The five-strong Volvo Baltic Race fleet are preparing for a rough ride on the second offshore race which started last night

It was a test of stamina yesterday evening in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the five-strong Volvo Baltic Race fleet as they started the second offshore race of the series in pouring rain and 18 knots of easterly breeze. Gales are forecast for the 140nm leg to Kiel in Germany, which will take about 20 hours and could be mostly upwind.

Young starting helmsman, Swedens’s Emil Wiberg (21), made another spectacular start on Avant (M Lundh/SWE & W Verbraak NED) from AV-Teknik (CRO) on port tack. Elanders (M Humphries UK) matched raced Sony Ericsson (T Blixt SWE) at the back of the fleet and beat them across the line by 15 seconds. JMS Next Generation (KI Heiberg NOR) played it safe and crossed in third place, with Elanders making up ground on her rapidly as the fleet headed towards the first mark of the course.

Elanders’ Kiwi helmsman Ray Davies commented just before the start: “The boat is in top shape. The crew are rested, but it’s going to be an extremely rough trip to Kiel.” Davies will share the driving with skipper Matthew Humphries and fellow Kiwi, Cameron Appleton.

Thomas Blixt/Sony Ericsson (SWE) is expecting a tough race. “It’s going to be really hard weather,” he grimaced. “On the rail the whole way, no coffee, no food and rain, rain, rain. The hard part will be to keep the boat alive the whole way round.” Blixt chases series leader, Elanders, by just half a point.

Most of the crew on third-placed JMS Next Generation from Norway are under 30. Skipper/navigator Kjell-Inge Heiberg was optimistic: “I’m looking forward to this race. I would prefer the wind to be from behind, like everyone else, but that’s all part of sailing. We’ll try to do our best regardless of the wind direction.”

Work has been ongoing on Avant, (equal fourth). “We’re happy,” said co-skipper Mikael Lundh. “We’ve repaired our headboard car, but it looks like we’ll be reefed for most of the trip.” Lundh brings onboard Dutch sailor, Gerd Jan Poortman, to beef up their offshore experience.

Zvonko Besic, co-skipper of AV-Teknik, is prepared for the worst: “Our boat is better downwind or in lighter airs” he said, adding “but unfortunately it’s upwind. We’ll have fun though. That is what we are here for. “Anders Carlberg from Sweden, part of AV-Teknik afterguard along with owner/co skipper Marko Murtic (CRO), laughed: “This is not sailing, this a watersport”. The rest of AV-Teknik crew are predominantly youngsters under 26.

Positions (after two legs)

1 Team Elanders (Matthew Humphries, UK) 7.0 points

2 Sony Ericsson (Thomas Blixt, Swe) 6.5 points

3 JMS Next Generation (Stefan Eneman, Swe/Kjell-Inge Heiberg, No) 4.5 points

4 AV Teknik (Marko Murtic, Cro) 2.0 points

4 Avant (M Lundh, Swe/W Verbraak, Ned) 2 points