Flensburg, Germany. The Metre yachts and Flensburg Fjord have always had a very special relationship, and this year it will reach new heights at the eighth Rolex Baltic Week, when both the Robbe & Berking 12-Metre World Championship and the Eights’ world cup will be held here. The event will even see His Majesty Harald V of Norway take part at the helm of his 8-Metre yacht “Sira”. In conjunction with Kieler Yacht-Club (KYC), Flensburger Segel-Club (FSC) will welcome the crème de la crème of these classic vessels – including those participating in the Robbe & Berking 6mR Sterling Cup – from 28 June to 3 July 2011. The 12-Metre owners first staged their World Championship in Gluecksburg in 2008 after the 8-Metres held their Euro Cup there in 2005.
The first official entry for a sailing regatta is always very special, but when that entry is filed by a member of a European royal family, it instantly brings a little extra gloss to even a top class event. King Harald V of Norway, who has been known and loved for decades as an excellent offshore sailor and passionate competitor, will come to Flensburg Fjord from his Oslo Fjord home waters. Besides being the owner and helmsman of a number of top notch regatta boats named “Fram”, the Norwegian monarch will pay tribute to his love of classic boats by taking “Sira” (launched in 1938) with sail number NOR 33 to the starting line. Boat captain Kjell A. Myrann was responsible for dispatching the entry form for the seven-man crew skippered by the King.
Norwegian insiders have let on that as many as three 12-Metre yachts might accompany their royal team to Flensburg. The competition for the Twelves – an America’s Cup class from 1958 to 1987 – will take place on familiar waters for Gluecksburg’s two gems. Both “Sphinx”, built 1939 and relaunched in 2008 following extensive restoration, and “Anitra” (1928), which has been returned to its former glory after an equally lengthy makeover, have chosen Flensburg Fjord as their home ground. This means that in the midst of this top-notch fleet, we will see an exciting intra-club duel in this majestic class.
However, the number one favourite is “Nyala” (1938), with the American sail number US-12, which took the prize back in 2008. Owned by the Italian Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli, the Twelve is usually crewed by a professional team with America’s Cup experience. At the event two years ago, the fashion tsar beat “Trivia” (1937), belonging to Hamburg-based internet pioneer Wilfried Beeck. In 2010, “Trivia” won the Robbe & Berking 12mR Sterling Cup ahead of both “Sphinx” and Patrick Howaldt’s “Vanity V” (1936) from the Royal Danish Yacht Club Copenhagen (RDYC) in a thrilling conclusion to the Rolex Baltic Week.
Also expected to go head to head are Hamburg’s “Heti” and “Erna Signe” from Sandefjord in Norway. Both ships belong to the “Antique” division, meaning they date back to the early days of the Metre classes. The grand old lady from Norway will be celebrating her 100th birthday next year. What could be better than taking part in the World Championship to mark the occasion? Not to be outdone by “Heti”, “Erna Signe” is a mere 99 years old. “Heti’s” design and gaff rig sail plan alone give away her age, however, as the vessel has undergone years of restoration by the Hamburg Maritime Association as part of its youth training project “Jugend in Arbeit”. She has been back on the water with her historic rigging for several years.
Flensburg won over the race organisers from the International Eight Metre Association (IEMA) to be selected as their World Championship hosts, ahead of bids from France and Italy. “The 8-Metre class association was delighted to accept the FSC’s offer to host the World Cup. We were very impressed by our positive experiences both back in 2005 and at the Euro Cup during the Rolex Baltic Week 2010,” said Andreas Lochbrunner from Lindauer Segler-Club, who welcomed the fleet of Eights in 2006 for the World Championship on Lake Constance. He also praised the smooth collaboration between the two host clubs, FSC and KYC.
Lochbrunner, who is the owner of the 8-Metre “Elfe”, expects a large fleet of at least 15 boats to enter the Flensburg Fjord event. “With the Twelves holding their World Championship at the same time, the only problem is that it is more difficult for some owners to take part as they are active in both classes. We will do our best to organise charters to help out,” Lochbrunner promises. He certainly plans to enter with his unusual boat – the smart Abeking & Rasmussen design is the only double-masted Eight. The ketch also features a rare wishbone rig.
Once again, “Elfe” will face Richard Gervé’s “Sposa” in a Lindauer SC intra-club contest. Like “Elfe”, the gaff-rigged yacht was constructed in 1912 and is therefore classed in the First Rule division (vessels built between 1907 and 1919). Following the Rolex Baltic Week 2010, “Sposa” stayed up north, meaning she will be ready to race in 2011 without the need for land transport. Andreas Lochbrunner hopes that other First Rule division yachts will enter the competition. They could include “Lucky Girl”, built by William Fife III, which was completed in 1910 and is now shipshape again following refurbishment. Owned by Siegfried Buss, she sails under the British flag but is berthed on Lake Constance. Another candidate, “Edit” belonging to Wilhelm Wagner from Bodman, will turn 100 next year. She was also built in Finland in 1911 based on a design by Alfred Mylne for the Olympic Games, which were held in the Swedish capital Stockholm in the following year.
“Classic” Eights (vessels built between 1920 and 1966) will make up the largest division. “We fully expect to see a number of ships from Scandinavia. There are lots of classic Eights in Finland alone,” explains Lochbrunner. It goes without saying that the “Modern” 8-Metre yachts (built between 1967 and the present day) are expected to be the fastest on the regatta course. The organisers expect a field of three or four modern vessels in this attractive, classic design to pit themselves against their historic predecessors. Favourites include the Swiss “YQuem II” owned by Jean Fabre, which triumphed at the 8-Metre Euro Cup in summer 2010 during the Rolex Baltic Week in Kiel. Her greatest competitor is expected to be Iris Metten’s “Aluette” (constructed in 1995 and also from Switzerland), which bagged a third World Championship title in Toronto, Canada in 2010 – assuming the yacht is transported back to Europe from North America.
Approximately 20 Eights could line up under starter’s orders in Gluecksburg. They will sail windward-leeward courses within sight of the shore. The ORC World Championship races in September 2010 showed that the idyllic inner fjord between Germany and Denmark is an ideal venue. Both the Robbe & Berking 12-Metre and 8-Metre World Championships are due to consist of nine races, which will commence on 29 June. The FSC’s Principal Race Officer Claus-Otto Hansen is already looking forward to the competition: “The Rolex Baltic Week 2011 will be an outstanding event which will further establish Flensburg Fjord’s good reputation as a championship venue.”