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"We gonna open the North Sea"

Photo: Peter Brøgger // Garmin Round Denmark Race

Press release 20 May 2022

In a month, the participants in Denmark's by far the toughest racing are in full swing with this year's challenge. Read here where we review parts of “Racing Instructions” and take a closer look at the new offshore course, where especially the participants on the singlehand coourse need to show what they are made of.

Earlier this week, the Garmin Round Denmark Race announced the sailing regulations, the so-called Racing Instruction, which describe in detail what the participants can expect and what tactical options they have in the battle to get through the 760 nautical mile long track that has Esbjerg as its starting city and Aarhus as a destination city. The distance let alone makes race one of the longest and toughest of its kind.

The startline is close to the shore off Esbjerg Marina. From here to bearing will be west / northwest to Ringkøbing Dyb where the current runs strong. Here, the participants come past Denmark's westernmost point Blåvandshug. From here it is sailing on the North Sea or Vesterhavet (The western sea) as we Danes call the stretch along the west coast of Jutland. The finale on the true offshore part is the dreaded Skagerrak. From here, double-hand and fully crew round Skagen, while the single-handed sailors get a much-needed stop before they also head down in Kattegat with a course towards Elsinore/Helsingør.

- With the Garmin Round Denmark Race offshore, we are trying to set a new track. To my knowledge, Vesterhavet has never been used before for fleet racing under Danish auspices. And certainly never for single-handed racing. There is an ingrained fear in many Danes of sailing on the North Sea. I think many sailors look at the map and see waters like Horns Reef and Jammer Bay and let the past play them a trick. They forget that the sailing ships that ran aground in the old days went 80 degrees to the wind and even had a huge drift. Back then, even experienced navigators got lost when the currents led them astray. At the same time, the locals lit bonfires on the shore to lure the sailors in their ships and with their cargo ashore. Beaching trade ships was part of the economy on the west coast in those days, but that is no longer the case. Today, all sailing boats go easily 45 degrees to the wind, everyone has lots of electronics and safety equipment on board and should an accident hit, the residents on the west coast will not wait with bonfires and long knives on the beach , but rather be coming to rescue those in distress. Therefore, we hope that with the Garmin Round Denmark Race we can help open up the west coast for recreational sailors. Of course, we also hope to inspire more established sailors who normally only participate in racing on the more protected inside of Jutland, says Morten Brandt from Shorthand ECM, who is co-organizer of the Garmin Round Denmark Race.

Singlehand starts with the king stage

For single-hand offshore sailors, sailing starts with the king stage on 15 June. It is comparable to a Tour de France stage out of category. Because the first leg is nonstop from Denmark's offshore capital Esbjerg, past Denmark's westernmost point Blåvandshug to Denmark's northernmost city Skagen. The distance is a full 200 nautical miles. There is no doubt that it can be a tough and exhausting leg up the west coast. The Event Regulations requires that you are an experienced single-handed sailor and that the participants fulfill the demands of the toughest requirements concerning safety equipment to enter the race. Among many other things, it is mandatory to have a life raft on board.

Should a participant have problems on the way from Esbjerg to Skagen, he / she can of course go to port, but the time spent going to port will not be reimbursed later, as is the case when sailing in the inshore Danish waters according to the rest time rule 44 / 8, which was introduced last year (max 36 hours non-stop followed by 8 hours break).

- Despite a lot of traffic and many obstacles, the North Sea is less congested than the inshore Danish waters. So the idea is that if there is wind, then the sailors come quickly to Skagen. If there is no wind, they manage with small power naps lasting 10 - 20 minutes. If there is a lot of wind, we encourage the participants to stay at sea rather than seek port, as a entering a harbour in rough conditions can be more risky than staying out on the sea, says Morten Brandt.

16 hours forced stop-over

When the singlehanded participants reach Skagen and their boats are moored, the race management stops the race timer and starts the rest timer. There is a mandatory rest period of 16 hours, which should ensure that the participants get recovered properly and at the same time have time to check the boat so it is also shipshape for the rest of the trip. After the 16 hours, the boat must drop the moorings and resume sailing. From here, the 44/8 rest time rule applies and thus the offshore participants sail on the same terms as the inshore participants, however, all offshore participants escape the Little Belt, as they go towards Aarhus through the Great Belt after passing Denmark's southernmost point Gedser.

Change of rules

In this year's Race Instructions, there are two interesting changes for participants in singlehand inshore and offshore. The first is a kind of joker that can be played once during the race, but it is not free to throw on the table. It is about complying with the rule of a maximum of 36 hours of non-stop sailing and a minimum of eight hours of rest. According to the 2022 rules, it is allowed to sail more than 36 hours, but less than 37, or rest less than eight, but more than seven hours. It's either or: you can not both sail 37 hours and reduce the rest time from eight to seven. Exceeding one or the other part of the 44/8 rule has the consequence that the following rest time stop is extended from eight to 10 hours. If a participant sails for more than 37 hours, or shortens his rest time to less than seven hours, the rule is violated, forcing the participant to withdraw from the race.

Game changer?

Finally, a rule has been introduced which means that the rest time rule lapses completely when a participant is 15 nautical miles from the destination port. On the inshore course, this means when a participant is approximately outside Hov Røn, while on the offshore course it is approximately a position between Tunø and Samsø.

Last year there were many disputes and complications. Agreements were made between the participants under the table and there were protests against the race management. Should the battle for victory again intensify this year, one can well imagine a situation where a participant plans his rest time, so that at the last stop either rest for only seven hours, or sail for 37 hours with the aim of reaching within the 15 nautical mile limit in time to repeal the rest time rule and thus waive the two hour time penalty that would otherwise fall.

The new tactical element will create extra excitement and may become crucial in the race. From Sailing Aarhus, which is responsible for the race management, everything is ready for the challenging task it will be from “the bridge” in Aarhus International Sailing Center to keep up with both the existing and the new rest time rules. There is no doubt that it will be exciting to follow the race.

Further information

Registration closes May 31

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