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Anticipation builds at Alexela ORC World Championship 2021

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Anticipation builds at Alexela ORC World Championship 2021
Anticipation builds at Alexela ORC World Championship 2021

Despite today’s light and fluky air in Tallinn Bay, most of the 104 registered teams went out to participate in today’s practice racing of the Alexela ORC World Championship 2021. And while the wind was low, spirits are high here in the Pirita Marina with the assembly of this large fleet of boats returning to serious big boat racing. The pontoons and car parks are full of boats, sails, equipment, trailers and sailors hungry to get back out to sail after their pandemic hiatus.

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The event opened with a moving opening ceremony (photo below) where dozens of teams marched in a promenade to the stage venue behind their national flags, where Estonian 1988 Olympic 470 Silver medalists and 1992 Bronze medallists Tonu and Toomas Toniste lit the massive Olympic torch built here for when Tallinn hosted the 1980 Olympic sailing events.

“It’s fantastic to see everyone here come out to go racing again,” said Danish pro sailor Jes Gram-Hansen, who this week is racing with Michael Berghorn’s Mills 45 HALBTROCKEN from Germany. “We have had almost no racing in Denmark and Germany for over a year, so it’s great to be back sailing again at a large-scale competitive regatta like this.”

Similarly, Berlin-based Jens Kuphal on his modified Landmark 43 INTERMEZZO (right and above) was excited to be here and line up against 32 rivals from 9 nations in ORC Class B. He and key members of his team are coming off a recent win in the Oceans Race Europe in the IMOCA class, and are thus looking forward to tomorrow’s start to the Championship with a long offshore race.

“This boat was Claus Landmark’s SANTA [2018 Class B World Champion],” Kuphal explained, “And we did a major refit in the deck and the interior, so everything is ready to go. We did not have many opportunities to compete last year or this year, but we feel very good about the boat and the team.” Kuphal and his team were Silver medalists with this boat in the 2019 ORC European Championship in Oxelosund, Sweden.

He also acknowledged, however, there would be tough competition at this Worlds in Class B. “Today the guys on CLEAN ENERGY [Mati Sepp’s new locally-built E-44] looked fast in the light air,” he said, “but this will be a long week and anything can happen in offshore racing.”

The Championship starts tomorrow with a Skippers Briefing at 0830 for the Long Offshore Race powered by Tactical Foodpack, with the Warning Signal scheduled for 10:00 local time. Class A entries will be sent on a course of 200 or 216 miles in length, depending on the wind direction, the Class B course will be either 181 or 167 miles, and the Class C course will be either 147 or 143 miles in length. This course lengths were chosen to anticipate a race of at least 24 hours length to fulfill the ORC “Green Book” championship rules requirements. The remainder of the week will feature windward-leeward races and a short Coastal race.

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