Bouwe Bekking and his crew of young Polish sailors took line honours in the first leg of the Prologue, the feeder race to The Ocean Race Europe organised by The Ocean Race’s northern Europe-based teams.
A small flotilla of support boats was out on the water to see the four offshore ocean racing yachts cross the start line at Klaipeda, Lithuania. The close start provided plenty of excitement for the spectator fleet, as the VO65’s raced across the line heading towards the first turning mark, some 93nm to the west.
Tight racing saw Sailing Poland taken the initial lead averaging speeds of over 20knots for the first few hours. Ambersail 2 managed to edge ahead and gain the lead, and it appeared that the race was going to be a two-way tussle between the Polish and Lithuanian teams.
However, the Dutch/Swedish flagged Team Childhood soon got into the mix, passing Ambersail 2 and putting pressure on the veteran Bekking as the boats headed into the Bay of Gdansk.
Despite the first leg of the Prologue being a 115nm sprint, and the teams completing the leg in under 20 hours, the close racing has provided a real taste of what is to come for the remainder of the Prologue and The Ocean Race Europe, which is due to start on 29th May from Lorient, France.
The Prologue will restart from Gdynia, Poland on Wednesday 12th May, and the four teams will race to Stockholm, a 300-mile race north to the Swedish capital.