This September -for the first time ever- Helsinki hosted the M32 Series sailing competition that took place at Hernesaarenranta. Hernesaarenranta is a 2,000 m² multi-purpose area where you can relax and enjoy food and drinks under the sun and by the sea. A brand new concept that was launched in the summer of 2015 in Helsinki and it’s here to stay.

I met with Kai Joronen -Hernesaarenranta’s Food & Beverage Manager- to talk about this unique concept. “Hernesaarenranta is unique in Helsinki because it is the only place in central Helsinki where you can arrive by boat, park your boat at our harbour and go straight into one of our restaurants!” explains Kai. Under Hernesaarenranta’s roof there is a selection of handpicked brands present; namely, Hanko Sushi, Street Gastro, Robert’s Coffee, Ben & Jerry’s, the Seaside Bar and Champagne & Wine Bar as well as Piece ’n’ Love Pizza, Sun Terrace Bar and the Chalupa food truck. Finland’s serial entertainment entrepreneur Sedu Koskinen is the father of the concept and with a group of investors his vision has turned into reality.

In my social media feed, I have been noticing people of all walks of life and age groups writing and posting photos from Hernesaarenranta this summer. Even though I have been invited, I wasn’t able to attend prior to this day. “Hernesaarenranta is for everyone, people with children during the day and in the evening you can see anyone from 18 to 80 years old, as our music varies from the 50’s to 2000’s tunes,” says Kai.

We arrived on Friday, September 4, a day of blue sky, a cool southwest breeze and an exciting race sailing competition unfolding over the waters.

Theron Catering provided the food for all the competing crews as well as the sponsors twice a day. Lunch and  after-sail buffets were prepared over 4 days for approximately 120 people.

“I have cooperated with Theron Catering before in the catering of nightclubs and embassy events. This is the first time we cooperate with Theron Catering at Hernesaarenranta and we are happy with their service and food. Today we had a creamy Atlantic salmon and potato casserole for lunch and yesterday the most delicious grilled hamburgers! You understand that the sailors need a lot of energy!” says Kai.

We arrived on the after-sail buffet on Day 2 of the Battle of Helsinki and the theme was ‘barbecue’. Take a look what the menu included:

Sausage assortment from the grill: Lamb chorizo, Bratwurst, Finnish sausage

Salad buffet: green salad, potato salad, noodle salad

And, to spice the food up, spicy salsa, jalapeños and chipotle mayonnaise were served, too.

The crew members of the sailing boats, exhausted after hours battling with the wind and waves, wanted to recharge their batteries with a warm, solid meal. They kept serving themselves from the buffet and everyone was enjoying the food and the company of their teammates.

I made a plate (or actually two) for myself to have a ‘hands-on’ opinion of the food served by Theron Catering. Friday and sausages sounds like a perfect combo! Extra points for the disposable bamboo plates.

Also, I had the chance to talk with Martin Sohtell, M32 Series Commercial Director who has a long experience in sports event management, marketing and economics. “I was headhunted for the M32 Series, which is a relatively new professional sailing series on a regional level. This is our third season and it is growing rapidly. We are aiming at transforming race boating adding a nice beat to it. We have an interest in the Finnish market and we are looking to expand M32 Series into Baltic Series, too. We think we could establish a Finnish team next year, we are now in discussion with 4-5 teams who wish to enter next year.  This year the Battle of Helsinki is on a small scale, it is more of an experiment and we are looking forward to its evolution. In Helsinki, we have 8 crews this year that include world champions, olympic gold medalists and high-calibre sailors that prepare for the world championships and the hunt for 1million dollars!” explains Martin about why the Battle of Helsinki took place in Finland this year. The M32 Cup organisers are exporting the concept to new regions by  creating multiple regional Series with a truly global footprint, new circuits will be launched in Iberia, in the UK and they have already launched a series in USA.

“Helsinki is proving itself from its best side. Today we had what we call ‘champagne conditions’, which means ‘perfect conditions’ with wind, blue sea, warm water and clear skies,” adds Martin about the weather conditions in Helsinki.

There are 80 people from the sailing boat crews and 25 people responsible for the media production of the event yet Theron Catering has been prepared to serve 120 people. “The media team eats like normal people but sailors need to eat up! We have sailors who are 100kg with 0% bodyfat and they could easily eat what 3-4 people would eat. We need to have good, hearty food for them -the same way you would prepare to feed a hockey team!- because it is an extremely physical sport, since for 3 hours battling in the water. Theron Catering followed the guidelines we provided to them regarding the needs of the crews,” explains Martin.

After our interview, we headed to the press event where Martin would announce the winners of today’s winning teams that would enable them to continue racing into the top battles coming up!

Day 2 of the Battle of Helsinki started with champagne weather conditions and at the press event announcing the winners, the champagne was everywhere -literally!

Suomenkielinen tiivistelmä:

Battle of Helsingissä grillaillaan!

Hernesaarenrannassa järjestettiin ensimmäistä kertaa M32-sarjan purjehduskilpailu ”The Battle of Helsinki”, jonka miehistön ja järjestäjät Theron Catering ruokki nelipäiväisen tapahtuman ajan. Tapasin Hernesaarenrannan ravintoloista vastaavan Kai Jorosen, joka kertoi kesällä 2015 avatusta uudesta konseptista. Hernesaarenranta on siitä ainutlaatuinen paikka, että sen ravintolatarjontaan pääsee tutustumaan myös veneellä. Lisäksi pääsin myös keskustelemaan M32-sarjan kaupallisen johtajan Martin Sohtellin kanssa, joka oli varsin tyytyväinen siihen, kuinka Helsinki näyttäytyi tapahtuman aikana.

Text: Chryssa Skodra

Photos: Kim Ekman