It was perhaps the perfect piece of royal diplomacy on the water. Crown Prince Frederik of the Denmark crossed the finish line first but came second to Denmark’s new sailing prince – Nicolai Sehested - in their exhibition match race in Middelfart, Denmark on Thursday morning. Sehested too found the perfect way to navigate the rule: ‘Don’t beat the boss at golf.”
The Crown Prince was skippering his four-man crew of Denmark’s Olympic legends; Jesper Bank (Olympic gold medallist, in soling in Barcelona 1992 and in Sydney 2000), Thomas Jacobsen (Olympic gold in soling in 2000), Henrik Blakskjær (Olympic gold medal in the soling in 2000) and Peter Lang (Olympic bronze medal in London in 2012).
They rounded the first windward mark in the lead but went too wide and Sehested took him on the inside with a slicker spinnaker set.
Sehested and his crew; Thomas Hedegaard, Jesper Blom, Søren Secher and Peter Popp Wibroe, were warmed up and in form. They had already raced earlier in the morning and won – his fifth consecutive victory to preserve his 100 per cent record at the Nations Cup.
The Crown Prince showed consistently good speed upwind in their 20-minute match and almost managed to force Sehested away with a tack on the second beat. But the calculated risk did not pay off, he did not have right of way and the judges penalised him for not giving way to Sehested as the boats tacked together.
The Prince still managed to lead around the second windward mark, but with the penalty was always behind in reality and though he crossed the line first and then executed a smart penalty turn, it was not fast enough to stop Sehested winning.
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark
“I preferred losing to Nicolai than to my wife 10 years ago. It’s always hard to lose to your wife.
“It’s good to compete and have that tension. Whether you win or lose it’s important to do the best you can. I’d like to have sailed three flights, but unfortunately there wasn’t time.
“I’m not so experienced at match racing, I usually do fleet races, but I really enjoyed it.”
“Ah, penalties – we didn’t have a penalty flag on board or we could have had a penalty back. It’s very good that international sailing comes to Denmark. We have a good track record (for competitions) and we have the weather and currents. Danish waters are known for being challenging.”
“It was really good fun. He (Prince) was a tough competitor, it was the hardest race we’ve had here so far. I’m glad we had the penalty otherwise it could have been even tougher. But it was a clear penalty.”
“It was really great fun, we were just saying together that you get the hang of it again and you want another race, match racing is so much fun, but I’m too told for a comeback.
“It’s amazing to see a guy step onto a boat and take the leadership without having to say anything. He’s a natural born leader. It’s very relaxing to be on board with someone who can do that without more than two minutes talking together before.
“If they had given us a white penalty flag we might have come back. It was fair penalty. We worked out where we needed to be so we decided to tack and knew we would send them off (to the less favoured side) anyway, so it was a calculated risk.
“But we showed upwind that we are as fast as a winning boat in the Nations Cup.”
As an international class sailor who finished fourth in the Dragon-class boat at the 2003 European Championships and a former Danish navy seal, the Crown Prince is at home on the water. He will need to be because he is up against Denmark’s latest match racing young gun, the 23-year-old Nicholas Sehested, who is ranked 12th in the world and is one of the favourites to win the Nations Cup.
It is the Crown Prince's first match race since his famous "wedding waltz at sea". A week before his wedding to his Australian wife - Crown Princess Mary - they match raced each other - with each on their national team boat. The Crown Princess won.
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