Sunny weather and 5-6 bft wind forecast, almost enough wind to reef the sail….almost, but not quite. Today my crew was replenished with more hands: Roland and Douglas, the latter – whom we shanghaied from ERIK’s crew – is from Guatemala, has Scottish roots and teaches Mayan language in Berlin….a rather interesting combination, to say the least. After the skipper meeting, in which Gerd Büker explained the rules of the regatta with the admonition not to come in as first (in each class), as the winners are not only lampooned and mocked but get awarded the most awful and tacky prices under the northern sun….for instance a pink barbie umbrella. This is the pecularity of the Rum-Regatta, where blind ambition and immature racing affectations are punished. For this reason skippers have tried every gimmick to trick their competitors into crossing the line before them, e.g. throwing buckets as drag-anchors, in order to be awarded the sought-after 2nd prize: a massive 3 litre bottle of local Johannsen rum.
At 11am we heard the firing of the signal gun and were starting our slalom in between majestic schooners, ketches, cutters and sloops….a magnificent sight, although at times dicey in terms of collision prevention, as the Flensburg Fjord was packed with over 100 traditional vessels of all sizes; from the Arendal-sjægts to the three-mast top-sail schooners. But it all went well and it was an uncomparable experience!
Although we were caught in some calms in the beginning of the regatta, we got more steady wind as we approached the Okseøer (“ox islands”) in Danish waters. While the tall ships were required to sail to a bouy at the mouth of the fjord, us smaller fishing boats had to circumnavigate these islands. This is were we picked up speed and took over most other boats in our class, following behind in our wake. We took a long reach, due to the extensive shoals north to the islands and the greater draught of my vessel. On the last nautical mile, we took over Willem’s Arendal-sjægt THÆRIE WIIGEN on a broad reach and came 4th of all small boats (according to our counting). Ryszard’s crew on KNIPDUL was awarded the first prize: I just knew they would win…they are not only terrific sailors, but much credit also goes to the Kashubian boat-construction, being fitted with a centreboard which they could rise and traverse the many shoals of the Okseøer without having to avoid them. It was a fantastic sailing day…it really couldn’t have been any better!
On the previous day we commenced the small-boats regatta with a Le Mans start.