Four VO65 teams left the city Klaipeda, Lithuania earlier today for the first leg of the Prologue, a feeder event to The Ocean Race Europe that has been organised by the northern Europe-based VO65 teams.
The Prologue will visit three cities in the Baltic Sea starting with a short, sharp 115-mile leg to Gdynia in Poland. The Prologue then continues to Stockholm, Sweden before officially finishing at the South Sweden Waypoint on the 18th May. The teams will then join the rest of The Ocean Race Europe fleet in Lorient, France for the start of the European event, which will stop in Cascais, Portugal and Alicante, Spain before finishing in Genova, Italy.
The Prologue teams arrived in the Lithuanian seaport of Klaipeda on Thursday last week and competed in a series of Coastal and Pro-Am Races, before taking the start of the first leg to Gdynia, Poland at lunchtime on Sunday.
The busy, carnival atmosphere in Klaipeda for the past three days, included visits by Lithuania’s Prime Minister, Ingrida Šimonytė and the European Commissioner Virginius Sinkevičius, who was also announced as Patron of The Ocean Race Europe. Ambersail2, the first ever Lithuanian-flagged entry in The Ocean Race, also held a Green Course Conference, as one of their first major environmental initiatives. The event attracted, in addition to the Prime Minister and EU Commissioner, stakeholders from national government, sport and business communities.
Klaipeda was also the venue for the start of Relay4Nature, a global collaboration for the Ocean’s wellbeing, that involves a baton being passed between teams to shine a spotlight on ocean leaders, innovators, and advocates.
The baton is currently being carried onboard Ambersail2 and the skipper, Rokas Milevičius, will pass the baton to the skipper of Sailing Poland, Bouwe Bekking when they arrive into Gdynia.
This first leg of the Prologue will see the four competing VO65s, Ambersail2, Sailing Poland, The Austrian Ocean Racing Project and Team Childhood 1, complete a 93-mile dash on a westerly course across the Baltic Sea to a turning mark, before beating back to the Polish shoreline. The leg will finish with a final upwind downwind loop, before crossing the line in the bay of Gdansk around the midday on Monday.
The four teams are due to leave Gdynia on Wednesday 12th May for the next stage to Stockholm, Sweden.