Nord Stream Race underway
The inaugural Nord Stream Race is now underway having started at 15:40 from Saint Petersburg, Russia. For Leg 1 the Swan 60s are currently racing a 198 nautical mile course overnight to Helsinki, Finland. The start took place from the World Heritage site of Tolbuhin Lighthouse, Kronstadt, an important location for Russian mariners.
Speaking on behalf of the Organising Authority, the Yacht Club of Saint Petersburg – Russia just before start time, Vladimir Liubomirov, also skipper of Team Russia, shared his views on this ground breaking offshore race for Russia:
“We are delighted to welcome some of the best sailors from Europe; I think it will be a great ten days of sailing. This first race across the Baltic Sea is important as a lot of regattas are held in the Mediterranean in the summer; we want to show the world Saint Petersburg and Russian sailing. It is important to show everyone that we are able to hold a race of worldwide importance, I am excited by the next few days and want to thank my friends from Europe for coming to our city.”
With winds of 12 knots from 220 degrees at start time, the fleet lined up on starboard with Team Russia closest to the Committee Boat. Team EU found space in the middle of the line tailed by Team France whereas Team Holland chose the pin end.
The race to the first mark was close with Team Russia leading around the windward mark, closely followed by Team Europe, Team Holland and finally Team France. It will be a close contest between Team Europe and Team Russia if the first mark rounding positions continue.
Tim Kroger, Skipper aboard Team Europe, knew his crew were in good shape, commenting, “we are excited to get started today. We had a positive briefing, everyone is on their toes and we will give it a big push as we leave Saint Petersburg for Leg 1. The breeze will keep picking up all day and could reach 20 knots before Helsinki, it is going to be a long reach before we turn towards Helsinki where we head onto a beat for 15 miles and then we should arrive early Friday morning”.
Team Holland has already demonstrated they are a player for a top 3 position in the Nord Stream Race. Pieter Keijzer, Skipper of Team Holland highlighted the predicted challenging conditions of this race, “we are expecting tricky conditions in the Baltic; it is going to be tough at temperatures of minus 5 degrees at points.”
Team Germany was unable to compete in the first leg of the race as the boat incurred damage to the bow thruster during the delivery to Saint Petersburg which presents a potential safety issue. Safety of the competitors is paramount for the Nord Stream Race, hence the Organising Authority's decision not to have Team Germany take part in leg one. Team Germany is currently making their way to Kotka where the boat can be hauled and the repair undertaken. The team will join the fleet for Leg Two to Visby (SWE) which starts on Monday, 22 October at 1300 in Helsinki. Team Germany's Skipper Thomas Jungblut has filed a protest to request a fair resolution for the scoring on this leg and this will be heard by the International Jury during the Helsinki stopover.
Leg 1 of the Nord Stream Race marks just under 200 nautical miles of racing following the route of the new Nord Stream pipeline through the Baltic Sea crossing waters from Russia to Finland. Points from this leg will be carried forward to secure an overall prize fund win of 100,000 Euros.