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Interview to sailor Kristaps Dzenis


Seaclub is the portal devoted to yachts and speedboats. Speedboats are mainly connected to recreation, yet sailing is more sport. In the interview to the professional sailor and director of yacht club "Auda" Kristaps Dzenis the main issue was the situation in Latvian and Baltic yacht regattas. Captain Kristaps admits that most of regattas organized in Latvia have remained from the Soviet period. The characteristics of these regattas are low concurrence, insignificant involvement and interest of the public.


At the present moment the most popular regatta is "Around the Ronu island- 100th anniversary", that was founded in 1907. This is the oldest regatta in Latvia, that is renewed after interval of decades.

In the opinion of professional sailors the best regatta in the Baltic is the Estonian regatta "Muhu Väina" that will take place in the Archipelago of the Estonian Islands from 15th till 21st July. The Muhu Väina regatta is one with the greatest concurrence and number of contestants. Unlike in Latvian regattas, leaders of the competition can not be predicted since new and strong sailors from the Baltic states and Russia are invited every year and the boats and equipment become better. This year Muhu Väina will come to Latvian port Roja but next year one of the races will be held in Latvia. Kristaps Dzenis admits that the Estonian regattas are organized much better than Latvian and we can learn from our neighbors.

Extreme adventures

Kristaps' first yacht experience was together with his father, but in the age of six, he steer the yacht "Optimist" on his own. For a boy from Mangalsala sailing was the most accessible sport. As a teenager he won in the Latvian junior championship Luc twice , in 1998 took part in the World junior championship class 470 though without much success.

In July 17, 2000, Kristaps Dzenis began his journey across the Baltic Sea. No one had ever done it with a yacht "Luc" that is meant for sailing in coastal waters. Until now, there was no sailor that had managed to sail the 250 miles across the sea without stopping.

The sailor admits that his yacht "Luc" was actually a four meter long trash, made in the nineties, it had one sail and a hole in the middle of it for sitting. The main problem during the trip was not the physical exhaustion, but the hallucinations. After two days of sailing with no sleep, there appears fantasies and nightmares- sailor believes to see shore, a person on the deck.

The sailing regulations do not allow sailing far from the shore with the unstable yachts "Luc". These yachts have a number of defects. Kristaps paid attention to these parts and secured the most dangerous places.

The experienced sailors considered the project impossible to carry out. They believed that the yacht would capsize and the sailor would drown. There was also an idea to go by a Finn class yacht but the "Zegeletaju savieniba" (Sailors' Union) did not give a permission. At that time most of the members of "Zegeletaju Savieniba" were sailors that had experience of sailing the low quality Soviet time yachts. When they were asked if it was possible to sail the distance against the wind, they gave a negative answer. But before the wind? - Only if the wind is less than 7 m/s- that is actually a negative answer as well. But the prohibition gave motivation to Kristaps.

"The first time I had this idea of the trip when I was in form nine. Edgars Terjohins sailed across the Baltic Sea on a wind glider and I thought that could do the same on a yacht "Luc". This idea remained an idea until once Ilgonis Balodis proposed the same thought. Since now there was someone who thought the same as I, there was no more doubt- I must sail!"

On the test drive Kristaps sailed 136 miles to Kolka horn and back. Because of the bad weather he suffered from cold, but after changing his clothes the return trip was better. During the twenty-nine hour trip he even managed to sleep for an hour, though he did not let the rudder go. "The big ship do not watch if I am there, and they cannot see me on their radars. At the same time I must watch out from the boom, so there is not much time for sleeping. The only food I will take with me are some Snickers- when you eat some of them the hunger disappears. The less you eat and drink on the yacht, the less problem you have because it is not so easy to satisfy one's nature's needs. You have life vest, then some equipment and the overall on you, it is no fun to take it all of.

There will be one or even two yachts accompanying Kristaps but he says that without a good reason he will not get on board. If the wind speed will be 5-7 m/s, both yachts will sail with the same speed. If the wind will be weaker, the big boat will be faster but if the wind speed will be bigger, "Luc" will be faster.

"My aim is to show what is sailing in Latvia and what I can do. I do not have so much money that I could take part in the international competition, so I had to make something bigger and less expensive. The cost of this project is approximately 2500 lats, my sponsors are more or less connected to sailing."

The extreme trip was approximately 200 miles, but unfortunately Kristaps did not manage to reach Stockholm. Kristaps tells that on his way back to Riga he was angry that had not reached his aim. He was worried about the reaction of those who were sure that the project is not manageable. "I do understand that I had to stop the trip. I had sailed through two storms and the night was just a nightmare. My joints were rubbed sore because of the hidro-suit and it was hard to move, I suffered from cold. I was so exhausted that I did not know how to sail any more, I had hallucinations. If I had not stopped, most probably I would have seriously damaged my health. The best reward was the congratulations of welcomers, especially experienced sailors. They could judge how hard it is to sail in so bad condition."

Chaos regarding Latvian inland waterways

Following the information published in the mass media about an up to now unidentified cutter hitting a boat and killing twenty-three year old Deniss in the Lielupe, we wish to hear opinion of a professional thus asked Kristaps Dzenis his opinion about this event and the possible solutions of the problem.

There is practically no police in the inner waters of Riga and though the number of yachts and Speedboats grow there is no control. The police work hard and the mass media gives a lot of information about drinking and driving, especially in the period of Ligo, but the per cent of drunk boat drivers is large and left without attention. There is a lot of aggressive and drunk drivers of Speedboats in Latvia;at the same time the police has only three Speedboats, one of which is broken even before it has been used, the parking places paid by the government are re-rented to other drivers. In the Lielupe girls are practicing rowing, but the Speedboats are going on high speed and just for fun they even turn the boat upside down. In the Lielupe, Kisezers and Vecdaugava inebriate motorboat drivers drive so fast that the wave they create makes roped boats hit the bank;luckily nobody swims there. After the tragic Ligo event the government of Latvia will most probably limit the traffic of dingeys and rowing boats. During weekends an holidays it is not recommended to go by a small boat in the Lielupe and other waters of Riga because the row may turn into a death slalom- according to eye-witnesses not only drunk drivers but even children at the rudder will endanger your life and health. Even after the tragic event with Deniss, when the divers searched for his remains, a water motorcyclist almost hit the diver though a boat with a flag was on duty.

As a result of successful cooperation of the police of Jurmala and the police of Riga, according to the evidences of the eyewitnesses and the yacht center's video recordings the cutter involved in the accident as well as it's owner were identified. On the police demand the owner of the cutter arrived to the police. "The culprit has admitted his guilt. The guilty person will not be arrested because he has admitted his fault and the crime was committed because of inattention;the man witnessed that he had not noticed the boat."

If something similar would happen, for example, in the USA, the captain of the cutter, having killed a man on purpose or because of inattention, most probably would be arrested, but in Latvia it seems that the victim will be the guilty.

Captains and owners of Speedboats admit that drunk vacationers do disturb and inconvenience the traffic of motorized water transport. Sometimes vacationers and fishermen jump in front of boat , that may be compared to pedestrians crossing a motorway in a place where it is not allowed.

The possible solutions are as follows:

  • Water police
  • The municipalities of Riga and Jurmala should appoint policemen that would control the situation on water
  • Coast guard, posts of rescue and observation
  • A zone bordered with buoys for swimming and fishing with a distance of at least 10 meters from motorized water transport
  • To establish places in the inner waters where boats would be allowed to drive faster than 10 m/s (approx. 40 km/h)
  • Water police patrolling in the inner waters, especially during weekends.


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