The fleet of the long distance race from Helgoland to Edinburgh was extraordinary big due to the 20th anniversary of the traditional race, which is held every two years. 48 crews started on Whit-Monday to take the challenge against the tough North Sea. The conditions were as hard as expected. The teams crossed stormy winds up to 40 knots and extreme waves, as well as calm, fog and sunshine during the 400 miles of the final event of this year's North Sea Week. The race started on Germany's only offshore island Helgoland and let the sailors towards the Scottish capital of Edinburgh situated at the beautiful Firth of Forth.
The First 44.7 Sunbird Dry owned by Norbert DRÜCKER (GER) crossed the finishing line in Edinburgh in the lead on Thursday morning. The next competitors finished 8 hours later.
'We just arrived in the harbour when the wind calmed down and the other yachts stopped, we had a bit of luck there,' said Sunbird crew Lars KOOP (GER) from Bremerhaven. X-Play got to Edinburgh in third position and gained the first place in the IMS class on calculation. They won even though skipper NICKEL hurt himself severely while bouncing against the edge of a table below deck during the storm. The sail maker had to go to a hospital after arriving and the Scottish doctors predicted a partially fractured rip.
The last yacht, Yes helmed by Hans-Joachim GOLDT (GER) from Hamburg was warmly welcomed in Edinburgh on Friday afternoon with bagpipe music.
The coordinator of the race Jens KOHFAHL was impressed by the final 30 miles through the Scottish fjord. 'Dense fog and rotating light winds caught us close to the finish,' said the skipper of the Nicholson 31 Tramontane, who finished as one of the last boats. KOHFAHL came 17th on handicap.
Titleholder Harm MÜLLER-RÖHLCK (GER) came 14th in the ORC class on board his new Okke, a Dehler 35. Markus HARBORT (GER) sailed the first race with his self-made and brand new Chiro First. The Chiropractor had to take it as a training race, as he could only gain the 31st position in the ORC class.
Some crews could not complete the race and did not sail to Edinburgh, with 39 teams finishing the long-distance race. The big favourite UCA of Klaus MURMANN (GER) could not even start. The 86-footer got damaged in the harbour of Helgoland and the crew was forced to resign from the long-distance race.
The atmosphere in Edinburgh was great and reached its peak during the celebration of the anniversary at the Royal Forth Yacht Club on Saturday night. The festivities and the 73rd Nordseewoche finished on Sunday 3 June with a reception by the mayor.
The winner of the Family Cruiser Cup is now clear-cut, too: Tante Schmidt, sailed by Heiko STEPPAT (GER) and his crew won the series at Helgoland even if they were tied with Andiamo helmed by Peter SCHIEFELBEIN (GER). The winner of the Family Cruiser Cup, which is organized for race beginners, can look forward to a weekend for the whole family in the Atoll Hotel on Helgoland.