SPECIAL TO THE MOSCOW TIMES
The wind was fair, and on the wide, blue, glistening Volga, a long line of
brightly colored sails glided along quickly. With their tans and matching
T-shirts, the yachters completed a dazzling scene.
However picturesque it all looked when viewed through binoculars from the
spectator ship, things were not such a breeze on the sleek boats. Approaching
this, the last day before the final of the Volga Cup, Russia’s biggest regatta,
Alexei Zryachev and his crew on the Afrika spent the night mending their mast,
which had broken the evening before.
«We were almost at the finish, going really well, and were starting to
congratulate each other,» Zryachev said. «Then suddenly there was a strong wind
and the mast snapped. We were so depressed, we felt like dropping out of .the
regatta. But then we had dinner and. decided we were not going to give up.»
The day after the sleepless night, the Afrika finished first in its
The Volga Cup itself is as resilient as its participants. It started in 1970
but was cancelled from 1992 to 1996 due to Russia’s political turmoil. Now
sailors are flooding back: From 18 in 1997, the number of yachts has grown to 97
in this year’s regatta, which took place from June 25 to July 5.
Cruiser yachts, measuring from 5.5 to 12 meters in length and divided into
four groups according to their measurements and types, covered a total of 450
nautical miles between Ulyanovsk and Tolyatti. They raced in darkness as well as
daytime. The longest of the regatta’s seven competitions lasted 48 hours.
«Sometimes you wake up some where unexpected, having gone the wrong way at
night,» said Yevgeny Akimov, one of the captains.
On July 5, the two top yachts from each category plus the two runners-up
overall took part in the final. It was a difficult day, with a lack of wind,
beating sun, and then driving wind and rain. One teenage crew rushed drenched
and shivering to a friend’s yacht as soon as the final was over, to be regaled
The regatta’s overall winner, which won the top prize of a UAZ off-road car,
was Nikolayev Team from Nizhny Novgorod. Other teams carried off prizes ranging
from a computer to an oversized bottle of vodka.
‘The regatta is not a serious sport, said Khanchin,’ one of the cup’s
organizers. ‘It is entertainment’.
Despite the rough conditions, the regatta «is not a serious sport.» said
Vsevolod Khanchin, vice president of the Association of Sailing Catamarans of
Russia and one of the cup’s organizers. «It is entertainment.»
Spectators, after less strenuous days spent watching the races from a
120-cabin motor ship, joined the sailors in the evening. «With yachters, you
have fun in any weather,» said Galina Veselkova, a 37-year-old accountant from
Dmitrovgrad, as she sunbathed on the deck. A place on the ship, which has a
restaurant, two bars and a dance-floor, costs $50 per night.
Anyone is welcome to enter the regatta, for a 4.000 ruble entry fee, as
long as the captain and assistant each yacht have licenses. Sailors i use any
type of non-motor, non-motor yacht, and if they wish, can rent a y« or apply to
be put in a team.
Participants, whose ages ran from 16 to 75, came primarily from Moscow, St.
Petersburg and cities the Volga region. «We have not any foreign participants so
far.» • Artyom Sarksyan, vice president of Volga Sailing Cruisers Union and
regatta’s chief organizer. «But would welcome them.»
Over the summer, sails billow around Russia. There are several weekend
regattas in Moscow; a more in St. Petersburg; one regatta Lake Onezhkoye, for
those who don’t mind a chilly climate; one between Sochi and Sevastopol; and
many off small sailing events.
The main race in the Volga region after the Volga Cup is the Vysotsky
Regatta, named after poet Vladimir Vysotsky, who was a long-time friend of
Khanchin, the organizer. This year will take place on July 25.
To take on the wind and waves cally during the May-October sailing season,
head for the Kyibyshevskoye reservoir at Dmitrovskoye Shosse about 8 kilometers
from the Moscow Ring Road. Boat clubs include Vodnik, Burevestnik,
ShVCM, Neptun, Avrora, Admiral and Spartak.
In operation since 1946, Burevestnik has cutters and a boat workshop does not
offer boat rental. Opened 1937, Vodnik has yachts, cutters and boating school.
Nonmembers can rent yachts and cutters, as well as a pc boat that holds 140
So even in Moscow, the brave and the romantic can test their skills storms
and spend summer nights on the water.