Clear skies and good winds created fantastic racing conditions at the Peter Gast Schifffahrtsregatta — until they didn’t.

The 40th edition of the maritime world’s biggest privately organised sailing regatta was in full swing when a leaden calm set in about 10 miles (16 km) from the finish. This prompted race director Alexander Prinz zu Schleswig-Holstein to shorten the competition by setting the finish flag off Skjoldnas, Denmark.

“We experienced great cinema at the finish line,” he said.

Some boats crossed the line almost at the same time, while others missed it or ignored flag signals.

Several vessels used the last bit of wind to inch past the finish. Others, such as the yacht Ospa, were caught in a slack hole and drifted back, its crew watching helplessly as smaller boats raced past.

Such racing drama was a fitting prelude for the regatta’s traditional evening events on 26 August on the island of Aeroskobing.

About 1,000 participants followed organisers Christian and Dieter Gast as they marched through the picturesque Danish port’s cobblestone streets to the tunes of a marching band.

Daniel Guether, prime minister of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, took part for the first time as guest of honour on board the sailing vessel Haspa Hamburg.

A few hours later at the awards ceremony, Dieter Gast reminisced about the event’s modest beginnings and his father, Peter, who set it up.

“My father did everything right — the perfect timing, right after the summer vacations [and] sportive sailing through one of the most beautiful areas of the Baltic Sea to a perfect location,” he said.

Before moving on to its current spacious facilities, the regatta’s evening dinner was first held in a restaurant, later in a circus tent and then for several years in a gym.

The first ship home this year was the TP 52 boat Outsider, followed by the Uca and the Volvo Ocean 60 Racer Glashaeger.