International Canoe Europa Cup 2009
Karlstad, Sweden, 7- 9 August
In Sweden there are several traditional classes of sailing canoe: A & B canoe, generally sailed by children and youths under 18; and C, D & E plus ICs for the rest. The Europa Cup at Karlstad on Lake Vänern was combined with the Swedish championships for the national sailing canoe classes and also for the Typhoon class, a type of sailing canoe for one or two crew sailed mainly in Germany. Lake Vänern is Sweden's largest lake, 100 km from Karlstad in the North to Vänersborg at the South end. Towns and industries around the lake are serviced by commercial shipping and the lake is connected by rivers and canals to Gothenburg and Stockholm. Getting your IC to Sweden from the UK is not easy or quick. The two UK sailors who went to Karlstad, Simon Allen and Mark Goodchild, took advantage of contacts with a shipping company and had boats and an almost broken down car delivered to Helsingborg, a port 220 km to the south of Gothenburg. The logistics of sailors and boats getting to Karlstad on Thursday 6th August was still complex to say the least but suffice to say that Mark arrived with car and boats in the afternoon and Simon arrived by train from Oslo later that evening.
Sweden has not had good summer weather this year but with our arrival things changed for the better, the sun shone temperatures rose and the wind - well, was a bit light some of the time, but you can't have everything. Karlstad Canoe Federation hosted the event and moved the venue from their club in the town to a park just outside the town where access to very suitable sailing waters was easy from sandy beaches and grassy areas, surrounding a fitness and leisure facility. The wind and sea breezes (yes, sea breezes in the middle of Sweden: the lake is so big) came from the South so we only had a five minute sail to the start area.
Nine races were scheduled for the three days (triangular courses). The race management was first class and all races were sailed on time and completed the full course with the exception of the last race on the first day, which was shortened at the last turning mark as the wind died away to nothing, some boats being stranded just yards from the finishing line when they ran out of time. A welcome BBQ was arranged for the Friday evening with Swedish sausage and beer brought from Germany by canoe sailors. The President of the Swedish Canoe Federation came along and welcomed us all to the event.
Sailing on Saturday was a civilized affair, after morning racing we went ashore for a roast pork lunch at the nearby restaurant, then back on the water after a rest for another two races. Saturday evening all canoe sailors were invited to the Karlstad Sailing Club (KSS) for our evening meal. It was the clubs 125th anniversary celebration evening.
After the last two races on Sunday we had just enough time to relax in the sun, swim in the lake and pack our boats away before the prize giving. There was a short medal presentation for all the championship classes and then prizes were given out on a raffle by boat number basis. Every competitor got to choose a prize from the table as their boat number was picked out - a great way to get everyone to turn up to the prize giving and to encourage future participation. It was really good to see so many children and youths sailing canoes of various types, traditional classes of dinghy that we do not see in the UK. Of course these dinghies have been around in Sweden for many years and lots of youngsters have started their sailing in them, but we can hope that the youths who were enjoying sailing them at Karlstad this year will one day be enjoying sailing International Canoes.