NRV Hamburg wins in nail-bitting final

The Travemünde Woche has just started and the first crews are already celebrating. At the end of the opening weekend, the winners of the up-and-down races on the

The final of the Sailing Champions League at Travemünde Week could hardly have ended on a more exciting note. After a commanding performance and clear victory in the preliminary round, NRV Hamburg entered the final of the top four with one point. Another point would have been enough to win the Final Four. But the Hamburg team around helmsman David Chapman made it exciting. Due to an early start in the first race, the team missed the chance of a quick overall victory. Instead, all three competitors also scored a point in the other races. It was only in the last of the four possible final races that the decision was made - in favour of the NRV team after all.
 
If the Lithuanian team had not cancelled, the NRV would not have competed in the final of the Sailing Champions League (SCL), as the team had not qualified in advance. Equipped with a wild card, the Hamburg team took advantage of the opportunity and came out on top of the field on day two. After that, everything seemed to point to a clear victory for the Hamburg team. But the Champions League has its own laws, the Final Four a special drama, and suddenly everything was set to zero.
 
"We thought it was going to be a relaxed affair in the final because we did so well in the preliminary round," said Florian Thoelen of the NRV team. However, after a false start by the team in the first final race and a win by the Finns, the cards were reshuffled. There was no decision in the second race either. The point went to Denmark. So in the third race of the final, three teams had a chance to win: the NRV, Finland and Denmark. But the tension was not yet turned up high enough. The Swiss also set their win, making the Final Four in the fourth race a showdown for all teams.
 
When the starting signal was given for the fourth race, everything was open. NRV Hamburg, Swiss Regattaclub Bodensee, Roskilde Sejlklub from Denmark and Finnish club Ålandska Segelsällskapet each had their chance at the match point. And it could not have been more exciting. The NRV chose the right side of the course after the start, arrived at the windward mark in top position and seemed to be gaining on the downwind course. But late on, helmsman Chapman set the gybe, steered at an acute angle towards the gate, got pressure and ran out of control. With a lot of effort and a fluttering gennaker, the Hamburgers made it around the buoy. But at the second windward mark, they and the Danes were only chasers. The leading Finns, however, were faced with the problem of who to back up. They decided in favour of the Danes, dismissing the Hamburgers to the other side of the course - and were punished. With a deep gennaker course, Chapman steered towards the finish, put himself directly in front of the Finns and celebrated the first triumph for the NRV in the Champions League with the victory. Finland, Denmark and Switzerland celebrated behind him.
 
"On the downwind course the Danes and Finns covered each other so we were able to pull through on the other side," explained NRV helmsman Chapman, "it was lucky but well deserved." It is the Australian-born sailor's second Champions League final win, but his first with the NRV team. "This win is even more special than the first one with Sydney. That was highly exciting. We started with a mixed team but had to replace Olympic sailor Anastasiya Winkel with Leon Passlack after two days because Anastasiya was called up for duty as a sports soldier," he said, looking forward to celebrating the win with his team in the evening.
 
His NRV team was happy to have had Chapman at the tiller for the Champions League final. "We came very close to winning in St Moritz before, but then came second because David Chapman sailed for Australia and took it all away from us. This time we were lucky to have him on our team. And we did it. We didn't actually qualify for the Champions League, but then we slipped in two days before and started with a wild card. That's how we got our team together. But since everyone in the NRV is sailing at a good level, it didn't matter," said Florian Thoelen, two-time ational champion in the J/70.
 
"League inventor" Oliver Schwall and organiser of the Champions League Final in Travemünde was satisfied with the premiere of the SCL Final in Germany: "That was a great final. You can't get more drama than that. The format, the days in Travemünde - everything was very inspiring, we enjoyed it. It was the very best advertisement for sailing, also for league sailing in other countries."

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