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Finally, another close race! The Baltic 500 should have taken place on Ascension Day - with 12 Dehler 30s at the start!


The Baltic 500 was supposed to take place on Ascension weekend - with 12 Dehler 30s at the start! Unfortunately, the event had to be cancelled, but none of us let that get us down. We quickly came up with several ideas for a joint training race to spend the free weekend. The plan was to sail around Funen, but because of the uncertain wind forecast, it became a course starting in the Bay of Kiel to the third approach buoy Lübeck-Gedser via Kleverberg East, Stollergrund North and the DW61 south of Langeland.

The fact that Fehmarn was not a railway mark presented us participants with the question both on the way there and on the way back: around the outside or the inside? Several factors played a role in this decision: current, the expected wind shift and wave height. Unfortunately, the routings with various weather models couldn't really help us either.

After a good start, a short cross and a long slippery course, we were leading the race (apart from the 20m Milan) and had to be the first to make this difficult decision. Contrary to all predictions, the wind shifted to the left, so the course around the outside of Fehmarn was exactly sailable with our VMG downwind angles. Through the Ferhmarnsund, all boats in the fleet could only make it at the time of the left turn if they sailed higher than their ideal VMG (but faster). Beyond Fehmarn, where there would be less wind because of the land cover, the crews that had opted for "inside around" would have to go VMG downwind again in the then lighter wind.

We thought it would be more advantageous to sail VMG downwind in the strong wind upwind of Fehmarn and sail a little faster with the pointed course in the land cover. Unfortunately, something had gone wrong with downloading the current data to our nav computer and by the time we had to make the decision we were outside LTE coverage, so as far as current was concerned we could only decide based on the instrument data (GPS speed minus boat speed).

However, due to the wave we were regularly gliding down, the data was constantly distorted and it was therefore quite difficult to estimate the current. The wave, however, was an argument why we decided to sail around the outside. The Dehler 30 is made for fun in the waves ;-)So we never found out what the conditions were like in the Fehmarnsund at that time, but the boats there must have had considerably more wind or current from behind or something similar, because when we all met up again behind Fehmarn, the JPK 10.80 "Lightworks", the Classe9.50 "Whiteout" and the JPK 10.10 Sharifa had overtaken us.

This annoyed us, of course, but there was no time for anger now - the decision was whether we should go around the outside again on the way back or this time around the inside. We decided to stick conservatively to our next opponent Sharifa for the time being, also to enjoy this race feeling a bit more. After all, with so many regattas already cancelled, we didn't want to miss any opportunity to practise our skills in a close "fight" with other boats.

Uwe and Sverre on Joint Venture had followed our heels around Fehmarn and were behind us as far as the approach buoy, but then decided to tack directly and set course to go around again.

The Lightworks and the Whitheout, as well as the Si No Fos, which had overtaken us on the way around Fehmarn by sheer speed according to the motto "length runs", were also sailing on starboard bow and partly much deeper than optimal upwind VMG towards the NE tip of Fehmarn.

We did not mind that our direct opponent Sharifa wanted to sail through the Fehmarnsund, because we expected a left turn during the night and therefore wanted to position ourselves more to the left of the field on the cross back to Kiel. In the Fehmarnsund we even had up to 0.5kts of current pushing us from behind, so that the passage of the Fehmarnsund bridge and the narrow fairway with its unlit fairway buoys in pitch darkness was a piece of cake.

Upwind of Fehmarn, the wind and waves increased again and we decided to use the water ballast. With the right sheet setting and a rather conservatively chosen TWA for the cross, the Playharder then sailed wonderfully through the wave and we were really fast! And when the competitors who had sailed around the outside of Fehmarn came back into our AIS coverage, we were pleased to find that we had overtaken Whiteout and Si No Fos and were almost level with Lightworks.

On a left turn we still had good leverage over Lightworks, but as the wind kept swinging back and forth between 270 and 300 degrees during the course of the cross, we were unable to catch up with JPK 10.80. But as we had already overtaken Sharifa on the way into the Fehmarnsund, we finally crossed the finish line in second place (apart from Milan).

We had thus completed the approx. 130 miles in 19h and 33min. And what an exciting course! We are already looking forward to the next races!

Lena Weißkirchel

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