Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Polarised and non-polarised readers for sailors

Nord Stream Race - A review of the inaugural edition

by Henry Robson on 23 Nov 2012
The fleet of competing boats - Nord Stream Race 2012. onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
It was a just over a year ago that Vladimir Liubomirov, Commodore of The Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg had a dream to set up a one design race having recently finalised his own Swan 60 - Bronenosec. The Yacht Club was only established in 2010 and Liubomirov was keen to revive the traditions that once existed in the famous city where the world's first ever yacht club was founded by Peter the Great.

He came up with an idea to organize a race across the Baltic Sea bridging Russia and Europe through a competitive sailing race - The Nord Stream Race.


The Nord Stream Race was an invitational event for Swan 60s from with five competing crews composing of teams from Europe, France, Germany, Holland and Russia. The race started from Saint Petersburg, stopped at Helsinki, Gotland (Sweden) and finished at Karlskrona (Sweden). Due to high winds the boats then motor sailed to Greifswald (Germany) to complete the 750 nautical mile race following the newly opened Nord Stream pipeline's route into northern Germany.

The five competing Teams were:

• Team Europe skippered by Tim Kröger, sponsored by Nord Stream AG.
• Team France skippered by Jacques Pelletier, sponsored by Stroygazconsulting and represented the Yacht Club de France.
• Team Germany skippered by Thomas Jungblut sponsored by Stroygazmontazh and represented the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein.
• Team Holland skippered by Pieter Keijzer, sponsored by Gazprom International and represented the Royal Netherlands Yacht Club.
• Team Russia skippered by Vladimir Liubomirov representing the Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg, sponsored by Gazprom.

The serious offshore style of this event dictated the type of yacht that can sustain such extremes and leading luxury yacht builder, Nautor's Swan measures up to these criteria. Nautor's Swan is a world leader in luxury sailing yachts exquisitely crafted in Finland, with more than 40 years of experience. The SwanLine range of yachts combines prestige and elegance, with performance and unrivalled build quality.

In 2009 Nautor's Swan launched the Swan 60 to meet the growing demand for a high performance cruiser yacht in this popular size. The design of the yacht has transcended the bridge between classic luxury into modern stunning sophistication and race endurance.

Anders Bertlin, Nautor's Swan Project Manager, summarised the Swan 60 design: 'In terms of the product, it consists of the newest technology, with style and a lightweight construction these are the best materials you can find, in regard to laminates, electrical systems and masts. This is very exciting, the whole race consists of so many factors, people and the passion of boat building is visible in this project and I know the sailors will appreciate the heightened performance that a fully carbon yacht provides.'


The Yacht Club of Saint-Petersburg, as the organising authority, chose the Swan 60 yacht for the inaugural race as this model will offer the crews extraordinary performance within a safe, reliable and proven international race boat. The newly named 'Gazprom Swan 60 Class' yachts were all built at the Nautor's Swan Finnish yard.

Sailors need to unwind in between races and the Nord Stream Race was no different with 80 crew members taking part in the race's first edition, many of whom had not met each other before they sailed the Swan 60s from Helsinki to Saint Petersburg.

Skippers and a few members from each of their crew were invited on a mornings sightseeing in this beautiful city to secure some pre-race photography and interviews. Obvious highlights were The Hermitage and The Church of our Saviour which even in the grey lit up the photographs and our tourists faces.

The organizing authority Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club put on a lavish welcome dinner for all involved with the race the night before the race start. Crews from the different countries were able to mix and meet each other, exchange stories and wish each other luck for the race ahead. Skippers exchanged gifts and guests were treated to a live band whilst enjoying a three course meal and of course an obligatory vodka or two.

Leg One Saint-Petersburg to Helsinki

On Thursday October 18 the boats departed their berths in Saint Petersburg city centre and headed to the mouth of the River Neva for the hugely anticipated start. The fleet were shadowed by a flotilla of media, spectator and sponsors boats as well as two helicopters hovering unnervingly low over the start line to secure the best imagery. Team Russia and then Team Europe were the first two over the line at 15.50 and held their position all the way to the finish outside Helsinki 18 hours later in winds of up to 30 knots.

Team Russia skipper, Vladimir Liubomirov commented on the first victory: 'I am very happy with this result, we have a great crew and have put a lot of effort into team building -everyone knows each other and their roles during the race. It was tough to keep pulling out a lead in front of Team Europe as they were tight on us off the start line but we sailed a great first leg to win it.'

Results Leg One:

Team Russia 5 points
Team Europe 4 points
Team Holland 3 points
Team France 2 points
Team Germany 2 points (Redress Given)

Match Racing

There was no rest for the crews in Helsinki as Match Racing was organized for Saturday 20 in the scenic surroundings of the harbour. In light winds this proved to be hugely popular with all the Teams. For the more inexperienced crews they were able to hone their skills with sail changes, spinnaker drops and plenty of tacking practice. For Team Germany with match racing expert Jesper Radich onboard, this was their chance to show off their skills and they won a closely fought final - edging out Team Russia with Tommaso Chieffi at the helm for the day in the fading light 2-1.

Thomas Jungblut, skipper of Team Germany commented; 'I was hoping we were going to have a good day but I didn't expect to win. It's been a very technical day, involving good starts and quick decisions. We now have a day off tomorrow so my crew deserve a drink tonight. We are delighted to win today's match racing.'

Results Match Racing:

Team Germany first place
Team Russia second place
Team Holland third place
Team Europe fourth place
Team France fifth place

With a long day of Match Racing on the Saturday completed and the first leg finished the day before, Sunday was a welcome lay day for all involved with the Nord Stream Race. The race organisers secured space in the popular Teatre Bar for Saturday night where the crews let their hair down and were shown how to party Finnish style. Judging by the low turnout at the crew photograph on Sunday morning a good night was had by all.

Leg Two Helsinki to Gotland, Sweden

The boats left Helsinki forming a neat procession out of the harbour and then headed to the start in glorious sunshine. Team Germany took the lead around the first buoy and Team France took advantage of Team Europe and Team Holland having a tussle and overtook them as the boats headed into the setting sun. The fading light provided some of the best photography conditions of the trip for onEdition who chased the fleet for over an hour before the boats disappeared into the Baltic night. The conclusion to this Leg was the most closely fought of the whole race with Team Holland surprising everyone and after 30 hours of racing, pipped Team Europe to the line with Tim Kroger's boat finishing one minute and 46 seconds behind in second place.


With many amateur sailors on board Pieter Keijzer was understandably delighted on their arrival into Visby harbour: 'It was such a fantastic race, we made some right decisions in the tactical department, Kalle Coster did a great job for us. The boat moved fast, everyone was working hard and the three of us, with Team Europe and Team Russia were so close together. Between five and 10 miles before the finish Team Europe announced over the radio the gap was only 20 metres, but we managed to pull away when it mattered and it was great to cross the finish line first.'

Results Leg 2 Overall points

Team Holland 12.5 points 15.5
Team Europe 10 points 14
Team Russia 7.5 points 12.5
Team Germany 5 points 7
Team France 2.5 points 4.5

With the weather forecast predicting foul weather the small harbor of Visby was welcome shelter for the boats as were the crew dinners in Hotel Clarion. The Swedish party isle was quiet off season so the hotels and bar were more than happy to accommodate the crews. Team Holland led the charge after their second leg triumph and kept the bar open whilst most others headed for a welcome night's sleep.

Leg Three Gotland to Karlskrona, Sweden

The Organising Authority met at great length ahead of the third and final leg as the weather forecasts predicted severely deteriorating conditions for the third and final leg. The decision was taken with the safety of the boats and their crew to change the finish point of Leg Three to Karlskrona situated on the South East coast of Sweden. This new route, enabled teams to stay closer to Sweden's coast line, sheltering them from what would have been a potentially dangerous passage to Greifswald, as they crossed the Baltic Sea.

With Teams Russia, Europe and Holland all in with a chance to claim the Nord Stream Race Trophy before this leg got underway. Tension was high as the boats left Visby in calm conditions knowing that the wind would increase throughout the day.


The whole fleet were within three nautical miles of each other with only 50 nm before the finish line, but Vladimir Liubomirov was not going to let anyone pass him on board Team Russia and they took the Leg ahead of Team Germany and therefore the trophy and prize fund of 100,000 Euros.

A delighted Liubomirov hailed, 'We sailed a great leg, the water was flat as we were inshore and sheltered - everyone is really pleased to have won. We will most likely split the prize fund between the team as they all worked extremely hard to bring this home for Team Russia, it has been a fantastic race.'


Vladimir Liubomirov, proud skipper of Team Russia commented; 'It was a good leg, the water was flat as we were inshore and sheltered - we even had some sun! Everyone is really pleased to have won, but we are very cold! We will most likely split the prize fund between the team; they all worked extremely hard to bring this home for Team Russia.'

Tommaso Chieffi also reflected on the race; 'It feels great, we are excited to have won, it has been a fantastic event and we have thoroughly enjoyed racing the Swan 60. The conditions were actually really good, but the decision to stay inshore was a good one and made for good racing'

Results Leg 3

Team Russia 15 points
Team Germany 12 points
Team Europe 9 points
Team Holland 6 points
Team France 3 points

Overall Standings

Team Russia 27.5 points
Team Europe 23 points
Team Holland 21.5 points
Team Germany 19 points
Team France 7.5 points

With the boats finishing late in the night, Karlskrona as the penultimate stop was a rest up at the Scandic Hotel before heading to Greifswald for the race conclusion.


The north German town welcomed the boats early on Saturday 27th with Champagne, hot chocolate and a hearty brunch at Hotel Utkiek. The boats then paraded single file up the River to their berths. Prize-giving took place that evening in the town centre at Poro restaurant where Team Russia collected the winner's trophy and cheque. The Crews, VIPs, sponsors and organisers were then able to let their hair down in each others company knowing that the last two weeks had been a resounding success enjoyed by all and started to look forward to the 2013 Nord Stream Nord Stream Race website

InSunSport - NZBarz Optics - Melanin LensesNorth Technology - Southern Spars

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
The importance of being Alive
Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, the team have lined up for a lot of things, won plenty and nabbed a record, as well. She’s presently in a yard in the Philippines having a minor refit in readiness for the Australian season. It will commence with the upcoming Brisbane to Keppel and then head sharply into this year’s Hobart.
Posted on 10 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May