'We are just as proud to host the German Farr 40 premiere as we are to organize the Europeans of the demanding Melges 24,' says Manuel CADMUS, President of the organizing club Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (NRV) from Hamburg. Both classes match the shared aim of the NRV and title sponsor Rolex Germany, which is to offer top-level sailing competitions of high interest in this fourth year of the exclusive annual race week based at the ancora Marina in Neustadt.
For the Farr 40s, this regatta provides a useful warm up before the 2007 Rolex Farr 40 World Championships commence off Copenhagen, Denmark, at the end of August. 'We have moved the start of the Farr 40 one day forward to make it fit better with the international regatta calendar of the top sailors,' explains Knappe in conjunction with the president of the Farr 40 European Fleet, Wolfgang SCHAEFER from Lueneburg, Germany. The two expect entries from the USA, Japan and Australia for the Rolex Baltic Week.
These non-European entries may sail as guests in the European Circuit, which comprises the Rolex Capri Week (28-30 April), the Rolex Farr 40 Europeans (6-10 June in Porto Cervo, Italy), the Farr 40 Open Nordic Championships in Hanko, Norway (5-8 July) and an event in Skagen, Denmark (13-15 July). All in all, 47 races must be sailed of which the nine worst results may be discarded. 'Anyone who wants to win the European Circuit must be racing in Neustadt,' believes the former European champion SCHAEFER, who will enter himself with Struntje Light.
This is a tough test for a class for which one of the founding principles is the owner-driver rule. Four of the crew of nine or ten may be professionals and they will usually serve as tacticians, trimmers or in other significant roles on board. This often leads to a mix of top-class businessmen at the helm being directed by top-level pro sailors.
The breathtaking Melges 24 is sailed by many former Olympic athletes and experienced offshore sailors alike. This class perfectly exhibits the sporting ambition that goes hand in hand with a technically refined boat. The Melges 24 fleet last appeared in the Bay of Neustadt at their 2002 World Championships in the wake of Travemuende Week. So good was its experience that it has even drafted in the Travemuende Regatta Chairman, Walter MIELKE, as race director of the 2007 Europeans.
'Rolex Baltic Week is expecting some 80 to 100 boats and more than 400 sailors,' says Torben KNAPPE from the organizing authority NRV Marketing GmbH. About three quarters of the competitors should be from the Melges 24 class, which is well represented throughout Europe. The top favourites, though, are from Italy, France and Switzerland; and include the current World Champion and former Olympian, Nicola CELON (ITA), at the helm of Enzo AMADORI's (ITA) Bete.
'The top five from the last Worlds are all planning to come to Neustadt,' reports Guenter TZESCHLOCK from Eigeltingen, head of the German class association, who is delighted with the high degree of interest prior to the regatta.
With no restrictions upon who may helm the amateur and professional teams race together on a level playing field for the Giorgio Zuccoli Trophy. This trophy is awarded to the overall Melges 24 European Champion and is named after the Italian sail maker who became the first Melges 24 European Champion in 1992. When Giorgio ZUCCOLI gained his first Melges 24 World Champion title in 2000, he was severely ill from bone cancer. Sadly, the very popular sportsman lost his hardest battle on 27 March 2001.
In addition to the overall trophy the Menno Meyer Trophy is awarded to the top performing Corinthian (all amateur) crew racing in the regatta. This trophy was donated by its namesake, a Dutch jury member in 2005, to acknowledge the impressive degree of professionalism shown by the best Corinthians sailing at the Europeans. This Corinthian Trophy is held currently by the German Melges 24 sailors Albert BATZILL and Eddy EICH, who intend to defend their title at this year's Rolex Baltic Week. Another contender for the title is the NRV member, Dietrich SCHEDER-BIESCHIN, from Hamburg, who was instrumental in bringing the Europeans to Neustadt and will take part with his MACS.
Another all-but certain entry is Joe Fly, but the question is - in which class? The mad-for-sailing owner Giovanni MASPERO from Como, Italy is a two-time Melges 24 European Champion and current defender of the title. He is also the owner of a Farr 40 and he plans to sail in the European Circuit. Last year, it was his countryman and America's Cup syndicate head, Vincenzo ONORATO with Mascalzone Latino, who won not only the Grand Prix series in Europe but also the Rolex Farr 40 Worlds in Newport, USA. ONORATO has snatched this title from the German Farr 40 owner/helmsman, Wolfgang STOLZ and Opus One on the final leg of the last race.
Five months prior to the first start gun and the Notice of Race has just been published. Nine races are scheduled for the Farr 40 and twelve for the Melges 24. The new event website www.rolexbalticweek.com has also been launched, and entries for the regatta may be filed electronically via the Internet.
The Rolex Baltic Week is the only regatta event in Germany that is sponsored by Rolex. The international Rolex regatta calendar features profiled events such as the Rolex Fastnet Race starting in August from Cowes, England, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in September in Porto Cervo, Italy, the Rolex Middle Sea Race in Malta at the end of October and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at the end of December in Australia.