Square metre boat race Schlank & Rank

At the end of a busy week it is nice to visit the weekly market with your loved one and a pretty raffia basket on Saturday. On the way, you have your first or second coffee and find out what the weekend will bring. Sadly, pleasing leisure activity wears out in the long run. And in our latitudes there are seasons whose Saturdays the sailor already uses to visit the weekly market in the cold months. The other half of the year, he goes sailing on Saturdays. This works well with elegant boats offering sensitive and lasting pleasure playing with the wind.

Biannual race for slim & tender boats

The meeting of slim boats takes place every two years at a special Saturday in the western approach to the Baltic Sea Island Fehmarn in northern Germany. The thing about Schlank & Rank is that it is dedicated to the most beautiful type of boats, the elegant planks of the classic square metre boat. And that in all its sizes, types and also successors built since the beginning of the last century, which strictly speaking are no true square metre boats. But why bother with such quibbles when you just want to sail nicely with like-minded friends? Because Schlank & Rank (English Slim & Tender) inventor Georg Milz is easy all around, he invites similar boats such as the pretty Dragon and cruising variants of the seventies. So the event is not only a classic or sqm boat event. It is simply Schlank & Rank, and as such unique in the world.

Schlank & Rank race course in the western approach to Fermarnsund – Foto Manage to Sail/SVLF

Wood or glass fibre?

Plastic is out of the question for lovers of classic wooden boats because the material is nicer and can be handled and worked differently. If you drill just a simple hole in a GRP boat, you know instantly. Not to mention worse measures like preparing a laminating job. The long-term and proactive maintenance of a GRP boat is almost asbestos class.

A wooden boat smells, sounds and ages differently. Compared to the modern, somewhat higher-boarded and wider Glass fibre variant, a classic wooden square metre boat is an unmistakably different, more beautiful world. Only if it has been regularly maintained over decades and mayor topics were and are covered. As far as planks, the deck, the coamings, the cabin and the cockpit are in good condition. You can see this in Lemkenhafen, where the undivided admiration is for wooden boats. Hans Milz’s 15 sqm boat Romance 2, Reed Wing and Oj Oj, his brother Georg’s 22 Finikiette or Torsten Jegminat’s 22 Tricksonita are lovingly preserved examples, down to the original rigging with bent wooden masts and jumpstays.

Nevertheless, there are classic sailors who are flirting with or have already switched to modern, low-maintenance and more comfortable examples. As gorgeous as the boats are, they have to fit the personal circumstances.

The preservation of a classic needs attention, craftsmanship and organisational skills. As far as agile sailing is concerned and less the fetish of a true square metre boat, material and shape play a subordinate role. The boat can even be made in plastic with a modern keel and rudder, and it can be a little wider plus a little higher in favour of upwind performance and life aboard.

Georg Milz has found his solution. He has two boats, one for the short afternoon escape or classic regattas and a more comfortable one for cruising. In the past few years, he sailed a modern version type Smaragd made of plastic with a Treadmaster deck, which he replaced in season 23 with an Elvström/Kjærulff construction for cruising in favour of full headroom below deck. The Swede 38 is somewhat longer, already 2.80 m wide and higher. A seventies compromise between sailing and amenities. Milz has time, space in one of his sheds in the village and a tractor for the short trips to the water.

Modern Ylva instead of classic Mälar 30

The second example is the story of Bernd Böhnecke. Recently, the long-time classic sailor replaced his Mälar 30 named Smilla with a modern 30 sqm variant type Ylva. This plastic boat is fairly popular in Denmark, was designed by Steen Kjølhede in 1973 and built 89 times by the later Luffe yard. It is 12.20 m long, 2.30 m wide, weighs about 3 ½ t and, as a delightful racing boat and daysailer, offers certain space under the stretched superstructure with overnight option for weekends and summer cruises. Similar alternatives to the classic square metre boat are the Danish Dynamic 35, Molich X, the BB 10, the cruising variants of the square metre boat type Lotus or S30. Not to forget the Luffe 37, with two boats participating at this years event. The S30 offers almost full headroom in the raised aft companionway area of the maincabin. Also interesting is the special mix of easy to maintain plastic hull with a respectably low mahogany superstructure and teak deck of Swede 41. The scope of the Slim & Tender theme has been explored again and again since the seventies and is well worth seeing today.

In Sweden, Denmark and in Germany, there are many charming specimen enriching Schlank & Rank, such as the cruising varaint of a 22 sqm boat named Tizia or the Reimers S40 square metre boat cruising version. So it is worthwhile to keep the first Saturday in July 25 free.

Start Schärenkreuzer Regatta Schlank & Rank Gruppe 3, Yardstick Boote
Modern variants starting in a separat class due to Yardstick – Foto Torsten Nitzsche

It was a feast seeing the boats in action. The wonderfully maintained and excellently sailed wooden Dragon Coima, the three 15s, two 22s, the Mälar 25 and Mälar 30, up to the classic 55 sqm boat Sonja. Unfortunately, in the starting phase and during the regatta there was hardly any time to look at the boats. Fortunately, Torsten Nitzsche took some nice regatta photos. At least the sailing friends and I had the opportunity to see Oj Oj in action aboard Gamle Swede on the last downwind course from Fehmarnsund Bridge towards Heiligenhafen. The clip by Richard Natmeßnig shows how easily the classic 15 sqm boat goes through the water.

Three, in gusts up to four Beaufort from the east offered flat water and ideal conditions. Six classics each sailed in the separate KLR 1 and 2 fleets, based on the Klassiker Rennwert (KLR) developed by Enno Thyen for Freundeskreis Klassische Yachten and proven now for decades, as well as nine modern boats in a separate yardstick group.

For Gamle Swede, my 55 square metre crusing variant displacing almost 9 tons, it was ideal. From three Beaufort onwards she goes well with main and jib. So Swede 55 was able to show its abilities sailing higher and faster upwind compared to the smaller examples, so that we outsailed the yardstick handicap upwind, while loosing the gains without spinnaker to Böhnecke’s well-sailed Ylva named Lønne. The comparison between Swede 55 and the smaller modern Danish designs such as Ylva and Molich X (the latter formerly seen at Schlank & Rank), which offer more hull stability, thus stiffness and upwind performance is interesting. Schlank & Rank is a unique opportunity to study this. The comparison alone makes the event so interesting on the water.

Photo above by Torsten Nitzsche: Hans Milz leaving Lemkenhafen.

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