Austria's sailors are going on the offensive. Just two weeks ago, the VO65 yacht of The Austrian Ocean Race project in Portopiccolo - note the names - was launched by the ski legend FRANZ Klammer and the Carinthian governor Dr. Peter KAISER - christened "Sisi" on October 11th. Immediately afterwards, the crew started the world's largest regatt Barcolana. In order to then successfully take part in the Rolex Middle SeRace. The Austrians are not messing about at the moment, they are padded dynamically. Under the leadership of project co-initiator Oliver Kobale and Christian Kargl, who had recently won the historically first European championship in the Olympic discipline Mixed Offshore from 2024 with his co-skipper LisBerger, the bright blue painted "Sisi" sailed in the Rolex Middle SeRace after an exciting race as the best VO65 in eighth place in the IRC-1 classification. At the same time, the crew already indicated their fighting skills and, among others, left two direct competitors behind them with the VO65 "Sailing Poland" and the VO70 "Green Dragon", despite some shortfalls in the meantime.
The team passed the first long test with "Sisi" in the Rolex Middle SeRace with flying colors
The new "Empress of the Oceans" will take part in The Ocean Race from autumn 2021 and sail around the world under the Austrian flag. The project initiators come from Vienna, Villach and Tyrol. It is above all young ocean sailors who make sailing fans dream large-scale in their homeland: Raphael Hussl, 23, Konstantin Kobale, 23, Julian Kircher, 33, and Oliver Kobale, 20, inspire their compatriots with a completely new ocean race perspective. The promising lightning start was also made possible by the first known partners such as Candidate Sailing as part of Schneider Holding, which has already made it possible for the same sailors to start in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup and are now back among the sponsors from the very beginning. Also on board is the Blue-2-Sailing Academy, run by Julian Kircher and a partner, as well as the safety, electronics and rigging outfitter 2Sail from Mini-Transat-Ass, mixed offshore European champion and extreme athlete Christian Kargl. The team's home port is MarinPortopiccolo on the Gulf of Trieste.
The new pride of the Austrians is called "Sisi"
The team name in the sail
The driving force and visionary of the prospective circumnavigators is Julian Kircher from the Union Yacht Club Wörthersee. The multiple national champion, match racer and league sailor and his ambitious group had already negotiated with Ocean Race managing director Richard Mason in March of this year. Kircher himself gave the presentation, which was so well received by Mason that the sales contracts for the boat were in the mail just a week later. The Austrians took over the boat in Lisbon at the beginning of August. Why did you vote for the former "Vestas", whose collision with a fishing boat on January 18, 2018 is still in the memory of many fans because a Chinese fisherman was killed in the process? Kircher explains: "We had a choice of several boats early on, but for us it was obvious. We knew that some boats had delamination problems. And 'Dongfeng' in particular was pushed a lot in the Southern Ocean. Ours Boat, on the other hand, has been sailed comparatively little and is therefore in the best condition."
The "Sisi" christening with the godparents Franz Klammer and Peter Kaiser as well as the sailing team and their guests
As coaches, Hans Spitzauer and Christian Binder also support the young team, which is made up of Austrian Youth America's Cup participants, Olympic sailors, world champions in different boat classes and top players in the Bundesliga and Champions League. In addition to the initiators, these include AnnLuschan and MajSiegenthaler. In addition, the four-time Olympian Niko Resch inspires the team in areas such as sustainability. In total, the team consists of around 30 members from five nations in this early phase.
A short clip about the team's departure phase
The Austrians gave this picture the title "Teamwork is Dreamwork"
Julian Kircher puts the chances of making it to the starting line as a team already officially registered for the race at 75 percent. The optimistic assessment is based on his knowledge of concrete negotiations with two potential main sponsors "who know these numbers". The already active partners make no unrealistic claims to victory for the team, consider their commitment as long-term and attach importance to the fact that the youngsters are integrated and trained. The heads of the campaign also agree on this. Kircher says: "We will bring in three to four international professionals because we need their know-how for sustainable development."
An alternative possible start in the new second Imoca division of the Ocean Race was never an option for the ambitious alpine sailors. "That means you would have to build a new one in order to keep up. With a used boat you would rather make yourself into a shooting gallery figure. We are certainly not aiming for victory immediately, but at least a good midfield position," explains Kircher, who accepts the huge challenge and support of his family fulfilled a long-cherished childhood dream. "If you look at the fantastic and growing popularity from the population that we are currently receiving, then we are more than confident. Because that is amazing."
The sailors from the Austrian Ocean Race project on board the recently baptized "Sisi"