Jochen Schuemann, the man with the eyes of ice… The ultimate sailing legend produced by the DDR, the Deutche Democratiche Repubblic.
He won three gold, one in 1976 in the Finn, then two in Soling, and in Sydney 2000, at age 48, he clinched silver also in Soling after an epic battle against Jesper Bank. One unbelievable track record for somebody coming from the Muggelsee, in east Berlin. The east germans had a professional approach from day one to sailing, they built their own boats and prepared their sailors in every possible way. I still remember myself enjoying the reading of one of their books which started with the value of sport in communist society to follow through all aspects of the sport including windage and a lot of technical considerations in sailing. Long before doping controls were introduced the east germans decided that steroids were negative for the peformance in sailing as feeling and mental endurance were getting jeopardized.
The DDR sailors were always hard workers but clean and lean, with great endurance and, more than anything, lots of training. At the beginning of my career they were training all March in Garda, staying at the mitical Hotel Angelini. I asked if I could train with them and they let me to do it. Speaking german made it easy. These were very tough years for me, I was not all that well but I made great friendship with them and learned a lot.
They did not have permission to do anything else than training. While Jochen Schuemann and his coach Bernd Demel, the legends of the team, both one week were sailing Genoa Week, the other Finn guys came to me and asked for help to buy train tickets for a secret and seeverly forbidden trip to Venice. They wanted to see the magic city. I helped them out, but those were really completely different times.
Jochen was strong and determined, well prepared, balanced and perfect. The perfect sailor from a different but ultra professional school from times that nowadays feel prehistorical, but with a magic that was unique.
Born June 8th 1954, East Berlin, GER (former DDR)
1976 Montreal/Kingston Gold Finn
1988 Seoul/Pusan Gold Soling
1996 Atlanta/Savannah Gold Soling
2000 Sydney Silver Soling
America’s Cup winner 2003 and 2007 with Alinghi