They returned with a skin tanned dark brown, hiding their strained and squinting eyes behind sunglasses - the Rolex Baltic Week sailors were glad to get back to the "ancora Marina" in Neustadt/Holstein on Sunday (8 August).
Especially the long-distance race of the International German Off-shore Championships (Internationale Deutsche Meisterschaft, IDM) had taken its toll on the crews and their boats despite perfect conditions. Beaming with joy, however, the winners did their best to hide the strain of the previous night. It was the crew of Horst MANN'S L+M Hispaniola from Kiel (IMS 1), Peter Süselbek's Westwind (Oberhausen) in the IMS 2 class and No Limits by Lars and Sven CHRISTENSEN from Kiel (IMS 3/4).
"We were able to deal very well with last night's fickle winds",
said tactician Thomas JUNGBLUT of the Rodman 42, L+M Hispaniola, "from 3 a clock in the morning we were so much ahead of our hardest competitors that we decided to sail defensively and just cover them well."
The handicap calculations gave them nearly a half hour's lead over the second placed Alice (Volker KRIEGEL/Kiel), that had gained a lot throughout the night after a weak start. Right from the start, though, the top favourite L+M Hispaniola has set the pace for any crew who wants to become German Off-shore Champion.
Her sister, Hanseatic Lloyd from Bremen, had to be content with the third rank. "We were on the windward side with the bigger Unique and doing well in the early stage of the race, when we were suddenly trapped off Warnemünde at 1.30 a.m.",
related helmsman and tactician Albert SCHWEIZER. "For half an hour, all displays at the mast showed zero",
added owner Christian PLUMP, "considering that, we are quite satisfied with the outcome of the race."
Other competitors had already lost ground in the calm long before race director Eckart REINKE in the small hours decided to shorten the course and laid out the finish line off Wismar. The wind had died to only six knots by then. "That was definitely the right thing to do",
winners and losers alike praised his foresight, as the smaller boats otherwise might not have been able to stay within the time limit. Placed fourth in the IMS 1 class was Varuna by Jens KELLINGHUSEN (NRV Hamburg), ahead of the Swedish IMX-40 Spiff with Lena KRONSTRÖM-HAVING at the helm.
At midday, an Easterly sea breeze set in and helped the yachts to return to Neustadt faster under spinnaker than by motor. But the shortening of the course by 21 miles was particularly ideal for the slower IMS 2 yachts, that were originally intended to sail more than a 130 nautical miles.
With hindsight, the Westwind crew too, was lucky to finish the race on the far end of the Mecklenburg Bight: It was a lead of a mere two seconds that the First 36.7 held in the end on the smaller X-99 Patent 2 by Ulrich TESCH from Hamburg. "We never saw her throughout the race and then it was ever so close on corrected time", said helmsman Kai von Berg (Neumünster).
"We might have lost some time under spinnaker; time we had gained throughout the night with our ideal tacks." So Westwind was not only first ship home", but even finished four minutes ahead of favourite Lollipop (Jan HINRICHS/Berlin), that came only seventh on corrected time.
The winner of the IMS 3/4 class, that had had to sail a course of only 72.8 nautical miles, was a surprise. A happy Sven Christensen, at the helm of No Limits, said: "We never thought we could win the title, but had always been confident during the long-distance race."
Title defender Froschkönig by Detlef AMLONG (Schwedeneck) finished second four and a half minutes later. With a scoring factor for the offshore race of 1.5, she is now 1.5 points behind No Limits. With three windward-leewards, the IDM will be continued on Monday (9 August) and three more races on Tuesday.
Race director Coord MÜLLER had started the second race of the Swan regatta at 10.30 a.m. and sent the fleet on the 39 nautical miles' course. With a lot of tacking, the six "swans" had sailed about 45 nautical miles in the end and only returned in the late afternoon. Once again, the biggest yacht - Swan 56 Chrila by Claus BRESSLER (Hamburg) - finished first, but less than four minutes on corrected time ahead of Ronny WULFF'S chartered Babs. In group 2, Panini by Axel JUNGE (Lübeck) and Niomé by Burghard SCHWARZ-ROHWEDDER (Bremen) swapped places and are now jointly holding the overall lead.