Langenargen, Germany (18 May 2013): Germany’s greatest sailor was in Langenargen yesterday as an ambassador for adidas – the sportswear giant is premiering its first performance sailing collection at Match Race Germany.
Originally from East Germany Jochen Schümann won gold in the Finn heavyweight men’s singlehander at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976. His longest tenure though was in the Soling when he secured a further three Olympic medals: two golds and one silver. His final two - gold in Savannah in 1996 and silver four years later in Sydney - came after match racing was introduced to the latter half of the Soling event at the Games.
Schümann spent most of the 2000s as Sports Director for Ernesto Bertarelli’s Swiss America’s Cup campaign, winning in 2003 in New Zealand and then successfully defending the 32nd America’s Cup in Valencia in 2007.
It was after the 2003 event that Schümann campaigned the World Match Racing Tour with an Alinghi team, to help hone the Swiss sailing team’s skills in the build up to the Acts that preceded the 32nd AC.
It was around this time that Schümann reckons he last competed at Match Race Germany. “I didn’t win it,” the tall, fit, 58-year-old match racing legend admits, racking his brain. “It is a difficult venue with very little breeze normally. But I really appreciate the big efforts of the Magg family and the Match Race Centre to keep up a top international event here on Lake Constance - that is very good,” he adds, referring to Rudi and son Eberhard Magg, who run the Match Centre Germany in Langenargen and who founded Match Race Germany 16 years ago. “The city is supporting it very well too. It is good to have one of these events in Germany.”
The Alpari World Match Racing Tour has certainly changed in the decade since Schümann last competed in it. All the skippers seem to have got younger for example. In all seriousness, there are certainly more skippers in their 20s than there were in his day.
Schümann observes that the whole landscape for match racing has changed over this period. “There is no match racing in the Olympics and there’s no match racing really in the America’s Cup anymore,” he says. So today the Alpari World Match Racing Tour represents the pinnacle of what is sailing’s most aggressively competitive parts.
“Still the best match racers are here and match racing is a great discipline in sailing,” Schumann says. “I think it is very helpful as a training tool for every racing sailor because all the details, all the action - sailing the boat fast, making the right manoeuvres, getting a good start, etc - are compressed into a short time under the permanent influence of a strong opponent.
“Match racing is a great sport with a lot of emotions – and even controlling the emotions are important I think: you have to respect the umpires and the tricky moves of your opponent. And it is really good fun.”