Sunday 15th of July the 86 participants of The Hague Offshore Sailing World Championship start their offshore race. Starting at 11.00 hour and not getting back before Monday. Light winds are predicted, but the race comité expects to get both offshore races done.
Peter Anink is the brain behind the offshore course, he and his team had a real headache deciding on the courses. “The wind shifted a lot in the past few days, so we weren’t sure which of the many courses we had planned to choose.” On Friday Peter seemed happy with the course they picked, but then the wind shifted again and the team got back to the table for another course. “The course we’ve picked now, is actually the same as we picked on Friday.” The North Sea appears to be a big puzzle for sailors: “There are a lot of exclusion zones at the North Sea, with wind mills, shipping lanes and safety zones assigned by the coast guard. And because of the predicted light winds, we want to avoid for the participants to make a big loop around those zones. That’s why the offshore courses only go out of the coast for about 25 miles.” If someone decides to sail into the exclusion zone, the race committee will see this via the live tracking of Yellow Brick. They get a time punishment of 20%, and that’s quite a lot if you’re sailing for about 30 hours.
Although there’s only one official start, the offshore course has two races combined in one. The first race is about 60 miles for fleet B and C, 70 miles for fleet C. This race brings the participants to IJmuiden, where they continue in the second race. “In the second race the participants get double points, this course is 135 nautical miles (for fleet B and C) and 155 nautical miles (for fleet A) in length. The biggest challenges for the participants, is how to deal with the current and the wind coming from sea. Specially the sea winds can be really tricky to predict, you really have to stay alert and keep checking the speed and how it builds up.” Anink knows what he is talking about, he has years of experience on this water. “although it has happened before I believed the sea wind would come in around 1 PM, I checked the winds, kept on checking and then the sea wind didn’t came up until 5 PM. So it’s really hard to predict, you really have to keep an eye out.”