2003 Queen Christina Nations Cup - September 27-28, 2003

Since the inception of the International Rule in 1907, the 6 Meter Class has had a remarkable influence on yacht design and sailing competition. From the 20's to the 50's the 6 meter was the class of choice for contests not simply between boats, but between Nations. Some examples of past Nation-based contests sailed in sixes include the Scandinavian Gold Cup, the One Ton Cup, the British American Team Race, the Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup, and the Olympic Games. The sixes lost Olympic status after the 1952 Games and was eventually supplanted in all of these Nation based events.Queen Christina Nations Cup Trophy

In June 2002, sailors from Puget Sound went to Stockholm to sail in the Gamla Stan team match races, had a great time, on and off the race course, placed second and were extremely impressed with the hospitality shown to them by their Swedish hosts. The concept of the Queen Christina Nations Cup evolved from that fantastic experience and lead to the idea (after a few glasses of Aquavit) that International competition need not be expensive and friendly competition between nations can have many beneficial effects for our class:
· Build camaraderie and establish meaningful contact with other fleets and nations
· Meet six meter sailors just as passionate about our boats as us
· Decreased expense for all involved to sail in other countries on different boats
· Better communication through social interaction
· Have more fun at a regatta by not having to worry about logistics

Here is how the Puget Sound Six Meter Association accomplished all of these things at the inaugural Queen Christina Nations Cup:
· We invited teams of 4 sailors from 4 nations with active fleets to come to Port Madison, just outside Seattle, stay in our homes and sail our boats.
· Kimo Mackey commissioned a beautiful trophy that has at its center a flask filled with Linie Aquavit - a six meter sailor's drink - and six engraved glasses, along with an indestructible carrying case made for traveling. Kimo was also the "Tsar" of the event - which simplified all decisions. What the Tsar wanted is what happened.
· PSSMA ran the races, provided sack lunches, and had an owner representative for each boat.
· Each team raced each boat in 2 races, and then rotated to another boat.
· Other sixes in the fleet started 1 minute after the competing nations and simply sailed for fun on a beautiful weekend.
· We had parties or gatherings every night.
· We mandated that the host nation could not win, thus assuring that the competition would move to another country willing to host the regatta next time.

What resulted was the most fun regatta we had all year. The weather was phenomenal, with moderate winds and warm, sunny weather in the 80's (25 C.). Each sailor was given a regatta baseball cap embroidered with flags of the nations competing. Each team also brought their national flag and moved between boats with their flag.

The courses were fairly short and the first race was in light air. The lead changed at least 10 times as the teams moved between shifts in the dying/building breezes. Never say die was the best startegy as the Canadians on Maybe VII came from last place at the leeward mark to squeak out a win by less than a foredeck over Finland on Buzzy III. In race 2 the Finns got edged again, this time by Sweden. The crews then switched boats and had one of Kathy Jackson's excellent sack lunches. It was all very civil. Race 3 saw the breeze settle in with 12-15 knots from the North. Port Madison is quite protected, so the seas are smooth almost no matter the breeze - perfect for sixes. Race 3 saw the Canadians take charge with a wire to wire win on Buzzy III. In race 4 the course was Start - Windward - Port Madison Yacht Club, which entailed negotiating the tricky depths and shore breezes of the inner harbor. After all, this was all about fun. The Swedes led on a tight reach into the mouth of the harbor, using the shallow sides of the channel to hold off the charging Canadians, who could not pass and risk running aground. Both boats sailed into a dead spot and the Finns on Saga smartly cracked off below the other 2 to make an easy win. At the end of the day, it was Canada 7, Finland 8, Sweden 9. We all had big laughs at the clubhouse, then cleaned up for the big lasagna party at Kimo's.

Day 2 was more of the same great weather and moderate breeze. Sweden, on Buzzy III, under the confident leadership of Peter Norlin, came to play and left no doubt for the day by taking both races convincingly and the overall win. Another race went back to the clubhouse for the award ceremony, where the Swedes (including honorary Swede Justin Davis) serenaded everyone with the traditional song Helan Gore, then were doused in champagne by the other competitors. Later that night Joth and Karen Davis hosted the Queen Christina - a party filled with dancing and song. If Peter Norlin ever gets out of yacht design and winning races, he could make it as a dance instructor!

Current plans are for the 2004 Queen Christina Nations Cup to be held in Helsinki, Finland. Everyone who participated in this year's event agreed this is a regatta we hope to have for many years. Traditions start 1 year at a time. Details on the regatta will likely be at the Finnish website, www.6mR.fi.

Accolades from the participants:
From Randy Cunningham - Skipper-Canadian Crew:

I am writing to expound on the fantastic 6mR sailing event that just took place in Port Madison, Washington in the form of the Nations Cup. In my view, if the concept, organization and execution of this regatta were an Olympic event it would get solid '10's' across the board. In all my years in a number of sports, I have not been involved with one where the participants felt such a great combination of competition, a true sense of warm community from hosts and a down to earth attiude from all the competitors. It was the perfect balanced equation. For the crews, everything was taken care of by the fabulous US hosts.

All the crews sailed all the boats which again kept everything in balance and indeed each boat won at least one race. It was true old style competition full of fun and excitement. There was not a hint of a "prima donna" attitude anywhere, everyone was just happy to sail these beautiful boats in this beautiful place. HUGE credit must be given to Kimo Mackey and all his support staff for the environment created here. This concept for sailors from different parts of the world to come and sail without most of the normally associated logistical hassles, is really what made this event so special. This was the sort of event that made you want to not only go to the next one, but to host your own just so you could give back. In fact, the enthusiasm created has inspired one of our Canadian crew to shop for his own boat now so that we can build our Vancouver fleet. For the UK crew that didn't make it....did they EVER miss out!

I believe the event will be held in Helsinki next year and we hope to have it in Vancouver in 2006 and we DO have a hard act to follow, but we're sure going to try!

From Henrik Andersin of Finland:

In Finland we have enjoyed a surge in interest to save six meter yachts since the mid 80s. We now enjoy a fleet of 40 six-meters, the biggest fleet anywhere. Twenty yachts race regularly. An intense community of sailors and yachtsmen study and research every possible new angle of history on 6- meters. All yachts are considered individual superstars and all rigging and layout details on them are intensely followed as they appear on the race courses. Our possibilities to ship our yachts to race North American 6 meters are not really there. Into this environment the invitation to race a friendly Nations Cup with local yachts was welcomed. Matt Cockburn of the Puget fleet got it right when he said that since we lost the Gold Cup to the 5.5s, we've sorely lacked a Nations-based regatta, and maybe this will fill the bill in the future.

We feel the format of the Race was well thought out and nicely done. The possibility to meet other sailors that shared our views on the meter yachts was very thrilling. The hospitality of the Puget Sound yachtsmen and their families was outstanding. The race in itself was intense but friendly. The Finnish team (Leo Reenpää Boree II), Jesper Ekelund (Borgila), Esko Kilpi (Fandango) and Henrik Andersin (MayBe VI and Djinn) decided early that we would circulate the helmsmans position every race until finding a winning combination. This was a lot of fun and only once did the same helmsman continue into the next race. May be this could be part of the Cups rules?

We are happy about this new tradition and will shortly discuss the possibility to be the arranger of the next Cup in Helsinki in the summer of 2004. We are hoping for more countries to join into the race. Thank you Kimo Mackey and your team at the Puget Sound!

The winners sing Halon Gore....

...then get doused with champagne by the other teams!