The second Thousand Island Race from the sailing club of Rijeka to Porto Montenegro will be hard to forget. Winds varied wildly along the Croatian coast from complete calm at the start to strong “Bura” winds raging to over 70 knots, resulting in two broken masts, several torn sails, but luckily no injuries.
In the battle for the top position Esimit Europe 2, as the fastest boat in the race, was ahead of the storm and with a somewhat weaker wind, were only able to get to the finish line at Porto Montenegro in 38:24:08 hours.
This was well behind last year’s record set by Hungarian Wild Joe of 28:41:06 hours. Many of the crew said this was probably one of the hardest races they had done in their sailing careers. Before the second leg from Tivat to Rijeka, competitors were able to take part in a regatta around the beautiful Boka Bay which was joined by the Yacht Club’s Blu 26’s.
What was surprising was that we won our class and what was truly surprising was that we also won overall on handicap! A wonderful achievement considering we were a scratch crew consisting of Helena Brandejsova from the Czech Republic, Peter Wilkie, UK, Marko Marinovic, Croatia and of course me. Marko, who I only met the morning of the race proved to be an inspiration to us all, an ex-professional yachtsman he was an invaluable tactician who also taught us that a spinnaker can be very versatile sail in the right hands. When the overall results were published we then realised that we had beaten Esimit Europa 2 which is one of the fastest and technologically most advanced sailing yachts in the world with a maximum speed of over 38 knots. It was skippered by Jochen Schumann who has three Olympic golds and one silver medal to his name and was also part of the team that won the 2003 and 2007 America’s Cup.
At the presentation ceremony Tony Browne, a director of Porto Montenegro responsible for the marina, Tony Browne, Director of Porto Montenegro said in his opening speech that he envisaged the Thousand Islands Race will eventually hold as much interest in the yachting world as the Sidney to Hobart race. This one however, will always be memorable to our team.