The 2011 Rolex Baltic Week opened on the waters of Flensburg Fjord after the hottest day of the year, with equally heated competition among the Metre classes who began racing for the Robbe & Berking 8-Metre and 12-Metre World Championships.
The Danish Twelve Vanity V owned and helmed by Patrick Howaldt from Copenhagen and the Dutch Hollandia steered by Tim van Rootselaar were the early leaders on Wednesday (29 July) scoring two bullets each.
The regatta’s glamorous opening proceedings glittered a little more brightly thanks to the presence of King Harald V of Norway, competing at the event on his 8-Metre Sira, who commented:
'It’s lovely to be here. I haven't sailed here before, but the race area looks great. I don't know much about the competitors, but we're here to win the Sira Cup. It's my second regatta on the classic Sira, at the first we won our division, so that's what we are aiming for again.'
As the first gun of the event fired at noon the racecourse basked under bright sunshine with fading east-south-easterlies, however conditions rapidly altered with a forecast cold front moving across the course bringing grey, overcast clouds and winds of 10-14 knots for the 12-Metre fleet and lighter conditions on the Eights’ course.
Of the 25-boat fleet competing for Robbe & Berking 8-Metre World Championship, the Canadian Raven enjoyed a perfect start to their regatta with two wins under the classic yachts (built before 1960); the 1938 design surprising many by matching the pace of more modern Eights.
In the Sira class Raven came home ahead of the home nation’s Anne-Sophie in the opener and French entry Hispania IV in the second race of the day. With a consistent scoreline of two thirds the Swiss team Catina VI end day one lying in third position, behind Anne-Sophie who scored a fourth to take second overnight, with Catina just one place off the podium.
King Harald V of Norway’s Sira took fourth in the first race (Sira Cup) among the international 8mR fleet, but was involved in a port-starboard collision in the next. Delphis was clipped by Sira as the royal boat bore away, hooking her by the leeward backstay, and will be awarded redress. Sira crew member Einar Koefoed commented on the reason for the misjudgement, saying after racing: 'We had still a lot power on the main and could ease it quickly enough.'
Among the 8-Metre Neptune fleet, Catina VI and Anne-Sophie are on equal points after the first day, as are the 1912 yachts Elfe II and Sposa in the First Rule class, while the 2005 Hollandia leads the Modern division as well as the overall results. One place behind Hollandia in the Modern class, Jean Favre, the 2010 Rolex Baltic Week winner on YQuem II commented:
'It was a really difficult day with very light winds especially in the afternoon. We made some mistakes and had an average day finishing second and third. Hollandia sailed very quickly and will be hard to beat over the next few days.'
In the 12-Metre class, competing for the Robbe & Berking 12mR World Championships, the Danish entry Vanity V also enjoyed a flawless two wins to lead overnight. Trivia and Sphinx shared the remainder of the podium places between them to tie on five points apiece this evening. Patrick Howaldt, helmsman of Vanity V said after racing: 'It could not have gone any better. We are really very happy. The wind was perfect, very consistent in direction and in strength, so perfect for us.
'In the first race, we headed towards the Danish coast early on the first windward leg and from there could easily lay the top mark, while Trivia had it a little harder to sail high enough. And in the second race we had a perfect start,' added Howaldt, who remains cautious about the team’s chances for the world championship:
'The boats are very close together. Last year we also began the Rolex Baltic Week just as well, we were in front until the last day and then had yet to step aside to let Trivia pass. This time, however, we’re going to try and keep up our good work.'
Trivia owner and helmsman Wilfried Beeck explained: 'We made a few mistakes in the maneuvers, but overall it was a solid performance to build on over the week.' Things were even more consistent among the 12-Metre Antique division, with Erna Signe winning twice, followed by Magda VIII and Heti respectively in both races.
Racing continues for both 8mR and 12mR classes tomorrow at 1200, with racing opening for the 6mR fleet on Friday, 1st July.
Rolex Baltic Week website