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Hei Helsinki!

After a busy and exciting stopover in Russia, and Skippers Briefing for the next leg, it was a grey and breezy start for the ARC Baltic fleet as they slipped their lines to leave St. Petersburg. With a little lashing of Northerly winds and rain, it was a stark contrast to the sunny days of exploring the historic city. The yachts all left in an orderly fashion to check out at Kronstadt, a much quicker process than checking in, although a few of the yachts were requested to get back in the channel en route to keep the official procession.

With the fleet away, it was time for Rally Control to say goodbye to the team at the Central River Yacht Club leaving a few gifts for flags and caps behind as a thank you for their hospitality.They then boarded the ‘bullet train’ for the 194kmph ride to Helsinki.

Three and a half hours later, Rally Control arrived and made their way to the NJK marina, currently hosting the 5.5m worlds so there’s plenty of activity around. The fleet will first check into Finland at Haapasaari Island and will be cruising the narrow channels and islets along the way to arrive at NJK on Friday once the championships conclude. It is a beautiful yacht club, the largest and oldest in Finland, founded in 1861 and has gone through many phases in its long history. It started as a yacht club without a harbour or clubhouse. The first pavilion was built on an island west of Helsinki. As the harbour was poor and no boatyard was available it soon became necessary to move. One of the club members owned a small island, Blekholmen, in the South Harbour of Helsinki, which he generously rented to NJK for a nominal annual fee of 225 Finnish marks (approx. 55 euros). The pavilion was then moved to Blekholmen where, over the years, it was reconstructed. The present pavilion, designed by architects Estlander and Settergren, was inaugurated in August 1900 and has been carefully maintained.

It’s quite a busy place with a short ferry ride to the town and mainland with many shops restaurants and touristy things to see. Boat trips run all day long moving people from scenic cove to idyllic islands, cruise liners the size of large buildings even manage to squeeze their way into Helsinki.

Once the fleet arrive on Friday, the planned stopover in Finland will see them enjoy a walking tour of the city on Saturday, and dinner in the prestigious club restaurant on Sunday after a briefing of how to cruise this incredible archipelago, by James Casserly who has spent some twenty years cruising these waters.

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