The Raymarine Offshore Race today starts the championship in rainy and variable conditions
Race managers at the Dr Irena Eris ORC European Championship started the competition today with the Raymarine Offshore Race, required in the championship format and a test of the fleet’s offshore sailing skills, intending to be 10-12 hours long on courses set in the western Gulf of Gdansk. Nature did not disappoint by providing suitably difficult conditions for this test by first serving up breezy 15-20 knot winds, then diminishing and shifting breezes until the light air finish, all the while in a steady summer rain.
The fleet of 82 boats from 12 nations racing this week represents the largest turnout ever for an ORC Europeans event.
After a brisk and promising start, about 6 hours into the race the wind started dying quickly, and fearing a shutdown in the forecast race managers shortened the course from the intended 45-mile and 55-mile lengths intended for Class C and Classes A and B, respectively, to 42.1 miles for all classes.
First across with finish line was the fastest-rated boat in the fleet on this course, Rolf Relander’s Cookson 50 Furiosa, followed by another fast-rated boat, Filip Engelbert’s Ker 40+ Elvis.
“This was a fun race. It started windy, almost 18 knots before the start, but the waves were not as big as we saw in the Polish Nationals last week,” said crewman Philip Larsen from Elvis. “The wind was changing a lot and we were kept very busy with sail changes. Our boat and our team is new, but I think we worked together well.”
“We were first to finish, but not sure we will correct out against the others even with the dying breeze because we could have sailed better, “ admitted Rolf Relander from Furiosa “But this is a nice solid boat to sail, and even though it was raining all day today it was a warm rain so it was not uncomfortable.”
More boats in the fleet finished as the breeze starting dying more quickly, and in Class A the victor in corrected time by over 3 minutes was one of the pre-race favorites, Erik Berth’s Swan 45 Tarok VII from Denmark. Finishing on top in Class B was Ralf Aspholm’s MAT 1180 DataCom from Sweden by an even greater margin – nearly 19 minutes – and after a long wait in the dying breeze and in the dark, the winner of Class C was Patrik Forsgren’s modified First 36.7 Pro4U from Sweden by a margin of about 2.5 minutes.
Tomorrow will be the start of inshore racing, with Windward/Leeward courses set in two course areas nearby in the Gulf of Gdnask. Live trackers will be used once again, with access made through portals on the event website.
By Dobbs Davis