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Story by Ib Kunøe, owner of X-Yachts and chairman of the board:
At the end of the season I am always sailing my boat from Vedbæk back to the yard in Haderslev, to a safe overwintering.
I am so fortunate - like a number of other X-sailors - that I can deliver my boat in the autumn, just hand over the keys and then pick it up in the spring. Clean, fresh and serviced, ready to go when I show up! So planned well ahead, I had calculated the usual 20-24 hours for the 166 nm.
The forecast looked good, wind from N and a lot of it – super!
The trip goes from Vedbæk on the E coast of Zealand, N of the island, across the Great Belt and N of Funen to Jutland going S down the Little Belt to Haderslev on the SE coast of Jutland approx. 160 nm.
A few days before we started, the forecast shifted to W’erly winds - turning to WSW during the trip, as we say the prevailing wind in the nose the whole way, but a lot of it!
Ok, no problem, although the sea was heavy and the forecast said 15 plus. The crew was the CEO of X-Yachts, myself and two others, the boat an X43 with a furling boom, so reefing is a piece of cake.
We left 1000 sharp as planned, with plenty of stores for 24 h. Lovely stew with creamy gravy and mashed potatoes (I shot the deer myself).
We headed N to Elsinore with full speed and high spirits and then we met the W’erly and heavy sea, exactly as forecasted.
Editorial comment: The above short movie shows windy conditions, but was filmed before it got really tough.
We tacked N of Zealand, and I realized that if we should all benefit from the hunter’s pot, then it should be now, so dinner was served at 1600.
It was slow going with wind and sea in the nose and two reefs in the main and half the genua, so we did not pass Zealand’s Reef before midnight, 14 hours after leaving Vedbæk. Last year we made it in 6 hours, but with the gennaker up and 11-13 knots on the log, quite another ballgame.
The two crew members soon went under deck, not to be seen again before close to Jutland, so it was up to my CEO and myself to have a cozy night and morning.
We set the watches, one hour on the helm, one hour resting and navigating in the cockpit. We were passing the main routes in and out of Denmark with a lot of traffic, so we had to be very careful in the rough weather, now 17-20 ms.
We found a good routine sailing around 7 knots, between the waves, so we could sit and talk.
Outside our world, many executives pay a lot of money for teambuilding, being set in an artificial environment under tough conditions, so they can get to know themselves and each other better, thus becoming better managers.
Here we were, my new CEO, 6 months into the job and myself all alone, faced with each other on board the product we design, produce and sell. Confronted with all the issues of our business, our vision, mission and long-term strategy, tested under real circumstances, what more can you wish for as an owner?
What can we take away with us… does such an experience say something about our vision and mission?
“X-Yachts provide superior sailing pleasure to fulfill our customer’s dreams”
No problem with that, although it was not so pleasant all the time as we were healing and hammering in the waves, I still succeeded to impress my CEO by making café latte - with two sweeteners twice that night. We felt safe and on top of the conditions all the time.
“Our promise is to challenge the market through strengths in design, innovation, technology and craftsmanship”.
With that, we were even more satisfied. That night we saw our mission come true.
We challenged the market. We sailed on the 23rd of September, but saw no other sailing boats on the whole trip. The boat handled the weather, the waves, the navigation and the ease of use because of design, technology and solid craftsmanship.
We had a very good discussion about that during the night. It is a rare situation for an owner and chairman to be forced together with his CEO for 30 hours under extreme conditions with deep discussions amid a lot of physical and mental challenges and fatigue.
Then you see who you have in front of you and what the person contains and I was delighted in what I saw! We got the right man on the job!
Closing up to Jutland, the wind increased to 23 ms, so some of the crew wanted us to seek harbor, but that was not the plan and the boat behaved.
5 miles before we reached Fredericia, we went towards land and motored against the wind. No waves, full speed…we sailed 3 knots, so there was a lot of wind. I don’t remember having sailed in more wind in the inner Danish waters in all my years as a sailor.
We dropped off the two crew members in Fredericia and continued to Haderslev now with the wind 60 degrees on stb logging 10-11 knots, super to sail again with lots of wind, but no waves.
After 30 hours, we arrived at 1600, where the yard took over an almost dry boat and two tired sailors.
I will get the boat back in May and hope that the wind stays in W!