Are you still thinking that the streets of Russian cities are full of dancing bears with balalaikas, and the men drink vodka, sitting under the Christmas trees? Well you are almost right.
To see the proof with your own eyes make sure to visit the most northerly in the world regatta “Adventure Race 80 degrees”. A real Russian safari is waiting for you: polar bears and rough sailors, ancient villages and churches of the Russian North, ice and land, that have almost never been touched by human hands. But most importantly – the extreme race in the highest latitudes.
You’ve probably heard about the record-breaking voyage of the Russian yacht “Peter I”. In 2010 she sailed around the North Pole during a single navigation without wintering and the help of an icebreaker. In 2011, the yacht crew organized an international environmental regatta “Adventure Race 80 degrees”.
Thanks to this regatta foreign yacht for the first time without problems were able to get into the internal waters of Russia.
They followed two very interesting routes: cruise in company from St. Petersburg to Arkhangelsk and Arctic race from Archangelsk to the Franz Josef Land and Murmansk.
The cultural capital of Russia – St. Petersburg became the first port of the regatta. Most of the participants gathered there on July,1st, the day before the start. The next day, July 2, the regatta was officially launched by its organizers – Daniel Gavrilov – Captain of the Regatta’s flagship yacht “Peter I” and Elena Solovyeva – Chief mate.
They spoke of the bureaucratic difficulties and other obstacles they faced. That included many months of obtaining permits for the yachts to sail in the inland waters of Russia, and arranging moorages along the route of the race. But nothing stopped them from gathering a fleet of eight boats from five countries: Britain, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland and Russia.
About the Regatta & the Russian Arctic
Elena Solovyeva, director of the regatta “Adventure Race 80 dg”:
- Difficulties were mainly of an organizational nature – all kinds of agreements and documents to obtain permits for foreigners. To get the permission for four foreign yachts to sail in the inland waters we eventually had to get Putin’s signature on one of the documents. The very idea of the race came to mind only six months ago, so we had to work at extreme speeds. But we had a very good team, which easily coped with everything.
Michael Smith, the captain of an English yacht “Willywaw”:
- For a few years we have been unsuccessfully trying to get the permission for the boat to pass the inland waterways of Russia. This year, at last, we were able to do this- thanks to the regatta «Adventure race». Next time will invite other English yachts.
Regatta. Step by step
The starting time was chosen so the bouts will pass along the Neva River under the drawn bridges. On the night of July 4, three boats set off on cruise in company route of the regatta. The first stop was at the estuary of the Neva River, where there the medieval fortress Oreshek is situated. Participants rested, went on an excursion and continued the cruise.
The next step was sailing on the largest European freshwater Lake Ladoga. After that the boats went to the Svir River, and then to Lake Onega, where they examined the main attractions of these places – petroglyphs (ancient rock paintings) in the eastern part of the lake and the island of Kizhi.
The island is famous for the landmark of Russian wooden architecture – Kizhi churchyard. In 1993, it was included in UNESCO World Heritage List. The part of the route in the White Sea-Baltic Canal became memorable for the participants because of both its interesting navigation, and history. This channel of 227 km in length with 19 locks, was built in less than a year, while world-famous shorter canals needed many more years to construct. In the White Sea yachts visited Solovki Islands, where the crews got acquainted with the history of the Solovki monastery and the Gulag Archipelago, and met with “Onega regatta.”
After the yachts crossed the sea and sailed on the River Dvina they were warmly welcomed in the city of Arkhangelsk. There, on July 16 the closing ceremony of the first part of the regatta and participants awarding took place.
On July 19, a second part of the Arctic race began. Yacht “Peter I» (Russia) and «Lena» (Finland) started from the Buoy of Arkhangelsk. They passed 950 miles in autonomous navigation to the Franz Josef Land, where they made a stop for five days.
It should be said that for such a voyage the yachts were well prepared: «Lena» had repeatedly sailed to Spitsbergen, and “Peter I» had completed the Arctic circumnavigation. The vessels were equipped with life rafts of unlimited navigation area; buoys, double navigation system, satellite communication, and the crew members had dry suits with them.
Boats were lucky – there wasn’t a lot of ice on the way. At 23:08 Moscow time, July 25 the yacht “Peter I” from Saint-Petersburg, after going around Cape Flora, crossed the declared 80th parallel of north latitude at 80 ° 0’0 .00 “N 50 ° 4’44 .71? E.
The crew had some time to enjoy the beauty of nature, icebergs and gigantic glaciers, wild animals – all of this is a small part of what can be seen in the Arctic.
Sailors managed to visit the island of Champa, which is famous for its perfectly round stones, Hayes Island, with the most northerly post office in Russia. They also got to go to the polar stations on the island Hooker, where the second expedition of Georgy Sedov was wintering in 1913, 1914; the places of wintering of an outstanding Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen’s expedition; on the island of Jackson, the famous Cape Flora, where virtually all of the arctic expeditions, that explored the Franz Josef Land had been based. Crews conducted environmental campaign to draw public attention to the problem of pollution in the Arctic where empty fuel barrels had been scattered for decades. Yachts finished in Murmansk August 9, 2011
This year, “Rusarc” is organizing a second regatta “Adventure Race 80 dg – 2012.” The cruise in company route will be added with the islands of Konevets and Valaam in Lake Ladoga. Race time will altered a little – it will start June 23 and end August 4, 2012.
So if you’ve always wanted to visit Russia and see what it is like with your own eyes, you still have some time to join the regatta as a crew member or a tourist. All the details can be found here: en.rusarc.ru.
- Adventure Race 80dg Yacht Regatta in Franz Josef Land Archipelago, Russian Arctic [photos]
- Franz Josef Land Archipelago, Russian Arctic, in July 2011. 58 photos by Vladimir Sevostianov.
- Borge Ousland & Thorleif Thorleifsson completed the Northern Passage 2010 expedition
- A homemade Russian boat on a TransArctic trip through Canada’s Northwest Passage
- Russian teens made it to the North Pole. They were skiing and pulling sledges. Young Arctic explorers!