Tuesday 27 May 2014

Nord Stream Race : America's Cup veteran to skipper Team China

Lorenzo Bortolotti will be racing onboard Team China © Nautor's Swan

by Cailah Leask

Team China is on track after a short build programme to take part in their first ever Nord Stream Race. This will be the most progressive entry to the Gazprom Swan 60 Class since its inception three years ago. The team will race on board the newly launched Swan 60, named Windward, which will be skippered by America’s Cup Veteran, Lorenzo Bortolotti.

Lorenzo Bortolotti, Skipper on board Team China spoke ahead of the race scheduled to start on the 30th May, this marks the first official competition for the Asian Swan 60. “The owner of Windward, Mr Fan, has set very ambitious targets for the 2014 sailing program involving a combination of competitive top-level racing. We are very happy to have been given this important challenge and are very satisfied with the results achieved during the preparation. I have a very strong team to race with and I am expecting great results this year in both the Nord Stream Race and throughout the rest of the Gazprom Swan 60 Circuit.”

Team China face a sophisticated line up of yacht racing names for this year’s Gazprom Swan 60 circuit. Team China will have studied past Swan 60 campaigns including Team Europe and current Gazprom Swan 60 World Champions, Team Russia. The success of Team Russia in 2013 has inspired Saint Petersburg Yacht Club to develop a second Russian team through an impressive youth development programme, the Gazprom Youth Sailing Challenge.

Swan 60 Windward at Oy Nautor Ab © Nautor's Swan Eva-Stina Kjellman

Igor Frolov, Skipper of Team Russia and Executive Director, Saint-Petersburg Yacht Club, Russia welcomes the unknown opponent, Team China, to the global mix of Swan 60 teams. “The new Asian contingent has definitely shaken up the Swan 60 fleet this year; it will be interesting measuring ourselves and the new Russian Youth Sailing Team against this unfamiliar international crew. I am hoping that our top flight experience within the core crew that has remained consistent through the racing evolution of the Gazprom Swan 60 Class will be sufficiently challenging again for 2014”.

Racing a Swan 60 for the third consecutive year will be Tim Kröger (GER) with his Team Europe. Tim has instructed multiple Volvo Ocean Race sailor and accomplished match racer, Magnus Woxén (SWE) to join his team again, Magnus provides the ultimate Nord Stream Race mix of offshore performance with inshore match racing skill. Tim will have additional back up on the longer overnight legs from Christian Scherrer (SWI), watch captain during the 1993/94 Whitbread Round the World Race and during the short in shore racing at Helinski, ISAF match racing World Champion, Piotr Przybylski (POL) mentored by the famous Karol Jablonski, will provide essential input.

The Swan 60s christen the start of the 2014 Gazprom Swan 60 Circuit on the 30th May racing 150 nautical miles offshore from Saint-Petersburg, Russia to Helsinki, Finland concluding leg one of the annual Nord Stream Race.

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Gazprom Swan 60 Class

The Gazprom Swan 60 Class was awarded ISAF Class status at the end of 2012 and the first official Class Circuit took place in 2013, incorporating the inaugural Gazprom Swan 60 World Championship into the circuit. The long term mission for the Gazprom Swan 60 Class is to grow and promote the Swan 60 as the best one-design racing option within the maxi size range that is also able to offer a family friendly comfortable cruising solution as required. www.gazpromswan60class.com

Nord Stream Race

Nord Stream Race 2014 is made up of two legs going across the whole of the Baltic Sea from Saint Petersburg (Russia) to Rostock-Warnemünde (Germany) stopping once in Helsinki (Finland). Just as last year the race is open to the Gazprom Swan 60 class and yachts under ORC handicap. The start for the 150 nautical mile medium-distance race from Saint Petersburg to Helsinki is on 29th of May 2014. In the Finnish capital the Swan 60s will compete in a match race series and the ORC yachts will have inshore races on their programme. On 2nd of June the fleet will leave for the 600 nautical mile long-distance race to Rostock-Warnemünde. The route then passes Gotland and Bornholm following the Nord Stream gas pipeline, the eponym of the regatta. Depending on wind strength and direction the boats will arrive at the finish in Warnemünde between 5th and 6th of June. Organisers of the top-class event are the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein together with Saint Petersburg Yacht Club in cooperation with Helsingfors Segelklubb. The Nord Stream Race was initiated in 2012 in order to connect the countries around the Baltic rim on a sporting level.