Nord Stream Race Leg 2: Gale Force Victory in Stockholm for Germany
On Thursday morning Sven-Erik Horsch, skipper of Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, joked that he and his crew needed to win Leg 2 of the Nord Stream Race fleet to restore wounded German pride after the defending World Champions' shock exit from the Football World Cup. True to his word, even if it had been made in jest, Horsch brought the German boat home in first place...

Stockholm, 29 June 2018 – The German crew representing Norddeutscher Regatta Verein have won Leg 2 of the Nord Stream Race after a bruising battle to Stockholm where the northerly winds were gusting up to gale Force 8. Not far behind the winners were the Russian and Swedish teams in second and third. Denmark used storm sails for the final approach to the finish in a bid to preserve equipment. Finland was forced to retire from the leg due to gear failure.

As expected, the conditions became progressively more challenging throughout the leg. When the five ClubSwan 50s ghosted away from the start line at the southern tip of Öland early on Thursday afternoon, there was barely sufficient breeze to get the fleet moving. Most of the afternoon and evening was smooth, pleasant sailing under gennaker. But overnight, as forecast, the wind turned to the north, it increased in strength, and an almighty sea state kicked up.
© Nord Stream Race
"We experienced up to 34 knots of wind," said German skipper Sven-Erik Horsch. "But the bigger problem was the sea state. It was like someone put a huge boiler into the Baltic Sea and it started to heat up the water. That was tough. I've never experienced such a sea state in the Baltic, so we're happy that not much is broken on our boat."

Early in the leg the Germans were vying with Denmark for the lead, but later it was the Russians who moved into the lead. "We had just passed the Russians to leeward and had just taken up the lead when our headsail halyard broke," said Horsch. "It was at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, and it took us about 15 minutes to get the headsail down and get the replacement ready. We couldn't point so well but we found a mode where we were super fast. Everyone was tired but everyone had to
stay on the rail to make maximum weight. So we're very pleased - even with this problem - to come back and find a way around the Russians." Lord of the Sail - Asia finished a few minutes behind Germany, and Swedes another few minutes behind the Russians.

Once the Germans had crossed the finish line at Sandhamn they and the rest of the fleet still had five hours of motoring to complete through the Swedish archipelago before they would be able to relax in Stockholm city centre. Horsch was predicting a lot of dock talk and war stories when the five international crew are reunited on shore this evening.

The biggest war stories are likely to come from the Finnish crew skippered by Staffan Lindberg. The pulpits ripped out of the bow of their boat and the hull started to take on water so Lindberg made the decision to retire and aim for the haven of Nynäshamn to the south of Stockholm. "We are alright apart from a few who are seasick," said Lindberg who predicted 12 hours of motoring before the Finnish boat would finally arrive in Stockholm around 3am on Saturday morning.

Last year's Leg 2 from Copenhagen to Stockholm was a fast, downwind passage. Not so this year which turned into a war of attrition. Horsch said it had been a wise decision of principal race officer Eckart Reinke to move the start from Copenhagen to Öland. "If we had started in Copenhagen, we would have had this kind of hard upwind sailing for two days. Today was more like survival mode than real racing, so we decided to calm down and sail the boat fast but not to push it too hard. We're very thankful to have made it across the finish without too much damage."

After a disappointing fourth place on the first offshore leg from Kiel to Copenhagen, the German team's victory to Stockholm moves Norddeutscher Regatta Verein up to second overall. Lord of the Sail - Asia has been the most consistent so far, with victory on Leg 1 and runner-up to Stockholm. So the Russians sit on 3 points, Germany on 5 points, tied with Sweden also on 5 points. Denmark in fourth place with 7 points and Finland with 10 points in fifth place.
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