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48 Hours Until the Start of Nord Stream Race 2018
The start of the Nord Stream Race is just 48 hours away (June 24, 15:00hrs CEST). Some of the crew are spending time in Kiel, others are cramming in a couple of days at work before they return to Kiel for the start of Leg 1 to Copenhagen this Sunday.

Kiel, 22 June 2018 – These are the nervous hours before the start of the Nord Stream Race 2018 in Kiel. At 1,000 nautical miles, it is one of the longest offshore races in the annual sailing calendar, and for some of the competitors this will be the longest they have ever spent at sea.

Three days of challenging inshore racing earlier this week at Kieler Woche - the largest sailing regatta in the world - have been a very useful training ground for the five crews as they get used to these powerful ClubSwan 50 racer-cruisers. All five teams have come through the white hot competition of the National Sailing Leagues and have had to win their season in the J/70 league racing in order to qualify for a place on the start line of the Nord Stream Race.

Now they turn their racing skills to a very different kind of challenge as they get to grips with these powerful 50 footers. Norddeutscher Regatta Verein proved to be a class apart, using their previous experience of ClubSwan 50s to win all seven races ahead of Åländska Segelsällskapet from Finland and Kungliga Svenska Segelsällskapet from Sweden; the German margin of victory was a lot less by the end of the three day regatta (June 18-20).

Henrik Lundberg, skipper of the Finnish entry representing Åländska Segelsällskapet, finished second at the Kiel Week inshore regatta and said it had been useful to bring on board the Swedish professional sailor, Patrick Sturesson, who skippered Cape Crow Yacht Club to victory in last year's Nord Stream Race. "Patrick helped speed up our learning curve," said Lundberg, himself a veteran of the Whitbread Round the World Race.
Nord Stream Race © Andrey Sheremetev
Accomplished racers they may be, but some of the sailors have never taken part in offshore racing before. The long days at sea will be a very different challenge to racing J/70 sportsboats around 10- minute race courses in the National Sailing Leagues, which is how these crews qualified for the right to represent their country in the Nord Stream Race. Asked what advice Sturesson would offer to first-time participants in the offshore race, the young Swedish sailor said: "You will get tired and hungry, and you need to know how to work as well as possible even when you feel like you need rest. But you also need to know when to push, and when to hold back a little bit. Last year there were times when we pushed too hard and we learned there are some points where you need to hold back so as not to break stuff.

"You need to get some sleep whenever you can. If it's lighter winds, get some people down below because later in the leg it might be windy and you need to keep the energy up. Last year we didn't eat enough, we had problems cooking our food when we were sailing into the wind. If there's going to be as much upwind as it was last year, it would be a good idea to have more pre-made food that is easy to eat, like sandwiches for example."

It is likely to be a life-changing two weeks for many of these sailors as they compete in the offshore legs that will take them first to Copenhagen, then Stockholm and Helsinki before the final race to the finish in St Petersburg, Russia.
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