- Background
- Route
- 2001 :o(
- 2002 :o|
- 2003 :o|

Since 1988, the dutch sailing club Onder Ons organizes a yearly event called the Brio Zeilmarathon. It is a sailing marathon, leading over a distance of about 60 km through the Frisian channels and lakes (see route below). The whole event started of with 30 participating boats, but in the meantime it has grown to around 150 open sailing boats racing for the honour of winning.
Next to sailing skills (of course!), the Brio-Race challenges the crews skills to handle their boats passing narrow channels, bridges or other obstacles appearing along the route. In opposite to "normal" regattas, paddling, towing and poking are allowed in order to make progress.
Since 2001, my friends Martin, Andreas and I are participating with rented Valks and until now, we've always had a lot of fun, although we sometimes thought different during the regattas. :o) The conditions were always different and it is truly a challenge just to reach the finish.

The Route (sorry for the poor quality!)

Our first attempt to participate was a real disappointment. We had hired our boats the whole week before the event in order to train a bit. We especially trained the bridge maneuvers and finally felt very good about them. However, on the day of the regatta it was storming with 8 Bft, so the race was called of. Very annoying...
Due to the storm we also had problems returning the boats on time and the trip back was a real challenge. So overall our first attempt to participate resulted in nothing. We don't even seem to have pictures. However we had many laughs, since Martin amused us many times by (voluntarily???) falling into the water. :o)

We finally succeeded! It was a short weekend: We arrived on thursday evening, trained on friday and raced on saturday. However the results were once again disappointing. After struggling for a long day with a lot of wind (5-6 Bft) we made the 74th place of about 100 boats in our class.
It sounds like a cheap apology, but the main reason for this result was the boat. It truly sucked! When stepping on it for the first time, we already had the feeling of it beeing very soft and tipsy. The renter proudly announced, that he built his fleet himself and that he found a way to reduce weight: Next to thinner laminates this mainly resulted in a self constructed keel made out of concrete (!). Very very clever indeed. :o| It was lighter and thicker then the standard keel made out of steel, thus combining all achievable disadvantages: Drag was increased and stability reduced considerably.
During the race we never had a chance to keep up with the others and the reduced stability caused a lot of almost-capsizing-events. So when the winds increased, we were sailing with two reefs while everybody around us had no reef at all. Very annoying! At the end the only comfort for us were the other three boats of our renter finishing behind us and having capsized at least one time. We were truly lucky! :o)

Leaving the harbour for a first trial.

Heel was big for 2-3 Bft...

Sunny but cold!

The evening before the race.

Getting up at 5:30. :o(

Breakfast in the public toilet due to the cold.

Starting with ~150 boats is quite something.

First on the Sneeker Meer...

...then into a channel...

...getting more and more narrow.

We nearly capsized somewhere here.

No chance, they'll catch up.

This year everything looked perfect. At least during the days before the race. The boat rented from De Wettergeus was in great shape and the maneuvers during our compulsory training day left us confident. This time we would be competitive!
However, about two hours after the race was started, the wind dropped continuously leaving us in a dead calm. Everybody started paddling, towing and poking and not knowing if the wind would come back, we joined the stride. But the wind was gone.
In the evening, after having covered about 40 km, we were ingloriously picked up by the "broom-boat", towing us back to the harbour. None of our class had reached the finish and as far as we counted, only 10 Valks were ahead of us when the boat picked us up. So we weren't that bad. :o)

Cleaning the hull.

Towing in a channel.

Our "neighbour" in the calm.

Caught by the "broom-boat".