Becalmed! Yachts forced to give up windless race

Fine weather put paid to a number of vessels competing in the Lerwick to Bergen race last week, with many competitors unable to complete the event because of a lack of wind.

The last boats to finish the race did not manage to cross the line until Wednesday, despite having set off for the final leg of the journey on Sunday.

One of the casualties of the fine weather was Lerwick businessman Leslie Irvine, who was forced to pull out of the last stretch of the gruelling Thousand Mile Race after calm conditions left him making painfully slow progress across the water in his new yacht Vandal.

The skipper and his companion, Robbie Bruce, had to turn back towards Shetland early on Monday morning after taking 20 hours to cover the first 50 miles of the journey. More favourable conditions might have seen the vessel travel 140 miles in that time.

He was not alone in throwing in the towel, however. First to cross the line among the Thousand Mile competitors, which had set off from Holland last week, was the Norwegian yacht Farvide.

However it was something of a hollow victory, as only two competitors made it to the end, the other yacht being Greyhound.

The Lerwick to Bergen race will have given more cause for celebration to Rune Aasberg and Hans Bauck, who became the first to cross the line in Solo in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Their victory was all the more glorious, because they were also the first to arrive at Lerwick harbour in the earlier stage of the race.

Mr Irvine said he had been disappointed to have pulled out of the race.

“We just sailed into a big hole. I was looking at the weather forecast on the computer, and we couldn’t find a way of being there in time for the end of the race.

“Because of the light winds they gave us an extra 20 hours to get there, but even given that there was no way we could get there in time. We got 50 miles off Shetland in 20 hours. Sometimes we’d get a bit of wind, but there were too many hours to make up.”

Despite pulling out, Vandal made good progress throughout the race’s earlier stages.

She came third into Bergen from Holland in the first leg of the event, and arrived in fourth place in her class in the Bergen to Shetland stage.

Mr Irvine said his new vessel, which was recently built in Hull, had performed well during the venture, which saw he and Andrew Wood – who accompanied him during the first two legs of the race – sail 600 miles from Holland to Bergen before covering another 200 miles by racing against competitors in the Bergen to Lerwick Race.

The return trip to Bergen would have made up the last 200 miles of the journey, however high pressure over Shetland left no wind to fill the vessel’s sails.

All 43 yachts that started the Bergen to Shetland race arrived safely in Lerwick Harbour last Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday a sail-off was held at Lerwick Harbour with the second placed yachts in each class of the Bergen to Shetland races competing to win a VHF radio.

Each class winner had already received a radio so this was a second opportunity for the runners-up.

Hanna Marie, a popular Shetland Race competitor over many years, was a worthy winner.

Next year, the Bergen-Shetland Races will visit Lerwick in mid-summer to coincide with the Round Britain and Ireland Race 2010.


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