Thursday, 2 June 2011

North Sea Regatta : Tough start for Vuurschepenrace 2011

Start Vuurschepenrace group 1. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/

by Diana Bogaards

It was a tough start of the 110-mile long Vuurschepenrace on Tuesday May 31. There were short and steep waves along the coastline for the Hague, with an onshore breeze of wind around force five. At around 19.00 hours local time, Councillor Karsten Klein fired the starting gun of the first group, by which the Delta Lloyd North Sea Regatta 2011 officially began. In total, 64 yachts crossed, sixteen more than in 2010, the line towards Harwich.

It was busy all afternoon in the harbor of Scheveningen, where participants worked on the final preparations. The Swan 45 Checkmate of De Ridder family was the last to leave the port heads and is currently leading. All teams can be followed live via, due to tracing and tracking. The Checkmate has the brand new Dehler 41 Miles 4 Justice of top lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops in her wake. On board is a mix of amateurs, pros and marines. Among them was Peter van Niekerk, who is currently active in the professional and Wally and TP52 circuit. Previously, former Olympian Van Niekerk sailed the Volvo Ocean Race and the America's Cup. The purpose of this project is to raise as much money per mile traveled as possible. That money will be used for projects, dedicated to the protection of human rights.

Beating. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/

It was Van Niekerk's call to contact Frits Koek (NED), who formerly worked as a meteorologist for the Dutch teams BrunelSunergy, ABN AMRO and Delta Lloyd in the Volvo Ocean Race. 'Yes, it's great fun having him around,' says Van Niekerk. About the Miles 4 Justice he says: 'It's a new boat, so it will be a learning process. According to the rating she must be very hard." For someone who has sailed around the world, crossing the North Sea should be peanuts. Van Niekerk responds, laughing: 'At one point the sun will rise again and we are hopefully close to the finish. The competition is fun with so many boats. I see many old friends from ten years ago, because that is how long I have not participated in this regatta. I really wanted to and got excited.'

The weather

For Frits Koek it is the first time to be involved as a meteorologist in the Vuurschepenrace. It is his job to advice the team on the route, based on the weather. 'Over the last days it was a little unclear what the weather would do. Yesterday was a beautiful day with wind and we had rain this morning. There was a good breeze, which will continues tonight at least up about half way. With about 10 to 15 knots from the northwest. Gradually the wind turns slowly to the west. By the time they reached the other side of the Channel, the breeze comes from that angle and with less than ten knots. The last piece they need to sail just off the ship lane, so there are not many opportunities for beating. The wind is shifting to the southwest and possibly even further to the south, reduced to about five knots. That last part is going to be exciting. It will be a race for light yachts."

Justice 4 Miles. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/

Anchor is ready

This year, the Rosetta from the Rocks has a special crew. Skipper/owner Radboud Crul: 'The Race Director of the NSR, Peter Anink and his wife and two sons are on board.' With 24 editions in the pocket, Crul doesn't get too bothered by weather forecasting: 'The anchor is ready. We aim for rounding the first mark, Yellow Black Yellow, before midnight. That is halfway the course and we expect a wind shift by then. When the breeze drops, there is a risk that the current takes you along the southern side of the two first mark. You should always try to pass those upstream. These are crucial moments in the race.'

Drop outs

The first drop dropouts were already a fact immediately at the start. The winner in the IRC 2 of 2010, the Panther, was the victim of a collision and turned around. Owner Yvonne Beusker explains: 'We had a good start, but I think the Pinta-M was not really in control. Instead of bearing away, they hit us full on the stern. We have quite some damage, but we will do a full examination tomorrow. Hopefully we will be ready in time for the inshores next week. This is for sure a pity." The E-mission of skipper Erik van Vuuren returned home with rudder problems. Meanwhile, the Meka II came back as well, for yet unknown reasons.

About the Delta Lloyd North Sea Regatta

On Tuesday May 31, the starting gun of the 110-mile Vuurschepenrace from Scheveningen to Harwich was fired. This is the first race of the Delta Lloyd North Sea Regatta. After a lay day in Harwich, the IRC and ORC classes sail the R.O.R.C. North Sea Race back to Scheveningen on Friday June 3. During the Whitsun weekend, from June 10 until June 13, more than 500 boats compete in the inshore races before the Coast of Scheveningen. Several disciplines participate: big yachts, current and former Olympic classes, one-design classes, catamarans and open boats.

For more information about the 2011 Delta Lloyd North Sea Regatta, please surf to