has a regatta to offer like them is only very rarely held in Germany. Sailors from the USA, Australia and all of Europe are expected to compete in the special class from July 22nd to 27th for World Championship gold and in the team competition for the New York Canoe Club Challenge Trophy, probably the second oldest trophy in global sailing.

The origins of the IC class date back to the 1860s. At that time, the Scottish editor John MacGregor equipped his kayak with a rig, paddled and sailed across the rivers and lakes of Europe in his vehicle called “Rob Roy”. MacGregor later founded the world’s first canoeing club and is considered the forefather of canoeing.

Travemünder Woche Regatta und Festival
Foto: Christian Beeck

The idea of the sailing canoe spilled over from Europe to the USA. The American Canoe Association was founded in 1880 on Lake George in New York State, east of the Great Lakes. Canadians also came to the events, and the events became competitions in which athletes had to prove themselves in paddling and sailing.

These first competitions ultimately resulted in a national competition for the New York Canoe Club Challenge Trophy in 1886. The sailors competed against each other in different sailing canoes, so that the regatta became not only a sporting competition, but also one of the boat designers.

Competition for the New York Canoe Club Challenge Trophy

The rules stipulated that a new competition for this trophy would be sailed in the country of the defending champion against a challenger nation – in keeping with the model of the America’s Cup, the oldest sailing trophy in the world, which was first contested in 1851. The USA was able to defend the cup until 1914, when it went to England. Since then he has been moving back and forth between England and the USA. Sweden (1974) and Australia (2008) were only able to win the pot once each.

The trophy is now being held as part of the World Cup – on the World Cup rest day. In front of Travemünde, the trophy will now be awarded for the 30th time in its 138-year history. And the Germans want to intervene in the action for the first time. Because while the British are the defending champions for the race, the challenger still has to be determined. All nations represented in the International Canoe have the chance to recommend themselves in a team ranking for the duel with Great Britain on the first days of the World Cup. Three boats each then take part in the regatta for a maximum of three races. Only the winner scores points. And the team with two points wins.

The New York Canoe Club Challenge Trophy is to be sailed close to shore on the Media Race Course during Travemünde Week so that the races can be seen by spectators. Then you can also observe the unusual design of the boats. Because the hull shape is still related to the canoe.

You can still see the historical origins of canoeing in the dinghies

Emma Grigull, member of German Class Association

“You can still see the historical origins of canoeing in the dinghies,” reports Emma Grigull from the German class association. Sailing is a separate discipline in the canoe association, but also belongs to the German Sailing Association. “We are now more focused on sailing, as we use the same infrastructure in the clubs as the sailors of the other classes.” And of course there is more technical discussion with the sailors than with the canoeists. “We don’t have any paddles anymore,” says Emma Grigull.

The dimensions of the class are 5.20 meters long and 0.80 to 1.00 meters wide. The fore and main sails have a total area of 10.0 square meters. The weight of the former standard class was 84 kg (ready to sail). The new designs now only have to weigh 54 kg. In the meantime the IC were also equipped with gennakers. But this AC version is rarely sailed in regattas anymore. In contrast, another innovation is now being tested. The class allowed foils at the helm. And significantly higher speeds can be achieved with these underwater wings, says Emma Grigull. “If you master the foils.”