Nord Stream Race Leg 3: Fleet Heads Out of Spectacular Stockholm
Among a total fleet of 248 starters in Sweden's famous ÅF Offshore Race, it was a
spectacular Stockholm city send-off for the five crews embarking on Leg 3 of the Nord Stream Race to Helsinki...

Stockholm, 01 July 2018 – Finland won the start of Leg 3 of the Nord Stream Race as the fleet of five ClubSwan 50s joined in the massed start out of Stockholm city centre for the ÅF Offshore Race. While the local Swedish fleet were headed for a race around the island of Gotland, for the Nord Stream Race fleet the next destination is Helsinki, Finland's beautiful capital city.

However, the route between Swedish and Finnish waters is blocked by the prospect of strong, northerly winds and a fierce Baltic Sea. The five crews have scarcely had time to lick their wounds or catch up on sleep since a bruising battle to Stockholm less than 48 hours ago. Some of the crews encountered gale-force northerly winds that battered boats and sailors, and the prospect of heading out into similar conditions is daunting, especially those unfortunate few who are prone to seasickness. However, they will be better prepared this time.
Nord Stream Race © Andrey Sheremetev
The Finnish crew representing Åländska Segelsällskapet bore the brunt of the raging Baltic Sea with some gear failure that included the pulpits being wrenched from the bow after crashing through some particularly nasty waves two days ago. Skipper Staffan Lindberg commented: "Small things can go bad very quickly, that's what happened to us two nights ago. But we've learned our lesson. We should have made changes more quickly when the wind increased."

The first part of Leg 3 is a tactical game navigating the narrow path through Stockholm's labyrinthine archipelago before the fleet breaks through to open water towards Finland. Lindberg, a world-class match racer, was relishing the prospect of a massed start among the 250 entries for the ÅF Offshore Race, Sweden's most famous yacht race. "I have no problem with a lot of boats on the line. It can be an opportunity with all the traffic here. If we can get a good start and the other boats don't, then it could be hard to catch up. Once we get out of the archipelago I'm expecting a long drag race on port tack all the way to Helsinki."

On Saturday the five teams got a taste of racing in through the archipelago when they took part in the ÅF Inshore Race, a 14-mile race around the inner fjords of Stockholm City. The Russians won the start and were never overtaken, Maksim Taranov's team displaying some slick crew work as they responded to every gust and shift swirling across the water.

The Russians also lead in the offshore challenge; Lord of the Sail - Asia took victory on Leg 1 and was the runner-up into Stockholm, putting them on 3 points, while in second is Germany on 5 points, tied with third-placed Sweden also on 5 points.

Under the leadership of Sven-Erik Horsch, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein won the last offshore leg. Now it's up to replacement skipper Niklas von Meyerinck to continue German momentum and see if they can challenge the Russians for the overall lead. Known more simply by his nickname 'Egon', the new skipper commented: "I'm looking forward to this. I've been skipper of other boats but nothing quite like the ClubSwan 50. It's going to be a hard leg, mostly on port tack upwind. The team managed to find good speed in those conditions on the last leg so I feel confident we can do well again."

Christian Harding also steps back on board to skipper the Swedish boat after missing Leg 2. Last year Cape Crow Yacht Club won the race comfortably for Sweden. Harding wants to repeat the honour for his club, Stockholm's famous Kungliga Svenska Segelsällskapet. "We have some work to do if we're going to win the Nord Stream Race this year, but I love a challenge and I think we can do it."
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