- by Peter Koelewijn, 27-06-2018
Although there was not enough wind for a serious sailing competition, we all held our breath as Cees Hopman showed us the sea chart with the route for this year’s Sail Battle, a biennial event arranged by Heinen & Hopman. This sailing competition on classic wooden ships is designed to strengthen relations with our clients. The participants have to work hard together on a boat to achieve victory, which serves as a metaphor for our everyday business. Sixteen ships were divided into two groups: slow (starting ten minutes earlier) and fast. Teams were made and everyone got the number of their boat. Bad luck for us as our team had a boat in the first group.
On our way to the harbour we took a quick look at the flags hanging on the side to determine the wind direction - east-north-east. We started in tenth place and, while still jostling for position, the signal went off. A short horn blow was the sign to set sail and go! We made a good start, passing two vessels with ease in the first five minutes. After that we had a minor battle with the BU113 (all the boats have coded names after their place of origin) but eventually overtook them too. It was all going swimmingly and, by the time we reached the buoy to turn around, we were second.
Now came the hard part. When facing the wind you have to sail sideways. The race was tight and as we passed the harbour we were neck-and-neck with the EB29 at the front of the battlefield. Our vessel was faster so we gradually got our noses in front. Looking aft the view was astonishing, with all the classic wooden ships battling each other to try and make up the gap. While enjoying the sight we noticed one white-sailed vessel. This was the BU25 – a category two vessel – steaming towards us! The finish lay only one hundred metres ahead. ‘All crew to the starboard side!’ the skipper yelled. We quickly jumped to the side and hoped for the best, but it was too late. They caught us just fifty metres from the finish line and we had to settle for second place, but what a battle it was!
After finishing the race the vessels sailed slowly to shore, where we docked at a small quay connected to a dyke. All this sailing had made us hungry so we walked to the other side of the dyke to enjoy the delicious food and ice cold beer. In the afternoon sun we discussed the events from earlier that day. It was good to hear how everybody cooperated to get the best results in this race, which ultimately is what the Sail Battle is all about. To reflect the importance of having a good relation with our client. When building a ship you have to participate as a team, strengthening each other.
‘By working together, we can win every battle.’
Peter Koelewijn | Sales Manager
Peter Koelewijn has been working at Heinen & Hopman since 2001. Starting out as a mechanic, he gained valuable field experience mounting ducts and pipes for various shipbuilding projects. Five years later he switched to engineering, where he worked his way up from draughtsman, to engineer to site manager, leading teams of HVAC mechanics at one of the largest shipyards in Germany. The last couple of years he has been working as sales manager, combining knowledge from the field and the office to find the best solutions for our customers.