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Rolex Baltic Week 2011 preview

by Andreas Kling on 24 May 2011
8 Metre Euro Cup IF - Rolex Baltic Week Rolex/Nico Krauss
Rolex Baltic Week 2011 is hosted by the Flensburger Segel Club, Germany, in cooperation with the Kieler Yacht Club and will be held from 28th June to 3rd July 2011.

Glorious names and strong fields have been part of the Rolex Baltic Week ever since the major sailing event had its premiere on the Baltic coast seven years ago. As far as glamour goes the upcoming eighth edition of the event – held for the first time on Flensburg Fjord – looks set to continue this tradition perfectly once again. Even in sailing, a sport associated with many celebrities, it is a very special occasion to have a monarch on the race course. His Majesty King Harald V of Norway will bring glory to Flensburg Fjord at the Robbe and Berking World Championships of the 12 and 8 Metre classes and the Robbe and Berking Sterling Cup of the 6 Metre class.

Five weeks before the first start and just a few days before the closing of entries, it looks like an impressive fleet of classic yachts will race on the idyllic waters of the Fjord which marks the boundary between Middle and Northern Europe. The Eights in particular have been very eager to file their entries with 24 yachts having indicated their intention to take part by mid-May representing 14 nations with Argentina, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA. An additional attraction may have been the chance to race against none other than Norwegian King Harald V, Honorary President of the International Eight Metre Association (IEMA), who for decades has been known as a committed athlete and offshore sailor.

While the Norwegian monarch usually sails his modern Fram yachts, he has chosen to focus his 2011 sailing activities on the Eight Worlds at the Rolex Baltic Week, and he will take his Sira from her Oslo Fjord home waters to Flensburg Fjord. Built in 1938 by Johann Anker, the yacht is only one year younger in age than the 74-year-old King. Sira has been in possession of the royal Norwegian family for more than 70 years, and King Harald’s father, Olav V, sailed her, too. Although the 14.7 metre yacht spent some time on display at the Navy Museum in Horten at the beginning of the new millennium, she enjoyed a glorious comeback to racing a few years later by becoming World Champion in the division of yachts built before 1960 when she won a trophy named after herself: the Sira Cup.

This silver cup had been donated by King Olav V and Erik Anker, the son of Johann Anker in 1983. The history of this trophy goes back a lot further in time, however, as it was initially called the Kattegat Cup. As a young man, Erik Anker won the Cup in 1939 as helmsman of Sira and was granted permission by the King to keep the trophy himself. Anker held on to the Cup for 44 years, before he decided to donate it in 1983.

The best part of the Eights’ fleet will be fighting for the Sira Cups, as most of the yachts will be racing in the Classic Division, encompassing boats launched between 1920 and 1966. However, on the water the Norwegian monarch can be assured of close competition from at least one of his subjects in Morten Tenvig from Oslo, who like last year will come to the Rolex Baltic Week (then held in Kiel with the Euro Cup) with his 1934-built Carron.

For the Kiel based Germania III (of 1935), who won Olympic gold in 1936 and now belongs to businessman Bernhard Kolbe from Duisburg on the Rhine, and also for Hans-Peter Strepp’s Feo of 1927, it will be a chance to race on familiar waters, whereas other boats will have a longer journey to the starting line. For example, the home waters of 1930-built Delphis with sail number 'A-4' are off Argentina. Her owner, Buenos Aires businessman Daniel Sielecki, who is also known for his love of vintage cars, is proud to sail one of only three Eights in Argentina. The President of the IEMA, Swiss Fred Meyer, will also join the Worlds with his 1936 built Catina VI.

The Modern Division will see a number of yachts with World Championship titles under their belts. Scotsman Murdoch McKillop and his Lafayette (of 1986) have won the title two years ago at the Worlds off Hyères, France. If he wants to repeat this success, though, he will have to beat six-time world champion Gefion. Built in 1987, she had a winning streak of four years in a row from 1988 in the World Cup, which she also won in 1994 and 2000. The American/Canadian team of owner Richard Self and helmsman Ronald Palm will have to make an effort to be as successful as their predecessors. The same holds true for Jean Fabre from Geneva, Switzerland and his YQuem II of 2002. He won the Euro Cup in last year’s Rolex Baltic Week off Kiel and had become World Champion with the predecessor of his current boat in 1998.


Built in 2005, the Dutch team Ruud van Hilst and Jos Fruytier’s Hollandia will be one of the newest boats at the starting line. She is thus more than ninety years younger than the two 99-year-old Eights from Lake Constance, the gaff-rigged Elfe II and Sposa who will once again race an internal club match, but will be challenged by a crew of the Norwegian Classic Yacht Club sailing their Carmen IV of 1914 in the First Rule Division. Returning to the Rolex Baltic Week after their debut last year will be Karsten Niehaus’ Svanevit from Cologne, facing King Harald’s Sira for the first time on a race course since 1954, as well as Hanns-Georg Klein’s Anne Sophie (1938) from Munich, bronze medallist in the 2010 Euro Cup, and the Japanese Aun by Yutaka Kobayashi, which won silver. Some of the newcomers are Sagitta of 1929 owned by Timo Saalasti, Finland, the two years older Hispania IV of Tanneguy Raffray under the French flag, the Austrian 89-year-old Bera (Werner-Heinz Schifferl) and the modern, four years young Russian Astra II owned by Alexey Rusetky. The latest entry, no. 24, is Raven from Canada, built in 1938 and belonging to Recyard Self and Mark Decelies.


On top of that, about six Sixes and ten Twelves are expected to race. Among the big yachts who have already indicated their participation is Josef Martin’s Anitra (built in 1928). Thea (1918) and Vanity (1936) will also have to travel only a short distance from Copenhagen. The winner of last year’s Rolex Baltic Week, Wilfried Beeck from Hamburg, has also entered his Twelve Trivia, and Evaine will be helmed by Georg Kierspel from Berlin. One of the two oldest Metre yachts which are still sea-going, Heti from Hamburg has filed their entry, and also Erna Signe from Norway may yet follow. The two gaff-rigged yachts have both been laboriously restored and will celebrate their 100th (Heti) and 99th birthdays (Erna Signe).Vema III, built in 1933 by Johann Anker in Norway and extensive refitted ten years ago, also has confirmed her plans to come to Flensburg.


Rolex Baltic Week website

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