As 71st North Sea Week came to a close yesterday, a fleet of 31 yachts set sail on the 400-mile Edinburgh race

This year’s North Sea Week, Germany’s only offshore-regatta at the island of Helgoland, attracted 140 competing yachts.

Many others came to watch the traditional sailing event on Pentecost. A fleet of 31 yachts was waved good-bye for the long-distance race to Edinburgh. First participants are expected in Scotland on Thursday.

For three days, the red-rock-island of Helgoland was the centre of German offshore sailing. Organisers and sailors were very lucky with the weather conditions this year. Though the first race from Hamburg on early Friday morning had to be cancelled in lack of wind, the other races could be sailed in excellent conditions. The sailors felt almost a Caribbean touch, when on sunny Saturday, they were welcomed with a boat service offering Mount Gay Rum to the crews. Except Monday, the sun was shining, and the wind varied between Force 3-5.

Albert Schweizer, tactician of ‘Hanseatic Lloyd’ commented on the event. “A great North Sea Week – we really enjoyed some nice offshore-fights. Sailing in tidal waters and higher seas is always more challenging and fun!” The yacht, European IMS 600 Champion of 2003, owned by Christian Plump from Bremen, won race 5 on Sunday (second came the JV 49 ‘Unique’) as well as race 6 on Monday in IMS class 1 (second came ‘Varuna’, IMX-45). ‘Hanseatic Lloyd’ also wins the ‘Hans-Otto-Schümann – price’ for the best yacht combining the races 2, 5 and 6 in IMS Class 1.

The Elliot 45 ‘Outsider’ from Admiral’s Cup winner Tilmar Hansen started for the first time in Germany (ORC class). The former ‘Maverick’, winner of the Melbourne Osaka-Race was conditioned to get the first ship home title, which was finally done on Monday. Helmsman Tom Ross underlined, that the ‘Outsider’ is not made for the rating of such races, but added: ‘We had up to 15, 16 knots on the speedo. And it was really great fun!’

First ship home in Sunday’s race and therefore winner of the BHF Bank Cup Round Helgoland was ‘Unique’ (formerly known as ‘Rubin’).

Not so lucky, but to be mentioned, was the person celebrating a jubilee this year: 78-year-old Rudi Laessig from Bremerhaven, at his incredible 50th participation in the North Sea Week had to give up on Sunday because of a damage to his forestay. Only the day before he won the regatta from Bremerhaven to the island of Helgoland in IMS Class 4.

The 71st North Sea Week satisfied its reputation of being the celebration of the German offshore sailors on Pentecost. Approximately 1,000 yachties came to the island, and many, many spectators watched the races, and joined the big hanseboot-party on Saturday night. Hanseboot the boat show in Hamburg, already for ten years main sponsor of the North Sea Week, brought good news to the island: the engagement with the North Sea Week will be continued.

On Monday, after the fleet of 31 yachts started for the long-distance-race to Edinburgh, the time had come to say goodbye to the little island of Helgoland. The marina, for three days packed with yachts, looked almost desolated, and masses of people were walking towards the ferryboats to be brought back to the mainland.