The offshore regatta, launched by the Polish Yacht Club last year, has a special meaning. It’s not only the exam of the art of sailing, but also our response to foreign regatta. After the Danish island of Bornholm in the last year, the island of Gotland was chosen, the wonderful and famous because of the ruins in its capital – Visby. This year, the route of the race was longer, more difficult and led by the „heart” of the Baltic Sea, away from the ship trails.
Only a half of yachts from previous edition showed up at the start line. There was no winner of the last edition „Jurand”, which has to go abroad, there was no one from the RP Officers Yacht Club or Academic Maritime Association. But there were yachts from Maritime Centre P.U.W.F.
Judges of the race were sailing on the boat „Junak” and scouts, real wolf cubs, were a part of the crew of the „Pirate” of Gdansk.
It was a strange race.
Without the prizes, splendor, representation, chairman’s speeches or the audience. Oh, modest ceremony, sailors, who do not care about the cups and slugs and take a part in the bloodless battle for their own satisfaction.
However, there should be a little more advertising. The sea sport is too aloof from the masses of society, it should be shown closely. This role is partly fulfilled by the cinema („Themida 1” had a cameraman on board), but it was not enough. Even in Gdynia, overfilled by the events, there would be some audience, eager to see the start of a serious race.
Yacht crews were recruited from among the sailors of Gdynia. The exception was the „Themida l”, where the crew was completed among Warsaw clubs.
The rush started 3 days before they left – checking up the rigging, repairing sails, sealing the deck, retrofitting navigation equipment, checking deviation, compass etc.
The real big-whig was „Themida l”, 36 tons of a beautiful schooner with impressive 20-meter mast and beautiful line. The captain of the boat was General Zaruski and the crew of Warsaw, proven many times, with a brave woman – Marysia Żurkowska – as a helmsman.
„According to an official racing calendar, the first race form Gdynia to Bornholm was supposed to be repeated exactly in the same form in the following year. Meanwhile, in the 1934 more appealing route Gdynia – Visby was chosen instead.
The chairman od PSA Zaruski, started in the first offshore race form Gdynia to Visby on the boat named „Temida I”, Romuald Tymiński, known as „Bej”, came on „Temida II” and Michał Laudański was the skipper of „Witeź”.
A beautiful sloop named „Kneź”, newly bought by the Tadeusz Gerwel and Teofil Bochiński from Gdynia’s company, and unknown yacht called „Szalony” appeared on the start line.
The following year on June 30th, eight Polish yachts sailed from Gdynia to Visby. To those from previous years (except „Szalony”), joined: „Albatros” Zdzisław Józewicz and Stefan Jankowski (lawyers of Gdansk), „Korsarz” and „Pirat” from the PKM and „Mohort” from Gdynia OYK.
The first yacht on the finish line in Visby was „Themida II” (from all two-masted boats) and „Witeź” (from one-masted boats). „Albatross” stuck on the rocks and came to Visby by using the engine – the consequence was that he was disqualified.
President of Petelenz sailed on „Korsarz” as a guest of honor and when he reached the finish line in Visby, he went among the other 18. Polish sailors to Farosund at the congress of yachting for representatives of Baltic countries, which was convened by the Swedes.
Together they decided, that every year in mid-July they will organize the regatta around the Gotland (Runt Gotland) for cruising yachts, with the 170 miles of route, at least. The main prize of the race was supposed to be Baltic Cup, funded by the Swedish Sailing Association. The first race, which was suppose to take place in 1936, was cancelled because of the Olympic Games in Kiel and took place in 1937.
The decision about changing the date first international Baltic regatta from 1936 to 1937 proved to be lucky for Polish sailors, because they were able to take a part in it on modern and brand new cruising yachts, which arrived from Hamburg in 1936.
So, although the crews hadn’t much time for trimming and training before spring 1937, PSA reported pięć new cruising yachts: „Bożena”, „Goplana” and „Rusałka”, with 50 m2 of sail area, „Admirał” and „Hetman” (both with 80 m2 of sail area) and „Wojewoda Pomorski” – a former racing yacht. 50ies and 80ies took part in first Gdynia – Visby regatta. The winner was „Bożena”, led by Tadeusz Gorazdowski, and „Hetman”, commanded by Jerzy Błeszyński.
In the first race around Gotland Poland issued six boats, Swedes twelve, Germans eighteen and dozen yachts were from six other countries. July 7th, at 8:00 a.m. almost half a hundred yachts took part in the race with 250 miles to go. It was a debut of Polish sailors in such a serious maritime competition of cruising yachts. However, from six boats only one Polish yacht – „Goplana”, skippered by Ludwik Lichodziejewski – won a silver trophy for second place in its class, which should be regarded as a very good result. During the return from Visby to Gdansk, eleven yachts took part in improvised regatta: four from Poland, five from Gdansk and two from Germany. „Hetman” won the race.
Five Polish yachts competed in Runt Gotland, in July 1939. It was a beautiful victory of „Admirał”, skippered by excellent yacht racer, YKP Jerzy Jurah-Giedroyc, who died heroically the same year in September. Also „Panna Woda”, led by Alfred Strużyna, had a reason to celebrate, by taking fourth place in its class.
„Since 1934, the YKP Maritime Branch has organized the annual regatta to Visby, which became its permanent tradition. Another Polish Yachtclubs from Gdynia are also taking part in it, just like the Maritime Club of Gdansk. The date of the race always coincides with the start-up date of the Round Gotland regatta, organized every second year, to allow Polish yachts to participate in the Swedish race too. In 1935, the YKP Maritime Branch achieved great success by winning 66% of the awards in this season.
In the same year, the yacht „Kniaź”, owned by Dr. Tadeusz Gerwel and Dr. Theofil Bochiński and led by the former one, took second place in the race to Visby and at the end of the race, he went to Stockholm, Helsinki and Tallinn. On the way back, „Kniaź” had to face the storm with the wind force 8-12 on the Beaufort Scale. During the battle with the storm, the boat suffers a multiple sail tearing and many other failures, such as floating anchor snap due to bursting of its moorings. At the end of the fifth day, after noticing the land in the distance and with the possibility of leaving the boat into the sea – the crew is making a gybe for stay, during which the left backstay breaks at the top of the 18m mast. To prevent breakage, the boat returns to the previous position, tack on starboard, while continuing its course to drift to the land. At midnight on June 26, after finding themselves significantly closer to the shore, the crew is making the rescue rafts from the equipment and to prevent, or delay the collision with the land, the captain Gerwel thrown the anchor overboard with around the 60-meter of chain, but he was washed away from the deck. The brave crew rescued the captain and pulled him on a boat again, but after one hour, the yacht was thrown at the shallows by the Curonian Spit, near the town Sarkau, north of Konigsberg. The anchor did its job, because it grabbed the bottom of the shoals and thanks to stretched chain prevented the boat to hit the bottom of the shoals, despite the huge wave. The crew: captain Teofil Bochiński, Janusz Kalwe, Gudrun Bochińska and Maria Gerwel, had surivived without any help. The Polish press informed about the incident with „Kniaź”. The strength of the storm was evidenced by the fact, that the local German police had to create a bike relay race to notify the Polish consular authorities in Königsberg, because the storm overturned telephone poles and broke telegraph wires between Sarkau and Konigsberg.”
28 boats at the start – great regatta in Gdynia
The regatta of the Gdynia Yacht Club attracted a record number of 28 yachts, so far not listed in Poland before, which were competing in four categories.
In the first scout class winner was boat No. 3 skippered by Mr Szymański.
In the second type – yacht marine center, the first was a yacht „Czajka” with Mr Brzeżewicz as a helmsman.
In the third class of club yachts, the winner was „Śmigły” of an Officers Yacht Club with Navy lieutenant, Kasperski by the helm.
The fourth class victory belongs to the yacht „Hoffnung” of Gdansk, skippered by Mr Sielef. During the regatta there was a strong wind, up to 6 degrees, and rough sea. Despite that, all participants finished the competition in good shape.