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2019 Thousand Islands Race - Leg 1

by SCOR 26 Sep 2019 12:58 BST 19-29 September 2019
7th Thousand Islands Race 2019 © Karlo Kraljic

The first leg of 7th Thousand Islands Race that started at noon on Sunday 22nd September from Rijeka Harbour on 278 NM long course among more than thousand Adriatic islands to the finish line to marina Porto Montenegro in Tivat could in short be described as: "from lull to lull". However, between two calms at the start and the finish, there was everything that makes offshore racing interesting and demonstrates why this is one of the most beautiful race courses nature designed. Fleet not numerous but profoundly international consisting of crews form Austria, Croatia, Great Britain, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Hope many sailors had that bura (NE) in Rijeka after four consecutive days before regatta began would stay, proved to be wishful thinking and tradition of starting in lights air prevailed. Optimistic was the prognosis calling for jugo (SE) over almost entire course the first two days into the race, meaning a lot of close hauled sailing and longer route. However, as long as there is wind sailors are happy. Boats speeds that could be traced on the Internet in real time more significantly increased only after passing island Rab.

Forecasted jugo reached 15 knots with gusting 20 knots. In the first part of the race three retirement occurred. First one was due to mast falling down of Austrian Sayg I the only multihull competing with luckily no injury for its two crew members and this meant end of the race for them and stop at Punat.

Injury requiring medical assistance but not serious, happened to a crew member of Austrian Abracadabra forcing her to stop in Biograd. Bad news continued and Croatian Mowgli lost its mast at Žirje island and forced them to retire. Mowgli luckily without any injury to the crew, first called at Kapri island and next morning continued to Tribunj.

Last year winner Slovakian Lucia X with Croatian crew ripped foresail that required crew to climb up the mast needing course detour find shelter to complete repairs. This caused loss of valuable time and chance of good result on the first leg.

Rest of the fleet was sailing with SE avoiding several local thunderstorms before jugo (SE) gave way in the middle Adriatic to forecasted tramontana (N) and north westerly. Four boats Slovenian Macropus, Austrian Vento Cadela, Slovakian Lucia X and British Atame with Italian crew on board were exchanging lead. Hungarian Sunday Morning, the biggest in the fleet was the only one choosing course close to the shore through Zadar channel and north of Korcula and Mljet islands. Weather conditions almost ideal until Dubrovnik and Cavtat turned into lull from the beginning of the story. Almost all night from Tuesday to Wednesday before and after entry of Bay of Boka Kotorska boats were crawling at speed of 1-2 knots.

First boats came close to finish around six o'clock on the Wednesday morning but they needed more than three hours for few last NM. SLovenian Macropus and Austrian Vento Cadela were match racing using every breath of the wind available. At the end Macropus crossed the finish line first at 09:34:13 after more then 69 hours of racing making this the slowest first leg in the history of Thousand Isalnds Race. Austrian Vento Cadela with Christian Pfann at the helm crossed the line 12 minutes later and that was enough to win the race under corrected time and very soon became apparent no other boat still racing could endanger their overall lead.

Long lasting first leg caused cancellation of Thousand Islands Race + 2 planned in Bay of Boka Kotorska for the layover between two legs. There will be almost no rest for Montenegrin Sofia that finished last because start of second leg follows soon - at noon on Thursday 26th September 2019.

Full results available here.

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