An Easter that falls in the latter half of April brings with it the promise of gorgeous weather and calmer winds. It is therefore an ideal time to take a couple of extra days’ vacation and spend four days on the sea. This year, a group of 46 crews found themselves drawn to the sea in order to experience a less traditional Easter. Of these, 40 participated in our fun-filled regatta.
How was the 4th Easter Cruise?
The Easter cruise is a now-traditional opportunity to meet people of similar interests, to spend an enjoyable time together (on various boats until the early hours) and to partake in races in a more relaxed environment. One is able to dine in any of a host of beautiful island restaurants, sunbathe – and some even bathe in the sea, the temperature of which is already becoming tempting :)
This year, the fourth of these legendary meetings of sailing enthusiasts took place. And how did this year's cruise unfold? Two of the racing days brought typically changeable April weather, from almost completely calm seas to winds of up to 20 kn. Challenges ranged from having to catch the slightest breeze to working with the sheets of the main sail in order to prevent the boat from accidentally changing course.
The first day of training and a party on Zlarin
On Friday morning we commandeered our boats and in the afternoon most crews took advantage of the opportunity to fit in some preparation. Many ships had less experienced captains, so it was important for them to train with the crew a little and get used to the winds so as not to embarrass themselves during the racing days.
Our crew sailed out of Biograd in the afternoon and practised manoeuvres for several hours. As dusk approached, a tailwind towed us towards Zlarin, where the first gathering of all the crews was to take place.
During the voyage, a moon emerged from beyond the horizon, the reddish-yellow disc shimmering above the surface of the water as we marvelled at the view. Such poetic sights on a cool, clear evening never cease to amaze me.
The red and green positional lights reflected off the water as the ship drifted soundlessly in the endless ocean. Only once the wind had weakened did we have to start the engine, thus breaking the spell of this magical moment of dusky sailing.
There were many vessels waiting for us on Zlarin and we were, of course, duty-bound to meet our social obligations! Though we arrived there at midnight, it was certainly not too late to join the party. There was still a lot of fun to be had on many boats, so our crew was involved in socialising for a while.
The early morning sun illuminated a long pier full of ships, and a thin mist above the surface evaporated under its warm rays. The crews woke up gradually, the scent of fried eggs escaping from the holds; a few yachtsmen rushed out along the island in the morning, and the most zealous even had a quick dip in the sea.
Walking along the pier, it was not difficult to tell who had been partying until dawn the night before. Almost all of them were veterans from previous years’ cruises.
The first racing day brought a surprise
Breakfast was served in the cockpits and then the morning calm was interrupted by the captains' meeting on the pier, which on this first day was not held until 10am. Calmer winds from the northwest and gloriously sunny weather promised a pleasant and relaxed day of yachting.
Setting sail, against the wind, took place without any fuss, and at first the racing boats led the way. However, their lead didn’t last long, as they were soon overtaken by the tourists on Dufour 445 PRGINO II; they had already taken the lead by the first turn, and thereafter won the first stage. Her captain, Gabriel Strba, put in a really superb performance and the crew’s win was most deserved.
The racing boats ended up behind this "tourist". Second and third place went to the racing boats First 40.7 CARMEN captained by Jirka Zindulka and Salona 38 PUNCH, skippered by Petr Bartos. It was a very close finish between the first three ships, and it was also very tight between the second group of boats.
Everyone really enjoyed this stage, several crews reporting that they had cooked lunch (even a sirloin steak!) during the voyage. Exactly as races should be 😊. After crossing the finish line, several boats docked and the crews bathed in the April Adriatic😊. Others headed for the marina and the fun started on the boats. After 7 o’clock, we moved to a restaurant in the marina where we had dinner together.
The dinner was excellent, and the prizes were awarded before dessert for each of the three categories: racing boats, over 41-foot tourist boats and under 41-foot tourist boats. The triumphant crew of the PRGINO II expressed unbridled joy at their victory. After dinner, the fun on the ships continued well into the night, until the marina staff insisted that the loudest crew turn down the volume of the music so as not to disturb the neighbours.
A second day of racing in changeable winds
Sunday morning was sunny, the sky cloudless, and the winds calm: in short, the promise was of another perfect day of yachting. The skipper meeting took place briefly at 9 am, after which everyone hurried to the starting line set up between the island of Visovac and the Prisnjak lighthouse. Anyone who arrived on time could already consider himself a winner😊.
At around 4 kn, the winds were very weak, though they seemed to be slightly stronger along the coast of Murter. As such, the main group of boats began to cross along the coast, and the racing boats soon got into the lead with so little wind hampering their progress.
About half an hour after the start the winds picked up across the sea. The group of boats started to thin and lengthen and at the first turning point of the island of Mrtovinjak, Salona 38 PUNCH found itself in first place, followed by First 40.7 CARMEN and then Salona 38 RUM.
The leading three remained the same up until the finish line, although CARMEN ran PUNCH close in the final stages. The race ended between the south of Kornati and the lighthouse on Vela Smokvica. After passing through, most of the ships that were to head towards Sibenik on Monday turned and sailed towards Kaprije for the night. The next day, the forecast was for a stronger Jugo, and most crews sensibly decided to minimise Monday's voyage against the wind.
The remaining 10 boats docked in the beautiful Piškera Marina on Kornati. We had the marina almost to ourselves. Besides us, there were only 2 sailboats.
We cleaned up 100 kg worth of plastic from the beach with Sail Blue
Our Cleaner Sea Initiative, Sail Blue, is intended to help ensure that our beaches remain pristine. After docking, we collected garbage bags and walked along the coast of Piskera Island. We collected plastic garbage on the beaches and among the stones, rocks and shrubs by the sea, as well as from shallow sea pools. In about an hour and a half we collected more than 100 kg of plastic and deposited it in containers in the marina.
And who ultimately triumphed at the Fourth Annual Easter Cruise?
The victors and their prizes were announced after the waste collection was completed. The overall winner was Salona 38 PUNCH, skippered by Petr Bartoš; second place was awarded to Jirka Zindulka and his First 40.7; and in third place came the tourists on Dufour 445 PRGINO II, captained by Gabriel Štrba. It was certainly a great achievement that the tourists provided such stiff competition for the racing boats – and even beat them during one stage.
The winners in each category were: Dufour 455 PRGINO II in the over 41-foot category; Dufour 375 CHINA GIRL, captained by Tomáš Petrák, in the under 41-foot; and Salona 38 PUNCH in the racing boat category. After the awards ceremony, which took place as night was falling, a culinary feast of delectable fish and other seafood awaited us in the restaurant in the marina.
On Monday – whether on the pier or on the boats – we made sure that the Czech Easter tradition of whipping was observed, as yachtsmen dished it out to the ladies and were rewarded with a kiss and beautiful eggs.
Intensifying Jugo as the final stage confirms the winner
The final, unofficial racing stage involved only 3 racing boats in an intensifying Jugo. Salona 38 PUNCH confirmed her overall victory with first place in this stage, Salona 38 RUM came second and First 40.7 CARMEN followed just a few seconds later. The fight for 2nd and 3rd place went down to the line and RUM won thanks to superior tactics.
We look forward to seeing you at the next Easter cruise!
The boats were returned to the marinas almost without damage this year. There were two minor crashes which caused only minimal damage, and another boat was caught in the shallows as well. The mood during the whole voyage was excellent, and so we already look forward to further expeditions next year.
And finally, here are a few reasons why our Easter Fleet always look forward to this sailing event with such eagerness:
Excellent, subsidised boat prices, applicable specifically for this event
2. 4 days at sea and not a moment standing still!
3. Organized entertainment activities with the regatta open to any tourist boat
4. Social entertainment throughout the day (and night!)
5. No entry fee: each boat only pays for its port costs and meals
We look forward to seeing you at our next Easter cruise!
Author: Jiří Zindulka