Around 50 international yachts will be competing in a race to Lerwick in two weeks’ time.
The annual Bergen-Shetland Races, combined with the second leg of the annual 1,000 Mile Race which starts in the Netherlands this coming weekend, will bring up to 250 sailors to Shetland.
The 1,000 Mile Race is for double-handed yachts with two crew members on each. Eight yachts will start in Scheveningen in Holland on Sunday with the first leg of their race to Bergen.
Joining the race is Lerwick sailor Leslie Irvine with his new yacht Vandal which was designed and built in Holland.
The 1,000 Mile competitors will join the larger Bergen-Shetland Race which starts in Bergen on Wednesday 24th June to arrive in Lerwick the following. The race back to Bergen starts on the morning of Sunday 28th June.
There are several classes in the Bergen-Shetland Races – as well as the double-handed class with two crew members, there are fully-crewed classes and some large yachts such as first-time entrant Xxtreme. The fastest yachts will be hoping to set a new record time for the crossing.
The race weekend at Lerwick coincides with the Johnsmas Foy and the annual Flavour of Shetland event which will take place on Victoria Pier over the race days, providing a flavour of Shetland culture, food and entertainment.
The entertainment marquee on Victoria Pier provides the venue for the races’ prizegiving on the Friday evening. The half-way prizes are keenly contested with friendly rivalry among the sailors. A spokesman for the Shetland Race Committee, which is organising the visit of the international crews, said they were indebted to the sponsors for providing a welcome to the yachts. Zetland Bonded Services and Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK are regular supporters and this year they are joined by O’Hare & McGovern as main sponsor of the prizegiving event.
Meanwhile, Shetland Islands Council is to be the title sponsor of the Round Britain and Ireland sailing race next year, the second time the authority has backed the notoriously difficult two-handed event.
The race, which has been hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC) every four years since 1966, starts in Plymouth on 6th June. Lerwick is one of the four compulsory stops.
SIC business development manager Douglas Irvine said: “We supported the race in 2006 and found it to be a great way to introduce sailors to the delights of Shetland. We are thrilled to be a part of it again and look forward to welcoming the competitors to the island with a real Shetland welcome.”
Race director Peter Taylor said: “Shetland Islands Council is a great fit with the race and we are delighted to welcome them onboard once again as title sponsor. The RWYC has hosted this race for more than 40 years and this is its 12th edition. This is a tough race and the competitors have to be prepared for some very testing conditions.”
Entries will be limited to 50 boats so competitors should get in touch with the RWYC as soon as possible.