by Louay Habib 

The inaugural IRC Baltic circuit has received worldwide acclaim. The initiative by leading owners associations in northern Europe has broken down the barriers between a group of countries to provide an impressive list of competitors with a huge variety of racing. Eleven events across six countries make up the IRC Baltic Circuit which kicks off in May this year and runs right through until October.

Boats from Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Sweden will compete over a variety of events.  The vast range of yachts competing come from the drawing boards of the best production and custom yacht designers from around the world.

All of the events are already established; many have been running for years. But the goal of the organisers is to promote the competition of international offshore sailors right across the Baltic and North Sea and to motivate the competitors to compete in neighbouring countries.

David Aisher's Rogers 46, Yeoman XXXII will be racing for the second season in the Baltic with his British based crew.

"It is a great sailing area, we had a fantastic time in the Baltic Sprint 2008. And there is the added bonus of some great cruising grounds. It is also a new and often unexplored area, for me it is a change of venue and a chance to meet new people.

The facilities at the clubs we visited last year are excellent and we were well received by the locals, enjoying great food and hospitality. The events that make up the IRC Baltic Circuit have a selection of well sailed boats, both racing and cruising, it will be tough to win." commented David.


Yeoman XXXII at the finish

Each of the eleven events has its own winners but the IRC Baltic Circuit will be providing the Hanseboot Award. The two best results will be assessed for each yacht, taking into account the size of the participating field. The IRC rating system is being used to give fair comparisons across a variety of boats, sailing at different events and in varied conditions.

Furthermore, extra points will be awarded for crews who participate in races of at least two different countries, this will promote competitors to travel with the side-affect of increasing numbers at the inshore regattas close to the offshore events.

Four of the events in the IRC Baltic Circuit are in Danish waters including the Pantanius Rund Skagen. The 510 nautical mile offshore race starts on May 24th from the tiny island of Helgoland in the North Sea and rounds the Danish mainland of Jutland, passing through the Sund between Sweden and Denmark before finishing in Kiel, Germany. 65 yachts took part last year and the event has been included in the Class 40 calendar for 2010.

The  Dansk Sejlunion is the latest national sailing authority to join the IRC Congress, Flemming Nielsen commented; "The Danish events have both round the cans and offshore regattas were conditions vary, especially the weather. The Dansk Sejlunion chose to race IRC because it is the simplest way to facilitate across borders and that is exactly the same reason that it was chosen for the Baltic circuit."

The IRC Baltic Circuit is looking like a very competitive initiative between some well sailed and well designed cruiser racers. No doubt the organiser's attempts to encourage yachts to travel will create some fascinating cross border rivalries in the months to come. 




Big Boat Challenge



Pantaenius Rund Skagen



Fyn Rundt



Faedern Race



Baltic Sea Challenge



Hanseboot Offshore



Eurocard Gotland Rundt



Gothenburg Offshore Race



IRC Championship Finland



Flensburger Fördewoche



KDY Autumn Regatta