Russians Win a Close First Leg of Nord Stream Race to Copenhagen
Lord of the Sail - Asia wins the first offshore leg of the Nord Stream Race after a masterful performance in the overnight sprint from Kiel to Copenhagen. After more than 17 hours of nip-and-tuck racing, three boats crossed the finish line less than a minute apart...

Copenhagen, 25 June 2018 – Lord of the Sail - Asia sailed a masterful Leg 1 of the Nord Stream Race to finish at 8.30am this morning in Copenhagen, the Russians crossing more than eight minutes clear of the chasing pack. The next finishers were packed much more tightly, with Sweden crossing in second place. Just 36 seconds later the Danish team finished, with Germany only another 15 seconds back. Bringing up the rear was Finland who finished 17 minutes later.

Russian skipper Sergey Musikhin said: "We're so happy! That was a very tactical leg from Kiel and we're pleased with how we sailed the boat. It was close racing all the way. Even in the moonlight we could see all the other boats the whole time." The key moment for the Russians came during a tight reach. "We were close to the other boats but our steering and trimming was very accurate and we managed to get a small speed advantage and pull clear of the other boats."

There was little opportunity for sleep, with the leg lasting less than 18 hours. This was boat-on-boat, all the way. The five crews had to be awake to every opportunity. Rounding the rocky Danish outcrop called Møn was a key move as Danish skipper Kris Houmann explained. "We were leading at that point, but some of the other boats took a better course. Møn is a very high piece of land and there can be light wind if you go too close, so we took a longer course but it proved to be the wrong
decision. The Russians and the Swedish took a shorter line and it worked for them. That was a mistake but it's hard to make these calls. That's what makes this racing interesting."

Less than 24 hours earlier, Hanna Jonsson had no clue that she was about to take part in the Nord Stream Race. The young Swedish sailor had just competed Kieler Woche racing in the small, highspeed Olympic skiff called the 49erFX. Then she got a call from Swedish skipper Christian Harding to fill in for an injured crewmember. "I knew I was going on the boat about an hour and a half before the start," she said. "It was a great opportunity, I really enjoyed it - even if it was pretty cold this morning before the sun came up. If I get a chance to do this again, why not!"
Nord Stream Race © Andrey Sheremetev
For Åländska Segelsällskapet who finished last, the Finns can take comfort in the fact that there is still a long way to go in this race. Skipper Staffan Lindberg remains upbeat: "There were no real boatspeed differences, I think the fleet is very even, so we just have to get our tactical choices right and I think we'll be fine. We've tried finishing last, now we'll see if we can finish first!"

Despite finishing fourth into Copenhagen - and agonisingly close to the two boats in front - Norddeutscher Regatta Verein holds the overall lead thanks to the Germans' victory in the inshore racing at Kieler Woche last week. On equal points with the leader but second on tiebreak are the Swedes representing Kungliga Svenska Segelsällskapet. The Russians are one point behind in third place, with the Finnish and Danish tied for fourth and fifth overall. At the moment it looks like no one is going to run away with the Nord Stream Race; the teams look very evenly matched.

Since its inception in 2012, the Nord Stream Race has been organised by the Saint Petersburg Yacht Club with the support of Gazprom and Nord Stream AG. At 1,000 nautical miles and following the route of the Nord Stream Pipeline, this has become established as the most demanding and prestigious offshore race in the Baltic region. From Copenhagen the race moves on to Stockholm and Helsinki; from there the final leg is a sprint through the eastern end of the Baltic to the eventual finish in St Petersburg, Russia.

The crews can rest up for the remainder of today, and then they get busy again tomorrow, Tuesday 26 June, for the series of inshore races where media and VIP guests will get the chance to race on board. And then a dinner and prizegiving for Leg 1 and the inshore races in the evening. On Wednesday morning the fleet gets ready for the start of Leg 2, the long passage to Stockholm, Sweden.

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