Tuesday 6 May 2008

Pickel and Borkowski are Germany's Olympic Star reps. in 2008

by Anne Hinton (Image above shows Pickel and Borkowski competing at the 2008 Star Worlds, copyright FRIED ELLIOTT/www.friedbits.com)

Marc Pickel and Ingo Borkowski are Germany's 2008 Olympic Star boat representatives. Their story is one in which talent and hard work are matched by persistency and determination to win. A good example for all sportsmen and sailors, in New Zealand and elsewhere.

Arguably the best Star boat team in Germany in the lead up to the 2004 Olympics, for which Pickel and Borkowski qualified their country, they missed out on selection for Athens. The lawyers decided, in May 2004, that a written agreement between the teams who were competing for the German Star boat slot should decide the Olympic representatives for Athens, which meant that Alexander Hagan and Jochen Wolfram got the nod. This left Pickel and Borkowski with some unfinished business...

Pickel, from Kiel, is full time, professionally, in the sailing industry, but Borkowski has taken leave of absence from work as a civil servant to concentrate on his sailing. Back in 2000, Borkowski was bowman on the Soling with Jochen Schuemann, and long-time friend, Gunnar Bahr; they took the silver medal at the Sydney Olympics. At that time, Borkowski was taking legal exams alongside the sailing, and Bahr was finishing his degree. In the Soling, they achieved many victories and podium positions in fleet and match racing at European and World Championships. They trained against Stig Westergaard (Denmark), finishing second to Westergaard's first place at the 1999 Worlds in Melbourne. Jesper Bank was tenth in Melbourne, but went on to earn the Danish Soling nomination and win Gold in Sydney.

Schuemann and Westergaard competing in the 1999 Infanta Cristina Trophy, Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Melbourne

Borkowski is quietly spoken and not one to seek the limelight, but still waters run deep with him (a New Zealand comparison could be Dean Barker). Formerly from Potsdam, he was crewing Solings in DDR times, sailing against Schuemann, before joining Schuemann's crew, as reserve for 1996 and then as bowman for the 2000 Olympic Soling campaign. After Sydney, when Schuemann joined Alinghi for the America's Cup, Borkowski took to the Star with Pickel for another shot at the Olympics.

Pickel enjoys every aspect of sailing, has a very positive attitude, and is usually to be found with a big smile on his face. He is a boat builder by profession, and has built a Star boat for the 2008 campaign. Like Borkowski, Pickel sailed on the ILC40 'Astro', to victory in the 1994 Sardinia Cup, and also as crew to a win in the Dragon Gold Cup in 1996. He has sailed Star boats, with different crews, for many years, achieving podium positions, and notable victories, from the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes event to the European Championships in 2000. The Star campaign with Borkowski has Pinta sponsorship, which comes with the motto "desire to win". Their training partners, the USA pairing of John Dane and Austin Sperry, are also China-bound.

Gaining weight for the Star meant that Borkowski has not sailed so much with Bahr, but they joined forces, with Bahr helming, to win the Spring Match Race on the Wannsee, Berlin, in 2003. They were also reunited, briefly, in an H-boat (in which class Borkowski won the 1995 World Championships), helmed by Jochen Schuemann, for Match Race Berlin in 2003, and with Stefan Meister subsequently. Not making the finals, in 2003, Borkowski switched boats, sailing with Markus Wieser and Ebse Magg (subsequently Technical Director of United Internet Team Germany) to win Match Race Berlin when Wieser's middleman, Matti Paschen, had to rush home to Hamburg for the birth of his first child.

Together again, but this time on an H-boat: Schuemann sails with his former Soling crew, although Gunnar Bahr is now on bow and Ingo Borkowski is middleman at Match Race Berlin 2003

Markus Wieser, Eberhard Magg and Ingo Borkowski (standing in for Matti Paschen): winners of Match Race Berlin 2003

The hats worn by Gunnar Bahr (aka Blondie) and Ingo Borkowski, purchased by Ingo's mother some years ago, are as much a feature of Match Race Berlin as the excellent gluehwein, produced in quantity by the Berliner Yacht Club, the fickle lake breezes and the warm hospitality of hosts, the Verein Seglerclub am Wannsee.

Ingo Borkowski, sailing in Match Race Germany 2003, with Matti Paschen (left) and Markus Wieser (right)

In the Star, Pickel and Borkowski gradually climbed the rankings, and have helped to lift the standard of other Star boat sailors in Germany too. Their fifth place at the 2008 World Championships, in tricky conditions, bodes well for a top placing in Qingdao this August.

Pinta Elements Star boat team

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