Sometimes a very fit Viking can cause problems in the qualifying races. In 1983 Gerhard Hingsen and his brother Sven from Hannover caught all the boats in the third race of the 21-30 canoe class qualifying and took great pleasure in hitting all the contestants. These people complained that the Vikings in other races hadn’t been as fit but the judges just ruled this as the luck of the draw and threw out the complaint. The Hingsens were used in the final too but met their match when they were beaten with oars by the Schmidt brothers from Bremen, who went on to win the 21-30 canoe class for the second year in succession.
The person with the most wins is Thomas Grobler from Munich, who won the rowing boat contest 11 times in two different ages ranges between 1998 and 2011, although he didn’t start to win straightaway: “No, in the first two years I entered in 95 and 96 the Vikings got me before the end, although I knew I was improving because the first year was after 4 miles and the second year after 7 miles, almost in sight of the finish line, which was really upsetting. It’s great fun but the final is the most difficult race as you have to row hard right away because those Vikings move quickly and three minutes is not much time for us to get away from them.” Alex Bengsten has won 10 titles, five in canoes and five in fishing boats, making him the only person to win five times in two different categories. He was also never caught by the Vikings in any race.
There have been a number of spectacular crashes particularly on the Muehlenbrucke, which is a slight bottleneck especially for the fishing boats. In 1998 the over 31 race in this category had to be abandoned when the boats in the lead clashed oars and fell off their wheels covering the road with debris and causing punctures for the other boats in the race. Of course, this meant the Vikings were able to axe all the contestants and no one won anything.