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Sjælland Rundt 2004

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By Anton Greiffenberg, Skipper

We did it! After last years epic attempt did we complete Sjælland Rundt 2004, the classic 205 nautical mile race around Zealand. But we didn’t just complete – we did it in style. To our very own surprise we came in 6 out of 16, but that was definitely not at be believed if you know our boat. Spækhuggeren Micca II, a Danish designed spidsgatterr, was certainly not in mint condition and our lack of training was hilarious, so our expectations of a spot on the podium or even a Top-10 finish were down to a minimum. Only strong plus was our digitally gadgets – we were fully loaded with GPS, Palm Pilots and two laptops. Here’s a complete trip report:

Starting line: The route is north bound. We’re off to a fine spinnaker start, Fred sets the course and we’re on the way side by side with our fine trimmed and equipped competitors.

Ålsgårde: No wind. Some catch it and the field is split in two. We’re not among the lucky ones.

Gilleleje: We beat up against a NW wind. The boat is doing well, but we’ve lost sight of most of the others except three. We believe we’re all the way in the back, but at least we’re not last.

Snekkeløbet (reef of Zealand): It’s pitch black. Fred and Anton wake the others at this first calling point. We’ve done well and have gained a couple of miles on the visible competitors. Mathias checks the official website for a result and realizes we’re 9th. As we watch in amazement Nokia, a gigantic trimaran starting 7 hours after us, silently races by in the dark.

Røsnæs: Uffe and Mathias have been drifting down and around for 6 hours in rain and zero to some wind and have more or less no track of the field. They’re close to miserable, but are happy to have spotted a couple of live porpoises. We also spot two other competitors as the wind picks up, set the spinnaker and head south.

Storebæltsbroen: Beautiful sailing conditions with a good breeze from NW. We’ve caught up with 5 other Spækhuggere (DEN 88, DEN 96, DEN 243, DEN 431 and S 62), whom we are to race more or less neck to neck for the rest of the race. They’ve been sailing without spinnaker, but quickly set them as we close in.

Korsør: Strong winds send all spinnakers down. Some more controlled than the others. We manage ours well and stay in the game.

Stigsnæs: Next calling point. We’re still number 9, but have visual contact with 5 other. A stupid mistake sends the spinnaker around the front stay and it’s a bitch getting it right again. The skipper is not in good mood…

Smålandsfarvandet: A rainy storm catches up from behind, all are called on deck and we panically struggle to get the spinnaker down. The halyard slips between Antons fingers and he loses skin on 4 fingers – luckily the only accident on the trip.

Storstrømsbroen: Uffe and Mathias clock 10.15 knots as they surf towards the bridge. High YEEHHAAAs wake the rest.

Farøbroen: We’re last among the 6, but close to DEN 96 and DEN 431. High spirits – we’re in familiar waters from last year and looking forward to some slalom sailing.

Ulvsund: Legendary slalom crossing with lots of sand banks. Fred sets the course straight through a narrow, but not marked pass. We cross our fingers and slips through without hitting the bottom just behind DEN 96 and DEN 431. We immediately set the spinnaker and close in on the others.

Kalvehave: Last calling point. We’re still 9. We pass DEN 431 and yell C YA! Both crews laugh and joke, but ironically its going to be the last we see of them. Mathias prepares a fine meal of steak and potato salad like last year. We even get a glass of red wine – what a world-class chef.

Bøgestrømmen: We’re happy to register how well the boat has been doing. We’ve had but minor material problems and the speed has been surprisingly well, which we’re about to prove. A couple of fast decisions and fine spinnaker handling sends us flying pass DEN 96 and S 62 with DEN 88 and DEN 243 not far away in the distance. From here on it is spinnaker with medium S-wind and 5-7 knots all the way back home – the race and excitement is certainly picking up.

Stevns: We pass DEN 88 as they have spinnaker trouble in the dark. To our surprise DEN 243 heads out east and we suddenly seems to be in the lead of the pack.

Amager: We have a beautiful sunset right on the Øresundsbro. DEN 243 is still in the lead, we’re still second but DEN 88 and S 62 are close behind. Fred, Uffe and Anton have been up all night and even though we’re beginning to get tired, the adrenalin is keeping us awake. This is close combat and we’re not going to lose this.

Copenhagen: Sudden rain storms send the spinnakers down, but only for minimum period of time. All boat crews are on ready alert and looking for every opportunity to punish every minor mistake.

Øresund: Slowly but surely DEN 88 gains on us. It’s the final run and everybody are wide awake.

Kronborg: Drama. We’re following DEN 243 closely and both he and we rounds a marker on starboard instead of port, which the rules clearly say. DEN 88 instantly protests from behind – but we can’t believe our eyes. He’s right of course, but since we run before the wind, it has no effect on our course or time. It’s just a matter of going left or right and we can’t believe he’s going to punish us for such a minor. The next surprise happens right in front of us. DEN 243 decides to drop the spinnaker and sets the genoa and they slow down immediately.

Finish line: We’re very close to DEN 243 – and DEN 88 is too close to us. in the end DEN 243 crosses just 20 sec before us and we beat DEN 88 by just 5 secs. It’s been a fantastic race and we’re extremely proud of our achievement. But is DEN 88 really serious?

Helsingør habour: The protest is for real and we rightfully get a 1 hour punishment. Thus did we get a good and a bad ending. DEN 88, whom we'd been battling for more than 9 hours, decided to send us down to an overall number
9 for a minor, but rightful mistake. But he's never going to get us down for real we came in 6th and we beat him with 5 secs. That¹s how we'll always remember Sjælland Rundt 2004.

Anton Greiffenberg, Copenhagen 21 June 2004

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