The excitement at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club was mounting on July 2, 2018, when Swan 441R Best Buddies started the second and final leg of the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta (AAR).
Being the exclusive entry in the Cruising Division of the regatta, the route will take them from subtropical Bermuda to the maritime HafenCity of Hamburg. Their start further marked the 1-week countdown to the major AAR start of the Racing Division on Sunday, July 8, which will see a fleet of 17 yachts race to the same destination.
It was also a very special day for one of the Best Buddies crew members: Erik Aldinger celebrated his birthday onboard the boat on the start day of the transatlantic race leg, surrounded by his other eight crew members. In true fashion of the AAR, which is a celebration of the jubilees of two of the most prestigious yacht clubs in Europe, the festivities continued until the Bermudian shore line was out of sight. “Best Buddies was the first draft of Nautor’s Swan to build a race yacht as a one-design class, and after spending two years in the Caribbean, it fits perfectly that, with the 150th anniversary of NRV, there was finally another transatlantic regatta again”, comments Susann Wrede, female co-skipper and co-owner of Best Buddies. The yacht is expected to arrive in Hamburg prior to the end of July. “Everything less than 24 days would be good”, says Susann Wrede. “We are the smallest ship, therefore we would be surprised if we would not be overtaken. The big yachts, such as Rambler, are about ten generations ahead, which is simply incredible and it is great that they are participating as well”, adds Kay Wrede, Susann’s husband and co-owner of Best Buddies.
The nine ‘best buddies’ are now on their way towards their next mark, the Western approach to the English channel. “Best Buddies started at 12:30pm local time near St. David’s Lighthouse in perfect conditions with 10-13 knots of wind, light waves and sunny skies”, comments Stefan Kunstmann, Race Officer from the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). “They headed out at 110 degrees and are expected to be about 900-950 nm ahead on July 8, when the Racing Division starts. Presently influenced by a low pressure system, Best Buddies is expected to transition to a high pressure system by Wednesday morning. At present, there will be a high pressure squeeze between the Central Atlantic and New York. This usually means relatively nice weather for a long duration. If all goes according to prediction, they should stop going upwind and begin to transition to downwind sailing at about that time.”
The heavy Swan performs best in stronger wind conditions and might be challenged once the wind drops to about five knots on Wednesday. However, the team around skipper Susan Wrede and her husband Kay Wrede are an experienced amateur crew. The Wrede-Family has a strong yachting and boat building background and have immense experience in sailing and crossed the Atlantic several times. With 39 years of age, Best Buddies is not only the smallest, but also one of the oldest yachts in the field. In 1979 the dark blue yacht left the famous Swan shipyard in Finland to take part in many ocean races. When the yacht stopped active regatta sailing in 1983, she went through a two-way story: She sailed as a cabin charter yacht and crossed the Atlantic Ocean many times. After the last refit in 2012, Best Buddies received a second life as an offshore racing yacht and has regularly participated in offshore races ever since. In the same year, the “old lady” won the Swan Baltic Sea Challenge and Susan and Kay Wrede were nominated for the German Offshore Award for their participation in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2015. The crew of 9, thereof two women, will use all their knowledge of refit and technology for a successful Atlantic crossing. Best Buddies is proudly flying the pennant of NRV and Royal Ocean Racing Club, who have both been associated with AAR since the early days of the first race leg, the RORC Transatlantic Regatta 2017 from the Canary Island to the Caribbean.
Since this week, all sailing aficionados are invited to participate in the Virtual AAR, a complimentary digital regatta, in which fantasy boats race on the same route and wind conditions as the real-life fleet. The Virtual Regatta is available at virtualregatta.com/en/index_vroffshore.php
A YB Tracker is available to provide live-tracking of the entire fleet at yb.tl/aar2018
by Atlantic Anniversary Regatta