Lerwick businessman Leslie Irvine is delighted with the handling of his new yacht Vandal, he said on Friday after completing the gruelling 1,000 mile race from Holland via Bergen.
Leslie and co-skipper Andrew Wood arrived home at around 5pm on Thursday. They are now busily preparing for the final leg of the journey when they head back to Bergen on Sunday.
The race enabled the pair to cover the necessary 300 miles to qualify for the 2010 Round Britain and Ireland event.
“I was looking for somewhere to get qualifying miles for next year’s two-handed Round Britain and Ireland Race. I can use this as a qualifier,” said Mr Irvine.
He said the new yacht, which was built in Hull, had proved to be a worthy contender, although they had had to deal with a number of physical challenges even before they got on board.
“It was a Le Mans-style start, which meant we had to make a dash for the boat. We didn’t think they were going to take it so seriously, because it was a rainy day.
“We were all kitted out in heavy weather gear, but there were these huge Dutch men in shorts and trainers, so we were lucky to be the second boat out of the harbour.”
Once out to sea, the vessel made good progress despite a wide mix of weather conditions. After an initial good start, the winds died down leaving many of the yachts going round in circles as they struggled to fill their sails with wind.
As they neared Bergen, however, the winds quickly built up to gale force speeds, leaving the crew with challenging conditions to deal with. They made good time however, finishing in third place in Bergen.
At the time of writing, the final results for the Bergen to Lerwick stage had not yet been compiled, although the crew were clearly satisfied with how they had performed.
Cornwall man Mr Wood, who came to Shetland in 2001 to work for Irvine Contractors for six months and stayed, said the event had been a “tactical” race, as they worked out the best route to stay ahead of their competitors.
“Because there was not a lot of wind we had to place ourselves very carefully. It was a good tactical game. It was a very exciting thing to do.”
To keep an eye on the yachts during their return leg of the journey to Bergen, log on to www.shetland-race.no