SailBook Cup 2013 from s/y Słoni

This is the first report of the longest, most challenging regatta in Poland – straight from the smallest participating boat – Słoni, under the command of Zbyszek Rembiewski.

Pegaz 800 certainly was not designed for typical sea racing: without autopilot, with three people on-board, but it was the second boat overall which crossed the finish line in Visby, just after Pavlenko! As a competitor, I must admit: Zbyszek, great job! The second stage, nice weather, and a little clap for our typical marine yachts.


I wrote that on Saturday just after the last boast crossed the finish line. I guess that everyone has his own “happy ending” of the regatta, but I would like to share with you my own.

Why I decided to start, if Słoni was not made for long-distance regatta (because of its length), in the open sea, when it’s huge probability (almost certainly), that we will have to fight against some opposite waves? Well, it was kind of revenge for me after the last season, when I had to retire from the race. But, and maybe foremost, I was my inner need to check myself in the longest regatta in Poland.

Sztaudynger, author of epigrams and philosopher, wrote a prayer for those at my age: “Oh Lord, omniscient helmsman, don’t let us be nuts and let every old gaffer beat his own kinks.” I still pretend that it’s not about me.

In my opinion the race, with a lap around Gotland, increase to one of the most prestigious regatta on the coast, despite its very short history. You want a proof? See how the number of participants increased. This year, 10 boats have finished 500 miles of the route.

So, let’s start from the beginning. We were able to run from Warsaw on Friday, so we reached Górki Zachodnie after 10.00 p.m. and we thought, that won’t have an opportunity to try that famous boar. Surprise! Boar didn’t disappear and we could taste it. We were thinking about the taste of buckwheat with sauce during the whole first stage. Our crew: me (undersigned), Ania (Słoni’s strength during the race since MP 2009) and Artur (it is his “come back”, since he left Optimist). Perfect, just enough to make it, and not to poach on one’s preserve.

Some cleaning stuff, last checking, and time for the briefing.

The briefing was short and factual. In a few words: start at 12.00, you should write it down, when you enter to Visby, get some rest (not less than 12 hours) and go ahead, if you want, but you have to write down the time when you left the harbour, take a lap around the island and when you reach the finish line in Górki Zachodnie, write it down. It’s simple. Yeah, but considering the whole week – nothing more, nothing less.

Our fleet looked like greyhounds let loose when we moved forward, the wind was nice and favourable, beautiful sunshine…

We felt the value of the challenge thanks to the presence of Czarodziejka and Major, which escorted us.

The beginning was great, average speed during the first 12 hours: 6,9 knots. We could use our spinnaker in the evening and we started to fly with 7-8 knots, while the wind was getting stronger, and we saw the storm is coming all over the southern horizon.

It was already dark when the spectacle turned into a drama – we saw lightnings and when they got bigger, it was a sign that the storm is getting closer. But in the morning it was clear that it couldn’t reach us – it was too weak. Unfortunately, just like the wind.

The day first ended at the southern tip of Gotland and we thought that we will reach Visby soon. But the wind was very tricky and we crossed the entrance to the harbour (barely) at second day. We didn’t have any idea how our opponents are getting along, so it was a big, and nice, surprise, when we found that only Sergei from Blagodarnost II arrived to the harbour. Barnaba and Quick Livener came shortly after us.

We began official stopover and we waited for the other participants. There were a lot of things to do. We found out that the Middle Ages Week is running on in the city, and there were a lot of fans all over the Europe. We rented some bikes and we took part in it.

Sea Bee, Resumee and Facil came in the evening. We watched them from the cliffs over the bay. The sun, the wavy sea, yachts under the spinnakers – unforgettable view, almost from bird’s eye.

We decided to start at midnight from Monday to Thursday, so we were first. We thought it was a great time for the start when at 00.07 in the fresh breeze we were passing by harbour entrance (we’ve heard forecast an ice-cream parlour).

But during the next few hours we saw how our coming back is going to be.

It was a castling: moderate wind, calm, new fresh breeze, high wind so we had to drop our spinnaker and go on. We had about 6 such a castling’s during the route, including two long-lasting calms in the morning. There was also some short calm at night.

In the morning we started to take a lap around Faro, to reach the highest point of the route circa 11.00 a.m. I had a “slip-up” while navigating – it was unnecessary to sail shallows limit, and I cottoned on when we saw how Blagodarnost is cutting the depths near the headland.

We lost about 1-1,5 hour. After we passed the headland by we started a ride to the south under the strong wind, which caused huge wave and we had to reef. Our speed was 5-6 knots, but after hitting wave it decreased to 3 knots. It was not so bad after all, the course was along the island, and we had some progress.

The situation changed  until the evening, the wind was stronger, so it paid off to change tack and go to SSE, but then the wind went more weak and with no waves, our speed was 2-3 knots, and finally we got stuck. That’s how we passed the first day and the first night. The next day, on Wednesday August 7, we repeated castling with our spinnaker (look above). But we reached to the platform somehow. We passed it after midnight and the wind forgot to blow, again… Fortunately, there was no wave so the feeble blow moved us slowly forward.

In the morning our phones were again at the service area, so we thought that we were close to the coast, but we couldn’t see it because of the fog. Our GPS confirmed us in our thoughts, although with my settings we had some 10 miles extra. When the sun came along and the fog disappeared, the bay welcomed us with wind and full sun. Unfortunately, we had two wind cycles.

We reached the entrance at 4.07 p.m., on Thursday. Just after crossing the finish line we forgot about the nerves and we enjoyed the moment. 500 miles behind us and the result? We will see..

Zbyszek Rembiewski

In the afterword, I would like to write about the highest level of security, that we all implemented in the regatta. We were obligated always to wear vest on-board. Walking on the bow at night only with security lines, there had to be always two people on-board, when third is sleeping, the helmsman had to wear security line at night. During those three days we had to keep an eye on our sleeping time. It would be unacceptable that we all have a great time during the day, and during the night we fight with a need to fall asleep.

And something from the crew:

I thought that would be worth to mention, that we had those yellowbricks and about support from the land just after the coverage appeared. It was great, our friends told us yesterday, that they turned on their computers in the morning to check the situation and they involved their colleagues from work etc. We found out, that we were followed by huge number of supporters from land, and not only by such fanatics like my father (Jacek Nejman), who kept score of each and every boat, and interrupted his work every 30 minutes to check the tracking, and our friends, who started their day with the checking situaton at sea.