Nord Stream Race - Team Russia take the lead

Team Russia (sponsored by Gazprom), skippered by Vladimir Liubomirav, cross the finish line in first place, for the first leg of the Nord Stream Race 2012, from Saint-Petersburg to Helsinki.
In Leg 1 of the inaugural Nord Stream Race, winds approached thirty knots from the south west, providing plenty of action for the competitors who are racing from Saint-Petersburg, Russia to Helsinki, Finland. Team Russia, sponsored by Gazprom, after leading round the first mark of the 198 nautical mile passage sailed consistently to retain a first place position across the finish line situated between the Husunkivi Beacon and Länsi Mustasaari Light.

The Nord Stream Race Fleet is now berthed next to the Market Square of Central Helsinki. Finishing today, October 19th, at 10:32am in 2.5 metre waves, Team Russia were proudly crowned winners of Leg One.

Their skipper, Vladimir Liubomirov, spoke on arrival into the first stopover after 18 hours of racing: 'The first leg did not present us with any huge surprises, the weather stuck to the forecast with a maximum of 30 knots, the drop in temperature overnight however, was our first experience of racing in such cold conditions as we do not normally sail during these hours! It was unusual for us to have the Russian Coastguard’s Border Control following us with two of their boats over the border, this was a great pleasure for me and it was good fun to have them with us, it made a nice picture for all the competitors during this leg. I am very happy with this as our first result we have a great crew and have put a lot of effort into team building, everyone knows each other and their roles during race time. 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 a good first leg to the Nord Stream Race overall.'


Team Europe, sponsored by Nord Stream AG, finished in second place 27 minutes behind Team Russia. Tim Kroger, Skipper of Team Europe, was positive to finish in number two spot today, 'We predicted that the boat round the first mark of the course would win the race and this happened, from our side we pushed very hard but there were not many passing lanes. It was important for us to push pretty hard and never throttle back; the crew worked fabulously trimming the whole way and never let go. The Swan 60 stood up well because we treated her respectfully as a race boat. We have a number of race legs left and we will continue to hang in there.'


Team Holland, sponsored by Gazprom International, took third spot and Team France, sponsored by Stroygazconsulting finished in fourth. Pieter Keijzer, Skipper for Team Holland, said, 'We had great wind out there and are reasonably happy, the team worked well together and all interacted positively which is important during racing especially as we have a lot of distance left to cover together'.

Tomorrow, October 20th, will see a change in race discipline for the Nord Stream Race with a match racing event held in shore using the style of the traditional America’s Cup events. The round robin structure of the Match Racing will ensure that all entries undertake short, quick ‘boat on boat’ races with the Umpire Team and International Jury headed up by David Lees policing each match. The initial flight will begin at 10am with the first start of the round robin following promptly by the next four races for the Round Robin Final and Petit Final.

With a maximum wind speed of eight knots forecast and calm sea state for tomorrow the Nord Stream Race Fleet have excellent conditions in store for tight match racing flights.

Leg Two commences on October 22nd with the Gazprom Swan 60 Class lining up to race from Helsinki, Finland to Gotland, Sweden.

Nord Stream Race website
http://www.sail-world.com/103018