Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Anitra, 12 metre, competing in 2010. Image copyright Rolex / Nico Krauss.
by Andreas Kling
The weather gods seem aware of their responsibility when it comes to a royal event. Just in time for the opening of the eighth Rolex Baltic Week, which will see his Majesty King Harald V of Norway take the helm of the “Sira”, summer has arrived at Flensburg Fjord. With perfect weather and ideal easterly winds the 46 crews from 15 nations have spent the past two days preparing for the big event in Glücksburg.
Twenty-five yachts in the 8-Metre class will sail from Wednesday, June 29th until Sunday, July 3rd, racing for the Robbe & Berking 8-Metre World Cup. Meanwhile, ten 12-Metres have reported for their global championships and eleven 6-Metre crews are seeking to win the Robbe & Berking Sterling Cup. The Rolex Baltic Week will officially open tonight in the newly renovated home of Flensburg Sailing Club on the idyllic harbour of Glücksburg. As of tomorrow a total of nine races are scheduled, sailed each day from 12 o'clock.
Even as they have been training over the past few days the Metre yachts have made a fascinating spectacle on the waters between Denmark and Germany, heeling hard on the wind in the characteristic fashion of the narrow Metre designs in glittering sunlight, then a little later powering back to Glücksburg under bulging spinnakers with foaming water from each bow.
The 74-year-old King Harald V attended some training sessions with his 8-Metre yacht, driving the green “Sira” with sail number NOR 33. During the coming days at Rolex Baltic Week, he will be present not as a head of state, but as a yachtsman among many other sailors.
The King is perceived by the other crews as a great competitor because of his decades of racing experience. The Canadian Richard Self admits: “We look forward to the match with ‘Sira’.” With his owner-partner Mark Decelles Self has shipped two 8-Metre yachts to Europe. They will sail the 1938-built “Raven” themselves to compete against “Sira“ of the same age, while their 24-year-old “Gefion” was chartered by Ronald Palm (USA).
Palm will have to compete in a fleet of four modern 8-Metre, including the Swiss “Yquem II” by Jean Fabre. “We're here to win. Unfortunately, defending champion ‘Aluette’ doesn't take part but ‘Lafayette’ as vice-world champion is a strong opponent. We are well prepared, have new sails and know the area, as we already have been here six years ago with the ‘Yquem I’,” said Fabre, who won last year's Euro Cup within the Rolex Baltic Week in Kiel.
The modern 12-Metres are not at the start in Flensburg, but the classic designs will enjoy some spectacular races for the class title. Wilfried Beeck, Kiel, owner and helmsman of “Trivia”, expects a battle for the lead with “Anitra”, “Sphinx” from Flensburg and the Danish “Vanity V”. “It's almost the same set-up like last year at Rolex Baltic Week. And after we won in 2010, we want to repeat the course here. We know we can be world champion. In 2008 we were runner-up, and in 2007 we were at the top of the championships, which were not then regarded as a World Cup, because one too few races were sailed,” says Beeck. Regardless of the outcome Beeck is already impressed by the regatta’s calibre: “The Rolex Baltic Week is a great event, whether in Kiel or Flensburg. The ambience and atmosphere are unique.”
Rolex Baltic Week