Over 90 yachts will start in taking place in July Dr Irena Eris ORC European Championship Gdańsk 2017. Among them 56-foot “Baltico”, commanded by one of the most famous Polish sailors, captain Tomasz Cichocki.
As our interviewee declares, for his team not the performance will be the most important but the opportunity to represent Poland at such important international event, which will be held in Gdańsk for the first time.
”How do preparations for July take place?”
“We work on the boat all the time. Small maintenance and repair works are in progress. We are expecting the delivery of the genaker – the first of the sails that will help us during the race. “Baltico” is not a race boat, only a cruiser, so although these sails will help us, they will not give us a chance to win with strong competition.”
”You start without belief in victory?”
”We want to have fun, represent well Poland and some of our sponsors. We do this to support and promote sailing in our country. We probably will not win, but we won’t finish last. We’ve got ambition and will to fight! Our boat sailed in the Polonez Regatta and finished second. Only a catamaran, a boat unmatched for such a large unit as the Baltico, was ahead of us. In the group of monohulls, however, we were the first. To conclude, it’s a fast unit. But how it will go – we will see.”
”In recent years, you have become famous mainly by faraway ocean cruises, sailing the globe and trying to cruise around the world non stop – how do you feel as a regatta sailor?”
”I come from Olsztyn. There we all started in clubs, regattas were something natural. During the competition we have gained the greatest amount of knowledge and skills. I’m not a regatta sailor, but I have some idea about regatta. I know the rules well enough to fight.”
”Are nine crew members, with you as a skipper, the optimal cast for the ORC championship?”
”Such a crew is a tribute to my colleagues, and a requirement. “Baltico” is a big yacht, hands to work with sails are useful.”
“You came to Gdansk for a few days to meet with the crew and train. What will you pay special attention to?”
”Rarely performed on the cruisers gybes with gennakers. This requires swiping a 240-meter sail around the forestay and we’ll learn this. We are all sailors, but so far we have not been together in the regatta together. We need to practice together what each of us can do separately. We will train maneuvers, commands, race procedure. We have two days.”
”Two days is probably not enough to master all the elements…”
”Therefore, we will return to Gdansk Bay in two weeks and a few days before the Polish Championship in ORC formula. They will directly precede the European Championship and we will treat them as getting used to the regatta.
”What do you know about the competitors you will face in July?”
“I know they will be crews from all over Europe. Among them Swedes, Germans, Lithuanians, Russians, we are afraid of the last ones because they are brave and know how to race. The Swedes will probably come on heavy yachts so we can fight them. Well, but as it will be, we will find out in the fight. We have the spirit to fight, but we are realists. To compete with the typical racieboats we have chances only when there are severe weather conditions on the water. However, considering that the Championship will be held in July, we doubt it. We do great in difficult conditions, because for us it is normal. And the raceboats are lightweight, designed for short races.
”So you wish for bad weather?”
”I once won the Polonez Regatta due to hard conditions. I sailed on a 40ft Delphia yacht – the same one I sailed around the world. Bad weather favors me in the regatta.”
”Are there any racing plans for this season outside of the Polish and European Championships?
”No, we do not have the funds for it. Besides, the regattas are like car rallies. Similarly, there are many car races, but only the Dakar Rally and Formula 1 matter. The same goes for
the regatta – the most important is the Sydney-Hobart race. I think about the start in this regatta, but still not all is ready, so for now I can’t declare anything. And in the Gdansk championship we start mainly because such an important sailing event will be held for the first time in Poland. We want to participate in this.”
”Since there will be no regatta, maybe another long, lonely ocean cruise in the near future?”
”Not yet. I have had enough lone sailing, I am after three such voyages and I feel tired. I want to sail with people. Of course I have plans for the future, but for now I can’t talk about them. I think at the end of the year I will officially announce what and how.”
”What are your individual sailing plans for this season?”
”There will be some commercial ventures. Besides, I have been invited for some big, serious events. I will talk about sailing, Polish sailors and their achievements, I will represent Poland. I want to make a bow in the direction of Polish sailing. We have great sailors and a very good coastline. The only question is whether we will be able to use it in the coming years.”
”It sounded serious. Would you want torepay the debt of gratitude to Poland and Polish sailing?”
”You can say so. But if I do not do some sports and do not have sponsorship commitments, why should I sit at home in front of the TV? I am engaged in various actions popularizing sailing, because I believe that it will bring positive effect.”
By Dariusz Olejniczak