Nordsteam race underway
The Gazprom Swan 60 Class has begun the 800 nautical mile race across the Baltic Sea, racing from Flensburg, Germany to St Petersburg, Russia in the second edition of the Nord Stream Race.
The five teams - Team Russia, Team Europe, Team Great Britain, Team Germany and Team Turkey - started the race in front of the Yacht Harbour Glücksburg at 1600 hours in the final event on the Gazprom Swan 60 Class Circuit 2013. They will now race for 3-4 days non-stop in the Classes longest offshore race to date.
Winners of the Nord Stream Race 2012 and current Class leaders and World Champions were Team Russia, where crewman Tommaso Chieffi believes the competition will be even higher this year. He commented: “The Nord Stream Race has gone up a notch in terms of competitiveness; people are now used to the boat, they know the boat and the how to race her competitively. The quality of the teams has also increased since last year and we see a number of world class sailors here this year. The fleet is now very evenly matched, as we have seen in the Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship in the summer.
"With the race taking the new format of one long leg, it makes it a proper offshore race which is in line with other offshore races such as the Fastnet Race, the Middle-Sea Race and the Sydney Hobart, although this is actually longer as the majority are around 600nm, this is 800 nm. It is going to be a great race and it will be interesting to see how the teams perform this year.”
Newcomer to the Nord Stream Race, Team Great Britain has a crew of professional and youth sailors; a team with plenty of experience and energy, Skipper Adrian Stead believes that the team is looking good: “We have a great mix of Volvo sailors who raced in the last Volvo Ocean Race so they bring the ocean experience to the team, then we have a number of guys who have raced the RC44 circuit over the past year, we have a good mix.
"The race is looking quite windy to start but it will be downwind for part of the way; I would say the first 150 miles will be intense, there are lots of corners and marks to go around, it will be a busy 20 – 24 hours for the crew, then the course settles down a bit. We want to make sure we have a great start in order to be competitive for the rest of the race. Team Russia, being the current Nord Stream Race holders and World Champions are our biggest competition; they set the bench mark last year. Team Europe is a very well prepared boat with great sailors onboard and Timmy Kroger leading and Team Germany is also very strong; the Turkish team is more unknown at the moment but it will be interesting to see how it will go.”
Team Europe took second place in the Nord Stream Race 2012 and is back with an almost identical team to challenge for the first place position. Skipper Tim Kroger commented: “A straight race, 800 nautical miles is a challenge, a challenge which we want to take on, we think it is a great race. The challenge really starts here in the Flensburger Forde because it is a winding route; we have many corners here to get around so this will be the first obstacle. Then once we are out in the Baltic we have some narrow gaps and islands, there are lots of funny areas which we know about, but then there are also unknown areas, for example when we turn right into the bay towards Russia it can become complicated, so we will see what happens. All teams are very competitive this year with some fantastic world renowned sailors taking part.”
Russian sailors onboard Team Russia, Pavel Savenko and Vladimir Ikonnikov highlight how the end of the race may become a challenge for all of the crews; “The lane coming into Saint-Peterburg is very busy, there will be a lot of commercial ships around. We will need to keep our eyes wide open as we come into Russian waters. It will make it quite tough as we are at the end of a long and tiring offshore race and one of the biggest problems could be avoiding the commercial ships whilst keeping hold of our race position, especially if it is an upwind section, we may see some split of the fleet towards the end as the boats navigate the lanes.”
In the run up to the Nord Stream Race, the Gazprom Swan 60 Class took part in the Nord Stream Inshore Race in the Flensburg harbour on Friday 13th September. After two windward leeward races, Team Germany took first place overall with Team Europe in second place and Team Russia in third. This has given Team Germany confidence and as they currently sit in second place overall in the Class standings, they have every chance of winning the circuit here.