Nordseewoche 2013

(c) H.Franck/

Far from champagne sailing but still a class of it’s own. This year’s edition of the annual Nordseewoche was dominated by cold temperatures, fog and shifty conditions and therefore lived up to its reputation of being one of the most challenging regattas in the German racing schedule. The Nordseewoche – traditionally held off Heligoland during the Whitsun break – regularly attracts both keen offshore racers and moderate cruising sailors to take part in a unique sailing event. With an entry list exceeding 150 yachts, this 79th edition of the Nordseewoche proofed to be no exception. After the feeder race from Hamburg to Cuxhaven on Friday had been cancelled due to very low visibility, it was uncertain whether the competitors of the Semi-professional “Earlybird-Series” would be given a start on Friday evening. But, against all odds, the fog disappeared and a classical coastal race from Cuxhaven to Heligoland was started as scheduled on Friday evening, leaving the racing yachts to handle with a force nine wind forecast for the German bay. It was long after midnight when the boats arrived at Heligoland, crews and yachts safe and sound, but shaken and uprightly tired. For the rest of the fleet, conditions had lightened when the yachts left the feeder ports for their race to the red sandstone island lying approximately 30 nm off the German coast. The huge number of starting groups showed various, but happy and content winners after a fair race through the German bay. On Whitsun Sunday, the “Capitell Rund Helgoland-Cup” would led the yachts around the islands of Heligoland. Fog and tricky wind conditions demanded for great seamanship and concentration to keep the pace of this full-on coastal race. The crews reacted in an exemplary manner to these challenging conditions and the race organisers did a tremendous job in keeping the overview whilst struggling with the extremely low visibility. According to this demanding day of racing, the crews celebrated up until the early morning in the infamous Nordseehalle. Unfortunately, the weather remained cold and foggy throughout the night with no evidence of improvement at sight on Whitsun-Monday. All races scheduled for this last day of competition had to be cancelled due to low visibility and a total lack of wind. In harsh contrast to the general low winds of the actual Nordseewoche, the biannual race to Edinburgh truly lived up to its reputation of being a challenge of its own. Winds gusting up tp 50 knots led to many yachts retiring and looking for shelter. With air-temperatures dropping to around 5 degrees and a fierce sea state, only five out of 21 competitors arrived at the Firth of Forth off Edinburgh. With the 80th jubilee lying ahead for next year, the Nordseewoche remains a solid constant in both the German racing schedule and the Baltic Circuit series. Picture Credit: H.Franck/