Sailing in Croatia: Opening and Day 1 Account of the Hanse Cup Adriatic 2018

From the 21st – 24th April 2018, we attended the Hanse Cup Adriatic organised by Croatia Yachting Charter, it was an amazing 3 days of sailing and fun. Here, we bring you the account from the opening day and first day of racing.

Have you ever wanted to experience a regatta but don’t think you have the ability or aren’t interested in a highly-competitive regatta? Then entering a charter regatta is something you should definitely consider.

From the 21st – 24th April, myself and some friends attended the Hanse Cup Adriatic 2018 and had a spectacular 3 days of sailing and fun at sea. Around 170 participants from 12 countries on 28 Hanse yachts joined the 6th edition of the Hanse Cup Adriatic 2018. The regatta was organised by Croatia Yachting, the official dealer of Hanse Yachts and Sailing Club Zenta. The aim of the regatta is to highlight the fast cruising capabilities and easy handling of Hanse Yachts, while obviously promoting Croatia as the great sailing destination that it is. The event was also supported by key sponsors – Uniqa and ACI Club, as well as Erste Leasing and OTP Leasing.

Almost the entire range of Hanse Yachts participated in this regatta from the smallest Hanse 315 to the luxurious Hanse 588, while the recently presented new Hanse models – Hanse 388, Hanse 418 and Hanse 548 had their racing debut. 

Our crew was made up of 5 women (female power) and 2 gents, we also had an assortment of experience between us. Nick Hathaway and his wife Mahina have their own sailing company and have racing and instructor experience from NZ, they brought along their friend – Samantha Williams who is a sailmaker and also has racing and instructing experience. Mila Hvilshoj used to train and race with the sponsored Marina Frapa women’s team, I have been at sea in Croatia for 5 years, but mostly on larger mini-cruisers or 100 ft + gulets, whereas Peter Milic and Mirela Rus had almost zero experience sailing. So, we were a bit of a mish-mosh of a crew but that is the beauty of a charter regatta, it provides the opportunity for everyone to take part (an experienced skipper being essential of course).

Check-in and Regatta Opening

We arrived in Marina Kaštela at 3 pm on Saturday, 21st April to check-in with the lovely Ivana and do a walk-through of our boat with Stanko. Nick has chartered yachts from Croatia Yachting on a number of occasions for different guests and commented that he is always impressed with the thoroughness and professionalism of the Croatia Yachting team and that he “always learns something new” with Stanko. This is worthy of note because it is the same experience that people can expect from Croatia Yachting when chartering in-season.

GOPR2488 (800 x 600).jpg

And, thanks to the thorough walk-through by Stanko and Nick’s knowledge of racing, it was discovered that we were missing two sheet winches, the Croatia Yachting team jumped immediately to action and they were installed within the hour. This again goes to show why they won Charter Company of the year in 2017; a great business and company is not measured by perfection but also how they respond to situations that arise. When racing or chartering, any number of situations can arise and you want to trust that you are in the hands of professionals who will respond accordingly (and in-time).

With everything taken care of, we all unpacked and got settled into our ‘home’ for the next few days, ‘Melina’ a brand-new, 2018 Hanse 455. Our class of Hanse 455's had a fleet of 12 out of 28 boats.

The official opening and welcome took place at 6 pm, in a very traditional manner – with local delicacies like soparnik and a few liqueurs. Following this, was the skipper’s meeting where Nick received his instructions for the following day’s race and crew shirts for us all. Saturday was an early night in preparation for the first day of racing.

GOPR2482 (800 x 600).jpg

GOPR2485 (800 x 600).jpg

GOPR2492 (800 x 600).jpg

I have already shared these, but to see Nick’s vlog account of the check-in and opening, see the video below.

Day 1 of Racing, Drvenik to Šibenik

We dropped our lines just before 8 am on Sunday morning and headed out of the marina, racing was to commence at Drvenik around 11 am. Unfortunately, there was barely a hint of a breeze but while motoring to Drvenik, Nick took the opportunity to do a briefing, explaining our positions and how it was all going to work. Because sailing together was new to all of us, and sailing in general – new to two of our crew, we raised the mainsail and gennaker before the start to practice some manoeuvres.

There were to be no gennakers on the start line, so we packed it away and milled around the line, waiting for the final countdown. Off the start line, we managed to have a decent position and raised our gennaker. And we were off… kind of, there was very little wind, so the race was slow-going. At one point we were side-by-side with another yacht – ‘Hogar’, who were all quite contentedly drinking beers – and why not, that’s the ‘fun’ of a charter regatta!

GOPR2497 (800 x 600).jpg

As it was such slow-going, Nick decided to try and do something different – a pattern he followed for the next few days. We dropped our gennaker and raised our genoa to tack away from the crowd and closer to the coast to try and pick up more wind, once away we furled away the genoa and raised the gennaker again. It was a risky move and technically put us ‘behind’ the rest of the fleet but the aim was to try and create an almost ‘slingshot’ movement – by sailing as close to the coast as we could to pick up the 5-knots of wind versus the 2-knots we had sailing with the mob and then gybe back away from the coast, hopefully overtaking the fleet… Ok, we didn’t overtake the entire fleet, but the move did work to an extent and gave us a jump on quite a few boats.

GOPR2500 (800 x 600).jpg

This is us sailing away from the rest of the fleet!

While the light conditions weren’t ideal for a race, it was maybe perfect for us, so we could all get used to each other and the boat. We were all impressed with how the Hanse 455 handled and Nick and Sammie, “geeked out” over the small details, like the ties on the lazy bag, which made it easy to tie down rather than pack completely away – nice touch Hanse.

GOPR2513 (800 x 600).jpg


Photo credit: Mirela Rus, Mila trimming the gennaker

The day was spent sailing with the gennaker and we all enjoyed working it continuously, we probably gybed more than we needed to but it was great practice and a lot more fun than drifting in the light breeze.


Credit: Croatia Yachting


Credit: Croatia Yachting

Considering the low winds, everyone finished the course and made their way to Šibenik for our first night. We came in 12th overall in a fleet of 28 boats and 5th in our class of the Hanse 455’s. Not a bad effort for our first day of racing and first ever day racing together! Here, thanks need to be said to Nick, Mahina and Sammie for their guidance throughout the day, we all learned a lot and had a great time in the process. ‘Bare Necessities’ (Hanse 455), came in first overall for day one.


Our crew Melina, or 'SeaCup' as we decided we were called: Peter Milic, Mahina Hathaway, Nick Hathaway, Samantha Williams, Mila Hvilshoj, myself, Mirela Rus


Credit: Croatia Yachting, all of the Hanse yachts lined up on the promenade in Sibenik

But the day wasn’t over, once everyone was refreshed and ready, we all met in front of the impressive St. James Cathedral in Šibenik for a group photo and then walked to the top of St. Michael's fortress – a bit of a hike but well worth it to watch the stunning sunset over the canal. Dinner and live music followed in the main square opposite the Cathedral.

HCA-2018-231 (800 x 533).jpg

Credit: Croatia Yachting Official

GOPR2529 (732 x 800).jpg

Most of the time regattas and charters focus on central and south Dalmatia, so being in Šibenik (a town truly underrated – read more about Šibenik here), in pre-season was really refreshing and I am so glad many of the participants got to experience it.


Credit: Croatia Yachting

SAM_4680 (800 x 450).jpg

Besides the lack of wind, day 1 was an absolute success with a great energy and vibe, our crew began working as a team over the course of the day, sailing the Hanse 455 met – if not exceeded expectations, the weather was gorgeous and to finish in the picturesque town of Šibenik (minus the crowds) was just the icing on the cake.


I had all intentions of keeping my account very short and even left out a lot of details; however, it seems this has still managed to become quite lengthy, so, to keep up the suspense, I am going to break this into a few parts. Stay tuned for the next 2 days. You can see the video account of Day 2 below


Unless stated otherwise, photos are by Tash Pericic.