by John Friend
Eurosaf Match Racing - European Open Championship 2013 was supposed to start on Thursday 30th May, with all the teams competing in the first round-robin series. Unfortunately, someone forgot to turn on the wind sufficiently to permit the boats to sail against what is a strong current in the River Neva here in St Petersburg, so not a single race was started, let alone finished.
Competitors at the Open Ceremony - EUROSAF Match Racing, Open European Championship 2013
Zayachy Island, the location of the famous Petropavlovskay (Peter and Paul) Fortress, where the Tsars of Russia are buried, is the base for this Championship. The fortress was built by Peter the Great in 1703, to defend the Russians from the Swedes, but yesterday it was the backdrop for the official opening ceremony of this European Championship. Amongst the guests at the open ceremony was Jerome Pels, Chief Executive of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), who is in St Petersburg for the SportAccord Convention, but was able to join all the other dignitaries and the sailors at the ceremony. Apart from the usual opening speeches, those present were entertained by some fantastic modern dancing, performed by some young Russian dancers, with great vigour and energy. Sailors and spectators alike, where also introduced to the impressive National Congress Palace Cup, which will be presented to the winning skipper, along with the more modest, but equally impressive Piraterne Trophy, the perpetual trophy for the Eurosaf Championship.
The Race Committee is going to have its work cut out to keep up with the schedule, which includes four stages, as with most match racing events:
Stage 1 – Round-Robin
Stage 2 – Quarter Final, knock-out series
Stage 3 – Semi-Finals, knock-out series
Stage 4 – Final and Petit Final, knock-out series
Local knowledge suggests that the wind will come, but while what we have at present can be best described as a gentle and warm summer breeze, the event needs more if we are to get into the programme with any hope of completing all stages.
In the meantime, like sailors everywhere, we sit and wait patiently for what is to come.
Viktor Chirkov, director of Congress Palace - EUROSAF Match Racing, Open European Championship 2013