Local yacht enters race to raise profile of mental health charity

Yachts taking part in the annual Shetland Race from Bergen will start arriving in Lerwick on Thursday – including one local yacht.

This year marks the 30th annual race which started in 1987 – the first year saw only one competitor actually making the trip but it still ranked as a qualifying race. From 1988 the race has attracted a good number of entries annually.

Over 30 yachts were entered in this year’s event, bringing up to 200 sailors to Lerwick.

The entries are predominantly Norwegian but there are two British flagged yachts participating including local yacht Roundabout skippered by Tommy Allan. There is also a German entry, and a previous Scottish prizewinner Erin skippered by John Murphy but now registered in Norway.

Allan said: “It is good to have someone flying the Shetland flag in the fleet. We always enjoy welcoming the Norwegian visitors to the harbour and thought it was time to give them some competition.”

As well as taking part in the race the Roundabout crew is using the event to raise awareness of local mental health charity Mind Your Head, and in particular “The Grubby Hut Initiative” where staff visit male-dominated workplaces to speak to men in their canteens (or grub huts) about mental health.

Project manager Anouska Civico said: “It really is great that these guys want to raise awareness of our work here and encourage more men to talk about mental health.

“The idea of the Grubby Hut is to encourage men, in particular, to speak more openly with colleagues and family and friends about mental health like we do about physical health. The guys assure me that during their time together on the boat they will cover a multitude of topics, sport, religion, politics and mental health will come up too.”

The team is seeking sponsorship to help raise cash for Mind Your Head via the Virgin Money Giving website (search for Mind Your Head).

• The timings of the race at Lerwick are slightly different this year. The yachts left Bergen on Wednesday at 10am local time which is three hours earlier than normal.

The start back to Bergen has been brought forward to 4pm local time tomorrow rather than the more usual Sunday morning.

Volunteer timekeepers at the finish line at Lerwick Boating Club will be on duty for arrival and a voluntary liaison crew at Victoria Pier will greet each yacht.

The main social event at Lerwick is the prizegiving being hosted at Mareel auditorium at 6pm today. A civic welcome is being provided by Shetland Islands Council with sponsor support from BP and Peterson UK.


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