The Schifffahrtsregatta had been sailed for the 25th time this year and the organisers promised a unique event to celebrate not only the anniversary but also Peter Gast, the founder and organiser of this private event. Yes a private event, not organized by a sailing club or other organisation but by Peter Gast and his employees in his shipping company. It is supposed to be a friendly event between people working in shipping and banking. The entry list reads like the international "who is who" in shipping and ship financing. People from 15 nations took part as far away as from China. The regatta is held annually at the first weekend in September and the waiting list for participants is long. This year the promoters allowed 140 yachts to take part. Famous German Racing Yachts like "Outsider", UCA and others came to sail and celebrate. In the evening abt 1450 people, all dressed up in dark jackets, many with the odd Cowes trousers took part in the traditional walk through the village of Aeroskøbing on the beautiful island of Åro in the south of Denmark.
The evening before the start usually sees big parties in various locations along the banks of the Schlei. Kappeln and Maasholm are in the center of action and the marinas are fully packed with all the beautiful yachts, ranging from many Swans to X-Yachts, Dehler, HANSE, Baltic and other manufacturers who have cruiser/racers in their program. This time there was also a "classic division" as some ship owners keep beautiful classics on the water.
Nevertheless all the partying and get together for people from the same trade usually finds an end on the Friday night around midnight as the regatta, which usually is around 30sm, can be strenuous. And the first start takes place exactly at 09.00h out on the Baltic Sea with a short windward leg and than around some buoys or markers. I wanted to track the course to show you here (and to learn how to do it in Google Earth) but forgot at home to change the "road" chip into the "sea" chip in my Garmin GPS. It was our turn in the IMS group B to have the third start. With four guests on board we were a bit overloaded on the 36 footer with eight people and Kerstin had a handful to organize them. We managed the start quite well but I lost track about my strategic plan. Wanted to tack early as the course was not laid even but got sucked behind a bigger Swan who sailed us out to the left, overstanding the mark by "miles". A tight reach with a 110 percent Jib is not the best course, though we do a lot of barberhauling (out) but boats with big headsails have a clear advantage. Our goal was set on beating a friend on his much modified Swan 48, usually the winner in this IMS class. Whilst he and others sailed a leebow, (?) we tried to catch more breeze with a windward curve and managed to stay not too far away from the leaders in our group. A 6sm upwind put us back into contact and than a long reach with some dying breeze. We hoisted our Code Zero sail which works nice from 45° to 90° apparent wind and were able to pass the Swan and came very close to a nice 40 footer were an old rival of mine from the H-Boat times did sail on.
The wind shifted to the right, we had to hoist the Jib and by barberhauling it we broke the Frederiksen car off from the track. I haven´t seen this before on any boat but two strong guys winching the ropes in managed it. Oh dear, I should have given better and more precise instructions. The provisional repair involved three people on the foredeck with different meanings about how to do it and at the end our 40 footer friends had done a horizon job on us. The repair could not be made on board and we rigged some lines to just pull in the sheet a bit. At the next turning point we could hoist the spinnaker and tried to get some meters back which was rather difficult. We were only able to etch away from the Swan due to finding better pressure closer to the shore. at the end we only managed an 11th out of 14 boats. Results can be found on: http://www.svaoe.de/Archiv2007/schifffahrtsregatta.html. My boat is still "Samantha" the Dehler 36db though my charter had put his name in as skipper. He is the one who brings in the invitation to this much admired regatta.
The party in the evening was outstanding. Illuminated tents, fine dishes and Food, Drinks, Speeches, the various Video clips from past and present, the Music, the Fireworks and the atmosphere. Can you imagine that the organisers had to bring 28 trucksloads to the Danish island where the reguar ferry can only carry three 35ts trucks at a time. All this let you forget that you said to yourself in the moments of trouble and braking parts on your own boat: never again on my boat.
The next day the wind had increased to Bft 6-7 right in the eye and it was a long way home against the wind. Starting with full main we ended up in second reef, all people on board a bit wet and tired but happy from a great weekend. See you again at Schifffahrtsregatta 2008.
Picture 1 shows us leaving the harbour of Åroskøbing. Pic 2 the procession of boats out of the Schlei--Fjord and Pic 3 the tugboat changed into regatta duties.