The wind gods have prepared a challenge for the participants in the Garmin Round Denmark Race offshore, which starts from Esbjerg on Thursday, August 3, at 4:00 PM.
The start appears to be an upwind beat on flat water for the first 1.5 nautical miles of the race. From there, it looks like a reach for about 6.5 nautical miles as the boats bear away on a southwestern course at approximately 235 degrees. The two short legs will remain on flat water as the "one way out" route is in a channel that is constantly dredged. Participants should not attempt to cut the corners as the risk of running aground is significant. From here, it's the end of the flat water as they head into the North Sea, where a 10 m/s wind from the north-northeast is expected.
The next challenge is passing through Denmark's westernmost point, Blåvandshuk. Participants must choose whether to take the shorter route through Søren Bovbjergs Dyb, with the hazards of Ulven and Søren Bovbjerg Knob to the east and a series of unnamed shoals to the west. Alternatively, they can head offshore on a starboard tack to go around Horns Rev wind farm, approximately 30 nautical miles to the west. Choosing the shorter route means sailing upwind beating against the wind but with the current. The waves will most likely feel more "square" than round shaped. Furthermore the tacking will - due to the shallow areas - be dictated routing. On the other hand, going around Horns Rev will require a southerly course and a very long beat on starboard before reaching the westernmost marks of the wind farm.
From tough to tougher
After Blåvandshuk, it goes from tough to tougher. While the sailors head north, a wind system with gusts of gale force moves southwards. It looks like a longlasting meeting between sailors and wind from Friday morning to Saturday morning. Expect to pass places like Thyborøn, Hanstholm, Hirtshals, and Jammer Bugt while the wind presses through.
"I would go offshore to get some water under the keel and some distance from the coast. I won't interfere with where one should go offshore, but it should be done before the wind hits hard. I know it's going to hurt for those who choose to go offshore if there are other boats staying closer to the coast. But listen, it's much calmer out there. Instead of struggling upwind close to the shore in the gale with waves being pushed back from the coast, you can take it easier offshore and maybe even get some ease on the sheets when the wind shifts during the period," says the experienced solo sailor and fisherman Erik Venøbo, who, among other things, was the creator of the first versions of the Round Denmark Race know as Danmark Rundt, which was sailed as a stage race.
We will, of course, keep an eye on the developments in the weather forecasts and talk to the sailors about their route choices. The start in Esbjerg will be live on Facebook from 3:55 PM. You can also follow the participants in the Garmin Round Denmark Race via tracking from TracTrac.