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Vis a vis the finish line

Friday, June 10th 2022

Here comes the finish line! To be the "last" to push from behind with a lot of momentum, to make a brilliant final sprint is an exciting moment and Tilman Frank's "Sagitta" did just that. Westerly winds of around 15 knots with gusts of around 18 knots drew on the reserves again during the night and pushed the crew, allowing them to get up the speed.

 

It was only in the last 20 nautical miles that the wind shifted to their noses. And if this was not enough of a disadvantage to have to cross into the finish, the wind collapsed towards the afternoon. Especially on the left side (in the eastern half of the Bay of Kiel) the wind disappears. The "Lotta", the "Bar Central", the "HavLys" and perhaps also the "Dantes" will be threatened by the big wind hole in the afternoon. On the right side, the wind holds out for the longest. Maybe they will catch a breeze and slip through the wind hole - who likes to stay vis-à-vis the finish line. 

The score is settled at the end!

Thursday, June 9th 2022

The slogans are booming. The rich have become richer and richer. They rarely had to cross and (also because of this) have already reached the finish. They were still able to take enough pressure with them most of the time due to a SE wind (reacher and half wind) and really make up miles. At the same time, the peloton had to fight against much less wind and wind from the front - and how could it be otherwise? The Baltic Sea provokes with its light wind gusts, while at the same time the current in the Great Belt with all the Baltic Sea power of 2 to 2.5 knots is also against it. Those who sail here have two options to choose from: very close under Langeland or find their luck generously on the east side of the Great Belt. However, this means crossing the counter-current twice. It can work.

 

If the journey was fast until yesterday, it was Wednesday afternoon when the comfort zone had to be left. It became - and still is - refined. Wind and current had to be brought into harmony. That's where the SE wind came in handy at times, despite the rain and poor visibility. A direct course and please make the most of the speed that can be tickled out of it. That is the temporary recipe. At least until the front has passed through. The end of the rain is the sign for the wind to change direction to the south. At the same time, the wind drops, leaving 5 to 10 knots. To take something positive away from this: at least some boat speed can still be maintained on the wind to the destination.

 

There is still a remedy for this in the Bay of Kiel. New SW winds must first gather. From noon today, the wind shifts to 240 to 270 degrees, increasing to 12 to 15 knots, gusts to 18 knots. A solid basis for a very fast trip to the finish, which can last until tomorrow morning. Those who have not reached the finish by then will have to show nerves. Another south-westerly wind and wind holes can still throw the positioning out of kilter and show once again: the score is settled at the end!

Time of the tacticians

Wednesday, June 8th 2022

It was bound to happen: Maya, the actual storm depression, got down on its knees and lost wind speed. 20 to 25 kn on average from the southwest and gusts between 25 and 30 kn are plenty of fodder to be fast. For "L4/Trifork", a doorway turned into an open gate and they didn't hesitate for a second, even when the wind in the Great Belt finally decreased. Is it still enough for a new record? We still have to cross the Bay of Kiel for the final time with the wind now clearly slackening and weak. If it’s too weak, records don't stand a chance.

 

So far, the wind has been good for most of the regatta field. As long as the wind blows from the southwest, the tram ride takes its course. The main field is impressively close together, even if in the Kattegat the first tactical alternatives like leaving Läsö to starboard are taken out of the bag. This is not only due to the expected southerly wind, but the current is also an issue now. Between 1 and 3 knots, the water can flow northwards but it can also tilt like a tide and push to give very good advantages.

 

Yes, and then there is this left turn. The wind wants to shift to the south. At the same time, it gives itself the nerve to decrease to 5 to 10 knots - and less. This sets the stage for the tacticians and analysts to choose the right side. As irrelevant as it usually is in regatta sailing, whether the sun is shining or it is raining, in this part of the race the sky’s picture tells us quite a lot about the behaviour of the wind: more sun = less wind. New rain starting tonight = wind shifts to the left. However, the wind will not leave it at this left turn. Arriving at max 130°, it threatens to turn back to the south and weaken again, only to want to turn solidly to the right again from Thursday noon. This should be the final right turn for many - we will see tomorrow. 

Tram driving

Tuesday, June 7th 2022

One goes in front and all follow behind. This doesn't look like a sophisticated tactic and strategy, and yet it is. For almost all yachts, the shortest route in this race is also the most successful, but speed is still the key parameter. This is a regatta about getting the most out of the boat and from the crew, pushing the limits without compromising safety or risking breakages. This strategy applies from the very beginning, but there is a powerful opponent breathing down everyone's neck: the Maya storm.  The storm drives everyone before it, and most of them passed the test: they were fast enough, the storm stayed in the south, but it wasn't fast enough. And now it is about to disappear. The low may have caught up with the pack this afternoon, but it no longer has sharp claws. The storm is weakening massively. As it should be, there is little or no wind in the low. "Maya" is serious and offers the wind in the Bay of Jammers almost head on, from 090° -120°. At times, you must cross. At the same time the wind drops to 10...8...5 knots. The low - I should say the remnants of the low - leaves behind only seeds of wind at times, and the Bay of Jammers lives up to its name again tonight.

 

Patience is required, but also rewarded. The low continues to move towards Sweden and offers new gradient winds on the back side. 10 to 15 knots from NW to W breathes new life into the regatta field - and gives the slower ones the unique chance to catch up with those in front. Except for "L4Trifork", who is running her own race between Skagen and Grena with an insanely fast Reacher! Tomorrow the wind will be on her nose, too, but there is still room for her at 5-10 knots. The "half-dry" is the only one who can still follow her and stay in her lane. Only she - it looks like - has bought a ticket for the tram ride. On board all the other ships, heads are spinning at this stage of the leg as to which tactic is best - tram driving will not be it for the time being.

Maximum Speed please!

Monday, June 6th 2022

When you think of Rund Skagen, you certainly don't think of a storm from the south!  When was the last time that happened? And then in a double pack. The name MAYA may make it seem affectionate, but the stormy low makes its uncontrolled rounds and touches Helgoland twice. Today, the first time, while most of us were mentally and technically preparing in stormy gusts. Then, just in time for the start, the wind dropped to a harmless 6 - 15 kn with gusts at 20 kn from the southwest. The anticipation manifested itself.


 
But what awaits the regatta field 12 to 24 hours later generates considerably more adrenaline and tingling in the stomach: Low MAYA comes back ashore from the (high) North Sea and presses a lot of air into a strip of 40 nm off the coast starting tomorrow. It is storming. The gusts sweep across the water at 35 knots (Bft 8). A wind potential of up to 45 kn is there, but by no means certain. South to southwest is the ideal wind direction. In addition, a three-metre wave pushes, causes many to plane and drives the regatta field ahead of them. These are the conditions in which top speeds are called up. We can be curious to see what positions the trackers will throw out tomorrow.   

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