The North Sea Week, sailed in the German Bight is usually windy, cold and rather grey, but 2008 proved the exception to the rule with beautiful sunny weather for the 74th edition of the event.
This year the 143 crews, sailing around Helgoland over Whitsun took advantage of the summer-like weather and tested their light-wind skills. Beluga an Evento 46 sailed by Christian Plump from Bremen and his Crew won the Nordsee-Cup. During this year's North Sea Week, the 'Early Bird Series' for very ambitious sailors and a feeder race from the small island Hallig Hooge have been added to the calendar. The long distance race 'Pantaenius Round Skagen' has been started in light winds on Monday.
About 1,500 sailors have participated in this year's Race Week on the island of Helgoland, enjoying sunny weather and light winds instead of the usual big waves, strong winds scenario. Good current readers and light wind experts were the favourites for this year's competition.
The 'Early Bird Series' kicked off on Friday evening (9 May) with the 'Sundowner Regatta' from Cuxhaven on the mouth of the river Elbe to Helgoland. Early Bird 1 and 2 were sailed on Saturday and 'Ilvitello' a Comet 45 from Christoph AVENARIUS won the series.
The feeder races on Saturday as well as the 'Round Helgoland' on Sunday and Hanseboot Eight' on Monday morning had to be sailed with the biggest and lightest sails up, but the now long distance race will see different conditions.
The 510-mile 'Pantaenius Round Skagen' from Helgoland around the northern tip of Denmark, ventures into the unpredictable Baltic Sea and finally reaches the finish line at Kiel Lighthouse. The lighter breeze at the beginning rules out any chance of breaking the race record this year, set by Klaus MURMANN and 'UCA' in 2000 (43 hours, 46 minutes). But some hot shots have been starting anyway, giving a great picture for all spectators. 'Calypso', an 86-footer (former 'Wild Oats') sailed by Gerd CLAUSEN (GER) of Hmaburg is the biggest yacht in the race. Followed by the Volvo 60 Yacht 'Jever' (former SEB I) sailed by Ralf KUDRA (GER) from Rostock. Also among the spectacular fleet of 65 boats is the Reichl/Pugh 57 'Scho-ka-kola'. The first yachts will be expected in Kiel earliest on Wednesday evening.
It had been the aim to sail trials for a German Commodores Cup team during this year's North Sea Week, but as none of the boats in the smaller classes will try to sail the Cup, unfortunately there will be no German team this year.
For more information, fleet tracking and photos, go to www.nordseewoche.org