A mix of windward-leewards and coastal courses on the Sea of Marmara were scheduled for the opening day of this 22nd edition of the Bosphorus Cup. Sadly, despite much anticipation on the part of event organiser Orhan Gorbon, his race and event teams, and crews of the 80 competing yachts, the Istanbul wind gods had other ideas. Bosphorus Cup PRO Nino Shmueli invited the IRC 0, 1 and 2 classes out onto the water with the aim of starting a race at 1445 local time.
Shmueli explained: “We knew from the forecast that it would be unbelievable if we could make a race. We attempted one in about 5-6 knots of wind from 230°, then just two minutes before the gun the wind collapsed completely, so we stopped. Then we had nearly one hour without wind but then the wind returned and we tried again. We started with the orange flag but then it collapsed again.”
Finally the AP over A was raised at 1715 and the fleet sent home, racing abandoned for the day.
Fortunately conditions are looking much more favourable for tomorrow’s main event of the Bosphorus Cup, the race in the Bosphorus itself. To hold this, impressively, Bosphorus Cup organiser Orhan Gorbon has managed to get this, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, closed for five hours.
For tomorrow’s race the fleet is being divided. The start line will be located half way up the race course, south of the Bosphorus Bridge, off downtown Istanbul, close to the westerly ‘European’ shore. From here the larger, faster classes IRC 0, 1 and 2 will start downwind under spinnaker, which in the forecast northerly will see them heading south to a leeward gate somewhere close to Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. They will then return some 3.7 miles up the Bosphorus to a windward mark and then back to the start. They will complete five laps of this course with Shmueli aiming for a race duration of three and a half hours.
Meanwhile the smaller classes and the Cruiser class will be started upwind and from the weather mark will simply return south down the Bosphorus and on to a finish line off the Fenerbahce Marina where the Bosphorus Cup fleet is berthed.
Racing in the Bosphorus provides all manner of challenges for competitors with the main current flowing south, from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara at speeds of up to five knots and with numerous counter currents and eddies for competitors to play close in to the shore.
One team this year relishing the prospect of this is the Farr 52 Chocolate of Switzerland’s Francois Bopp. After competing previously at Bosphorus Cup, Bopp has noticed that his results have often plummeted in the event’s race in the Bosphorus. For this reason this year he has imported one of Turkey’s most famous yachtsmen Orhan Tüker, who has been racing with Provezza Sailing Team for some three decades and previously has won some eight editions of the Bosphorus Cup. Crucially Tüker’s knowledge of the intricacies of the Bosphorus have been honed having raced on these complex waters for some 55 years.
“You need to know where to go otherwise you are dead,” confides Tüker. “It is very hard: It is a channel between Asia and Europe and there is a lot of current, mainly coming from the Black Sea but there are also reverse currents so you need to know the area. If there is a nice stable north wind then it is good and stable in the Bosphorus too. If you have light south wind it is not easy but there are a lot of curves in the channel and the current’s direction changes.”
The race is scheduled to start at 1200 local time (UTC +3) with competition set to conclude prior to 1700. The northerly wind is forecast to start light but is set to build to 20 knots mid-afternoon.