Finland Takes the First Offshore Leg
The first leg from Kiel to Copenhagen was a nerve-racking start. The five teams of the Nord Stream Race needed a total of 25 hours for their first leg in predominantly calm conditions. The Finns won the duel just ahead of the Danes and the Russians. The Swedes crossed the finish line some way behind the front three, while the Germans were the last to arrive in Copenhagen.

The first leg of the Nord Stream Race turned into a Doldrums contest and tugged mercilessly at the nerves of the sailors. Three hours after the start in Kiel, the race committee decided to call it off. The wind had gone to sleep, a proper sailing race just wasn’t possible. It was only when the wind came up in Monday evening that the race could be restarted off Langeland at 9 p.m. under difficult conditions, and in almost complete darkness. Now nerves of steel would be required. The teams fought their way through impossibly light winds. At the finish it was close. Yesterday, at 3.30 p.m. the Finns from Esbo Segelförening were the first to finish the leg, followed only two minutes later by the Danes from Aarhus Sejlklub, and then six minutes later the Russians from St. Petersburg Yacht Club. The second group from the Swedish Kungliga Svenska Segelsällskapet and the Germans from the Verein Seglerhaus am Wannsee crossed the finish line at Helsingør Castle 30 minutes and 37 minutes later respectively.

Sofia Toroi, main trimmer of the Finnish team, commented: “We really enjoyed the first offshore leg racing in the complete darkness, under the illuminated bridges and with all the lights on shore around us. It was fantastic team-work, considering the current, wind and the weather as a whole. Constantly manoeuvering because of the restricted areas between Kiel and Copenhagen was a challenge. After the second start at night, we were behind and gave absolutely everything to win in the end. We are super happy!”

Peter Warrer, skipper of the Danish crew, said: “It was a fantastic race! We sailed under the stars for quite a while and it was just stunning. It’s amazing sailing with these guys, I really enjoy it - it will be great fun all the way to the end.”

Even if the first leg has shredded the nerves of the sailors, there is no time for rest. Three Inshore Races will be sailed today. Then on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. the start of the second leg off to Stockholm, the longest leg of the longest race in the Baltic Sea, following along the route of the Nord Stream Pipeline. The forecast for the second leg is not so very different, very light winds on the Baltic Sea. Another nerve-shredding test for the five international teams. Whoever wins this year will have worked very hard for the honour of becoming the best yacht club in the Baltic.

Photos: Kristina Riaguzova

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