Thursday 28/1/2016, European Championship

ME DN 2016, Fredy Z-42 measuring bThe automatic doors of the hotel garage open slowly. Outside there is a column of dry leaves whirling in a mini tornado. There won’t be any racing today. For the first time I head to the race track in daylight. The meadows around are green, almost spring like, in contrast to the dark brown farm buildings perched on them. The car is buffeted by the gale.

We check the boats to see that they are OK. I had already pulled mine to safety up against the bank. Today just to be on the safe side I also take the mast down. The ice pitons of the boat held it all night in its place. That is saying something because in such warm weather (still plus 6-8 degrees) the ice around the pitons normally melts and they fall out. The conclusion of the race commission is clear. We will meet again the next day at nine in the morning. The forecast for tomorrow (Friday) is good, only 6 m/s. The commission will still observe the ice today, to see if it can withstand the wind pressure and not break up. If it does then they will let us know and we should be setting off home already this evening.

So today no reports from the ice. I will share at least what I saw yesterday in the city. Dutch traders and businessmen at the start of the industrial revolution 500 years ago started the fame and wealth of Norrköping. That’s what the deputy mayor told us at the ceremonial opening in front of the city hall. He also spoke of 150 textile factories along the river next to the city centre. As with us the textile industry went into decline and the city clearly suffered a major crisis. And clearly managed it.

ME DN 2016, textilky 1 bWhen I entered the complex of factories which meandered like a snake along the river, I could not believe my eyes. The first thing to strike you is the river itself – it is regulated, everywhere races, canals, sluices and high weirs. Textile factories needed lots of water. All were built as close as possible to the river to have direct access to water. At dusk I walk around the closely packed factory buildings.  ME DN 2016, textilky 3 b

All perfectly reconstructed, transformed into concert halls, company offices, coffee bars, bars and theatres. All kinds of installations and works of art. I go on a bridge, over a canal, another bridge, a race and over the river. The river reflects a chimney, lights, a huge light like a candle on top of a factory chimney. Imagine what it was like in those times when it was in full operation.

ME DN 2016, textilky 2 bI myself am from Krnov, in the Sudetenland where German businessmen also built many textile factories. The communists ran them for 40 years without investing in new technologies or environmental protection. I remember how there were many little mounds of foam floating on the River Opava, one after another, and how as boys we threw stones at them. Some days the water would be red, and on others blue, depending on the dyes the factories were using.  Here in Norrköping the situation must have been even worse with such a great concentration of factories. The thick smoke from the factory chimneys, the polluted water in the river, the densely clustered workers’ dwellings around the factories and the smoke from their fires …

But nowadays it is full of life. I slog my way through the crowds exiting the theatre, everywhere there are the cars parked of those still in work, avoiding the many cyclists. Irena and Karel Janda from Sušice, the architects of our Compotech factory, would like it.

ME DN 2016, textilky 4 bHere in Norrkoping capable people and wise civil servants came together (sounds like a contradiction in terms) and people with a vision received the resources and space to make it happen. It turned out beautifully. If you ever find your way here, make sure that you take a look at the local “factories”.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings …