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International teams on Swan 60 yachts start in Saint Petersburg for ultimate Baltic offshore challenge
June 5, 2016 | St. Petersburg | The battle is on: On Sunday the 5th of June at 12pm local time, talented and dedicated sailing crews took on the Baltic Sea on board of five Swan 60 yachts. The fleet of Nord Stream Invitational Race 2016 left Saint Petersburg/Russia at midday racing the 150 nautical miles of the first leg to the Finnish capital of Helsinki/Finland. After a short stopover the second leg will be started, leading the participants all the way to Warnemünde/Germany – 560 tough nautical miles across the Baltic Sea.
Seeing off the participants with the official race opening ceremony at Saint Petersburg Yacht Club on Saturday was first and foremost Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Management Committee and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom, who honoured the event with his presence. Gazprom is a shareholder of Nord Stream AG, which sponsors the regatta, and of Nord Stream 2 AG, which is supporting the event.
“The course has been prepared; it’s time to get excited about racing!” said Event Director Arne Hirsch. And the teams were excited indeed. This might be for different reasons but they were all very much looking forward to get racing.
One of the newcomers this year are Team Great Britain on board SY PETITE FLAMME with skipper Adrian Lower from Royal Ocean Racing Club. Although they are experienced offshore sailors, the crew have not sailed a regatta in the Baltic Sea before and were looking forward to the challenge: “We are very lucky to have been invited to this unique experience”, said navigator Marc Emerson. Prinz Alexander Prinz zu Schleswig-Holstein, skipper of Team Germany, has competed in the Nord Stream Race before but most of his newly assembled crew on board of SGM have not. However they can rely on a combined amount of sailed miles that would span around the equator several times: “We are living the spirit of the Nord Stream Race by combining experience with young talents. Five of our crew are younger than 25 years; on the other hand our navigator for example has done 15.000 miles in the last year alone.”
Team Finland (TSAAR PETER) are determined racers and have done several campaigns together. The Swan 60 is new to them but they had the chance to get to know it during some training beforehand. “Hopefully we’ll have some advantage from our local knowledge, especially around the Helsinki area”, said skipper Samuli Leisti.
Team Russia and Team Europe are the most experienced on this year’s course. Sergey Borodinov, skipper of BRONENOSEC: “The Swans are tricky yachts, not easy to manoeuvre. Although my team is the youngest I have been with them for three years now and seen them grow and develop. However, at the end of the day, in sports there is always some mistakes and some fortune.” Skipper Tim Kröger and the crew on SPIRIT OF EUROPE are the defending champions: “We love this race and I hope we can do it again but we won’t underestimate the competition. On shore we’re all good friend but on the water we’re fierce competitors.”
Some of the best racers around the Baltic region have been invited by Saint Petersburg Yacht Club, owner of the Swan 60 fleet, in order to underline friendships between countries and to connect people. They consist of a mixture of young talented sailors and experienced offshore professionals, representing some outstanding sailing clubs from different nations. In order to encourage young talents at least three crew members of each team are under the age of 25.
“The forecast is looking much better than a few days ago so now we can expect a very nice race with wind from north or north-westerly direction around a good steady 15 knots, apart from the start itself which looks much lighter”, said Race Officer Stefan Kunstmann. “However, even if the forecast does make you think of a nice and friendly race we are taking the safety of the participants very seriously. In addition to safety inspections that each boat had to undergo before the start, we are very happy to be able to rely on the support of the Maritime Search and Rescue authorities around the Baltic, especially MRCC Bremen, who have been partners of this race for many years and would take charge of any potential search and rescue situation.”
All yachts are equipped with GPS-tracking devices so their progress can be followed at all times via the free race tracker on www.nord-stream-race.com. Nord Stream Invitational Race 2016 is also present on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram with many great photos and videos.