FROM HELIGOLAND TO STRANDE
Anyone who wants to conquer Pantaenius Round Skagen has to face three extraordinarily different marine environments. The North Sea, Skagerrak and Baltic Sea all offer their own unique challenges. Here we show what the course has to offer.
The North Sea
The North Sea is considered one of the most beautiful - but also most selective and demanding - sailing destinations in the world. It presents the participants of the Pantaenius Round Skagen Regatta with their first big challenge shortly after the start. Changing winds, the tidal range, strong currents and a hard swell determine the unique character of this shelf sea. Legendary storm tides have given the typical North Sea heavy weather, the "Blanken Hans", its nickname. Defying it is certainly one of the most demanding stages of the Pantaenius Round Skagen Regatta.
In addition to the challenging environmental influences, sailors should also take into account the relatively high frequency of commercial freight traffic on the North Sea. Current tide and current forecasts are provided by the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) at www.bsh.de. At least five times a day, maritime radio also provides information on the current weather forecast and storm warnings. A service that every sailor on the North Sea should use regularly. The individual maritime radio channels for Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands can also be found on the BSH website.
Named after the town of Skagen, which is located at the northernmost end of Jutland and signals to the regatta participants that half of the distance has been completed, the Skagerrak lies between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The Skagerrak is up to 140 kilometres wide and almost 250 kilometres long. In contrast to the rather shallow North Sea, the Skagerrak gets deeper and deeper in the direction of Norway, with a water depth of several hundred metres. Along the Danish coast, an easterly current prevails, which can reach up to five knots with appropriate winds from the south or east. The Skagerrak is characterised by a difficult sea state with waves up to ten metres high in winter. Even though the Skagerrak is part of the North Sea, the weather conditions are more similar to those of the Baltic Sea and are generally less challenging than the previous area between Heligoland and Hanstholm.
The Baltic Sea
After the participants have left the Skagerrak behind them, they are greeted by the Baltic Sea and the Kattegat, in English "cat hole". According to Scandinavian opinion the Kattegat belongs neither to the North Sea nor the Baltic Sea but is an independent area. Nevertheless, the adjoining North Sea still makes itself felt here. Tidal range and currents are much less intense than in the Skagerrak, but the winds in the Kattegat are sometimes notorious. The further south the crews move, the more inviting the sailing conditions become. The western Baltic Sea is one of the most popular sailing areas in Central Europe and almost always offers decent wind conditions from the west, and at high pressure also from the east. Heavy weather or calm conditions are rather rare. On the way to the Kieler Bucht the Baltic Sea therefore offers a lot of space for tactics. Here it is not seldom decided who may take home the coveted challenge cup. On the last miles you have to mobilize all your power reserves once again, for example if you suddenly have to change to a larger sail when the wind dies down. In 2010 the crew of the sailing yacht HEXE only just failed to set a new course record, when a sudden calm interrupted the yacht's victorious voyage, which had already been believed to be certain, and made it clear that even the calm Baltic Sea always holds surprises in store.