Yachtsmen reflect on their winning Bergen to Lerwick trip

The yachts make a fine sight berthed in Lerwick Harbour. Photo: Garry Sandison

The 33 yachts taking part in the Bergen to Lerwick race are due to leave on the return at 4pm today, hoping for the same excellent sailing conditions they enjoyed for most of the run across the North Sea.

Only during the final dozen or so miles did the winds drop, with the first-leg winners Solo 2 and others regularly reaching speeds of up to 25 knots.

Skipper Rune Aasberg, 50, and his co-skipper Simen Løvgren, 53, accepted their first-over-the-line and category winners trophies, along with other awards, during a prizegiving reception hosted by Shetland Islands Council at Mareel last night.

Rune Aasberg (left) and Simen Løvgren with their awards. Photo: Garry Sandison
Rune Aasberg (left) and Simen Løvgren with their awards. Photo: Garry Sandison

It was Mr Aasberg’s third victory in the event, his first being with the original Solo, now rather inappropriately renamed the Rubber Duck and taking part again this year.

Before the trophies and medals were handed out an eight-minute film of the first leg was shown, displaying frantic activity onboard the boats as they left Bergen.

A drone camera was also used and captured exceptional views of the now becalmed yachts as they rounded Bressay on the final few miles to Lerwick, with the Bard, the south gun and the lighthouse in all their glory.

Stephen Johnston of Lerwick Boating Club thanked the event sponsors, including the council, Peterson, BP and Zetland Bonded Services, before introducing SIC deputy convener Cecil Smith.

Mr Smith welcomed the sailors on what was a very signficant anniversary, being the 30th year of the race.

“The yachts bring beauty and colour to the centre of our town,” he said. What other level of sport do we see where everybody has the same level of cameraderie? Have a safe journey back home, do enjoy yourselves, but please be careful.”

Mr Johnson made mention of the event being on the same day the result of the historic European referendum was announced.

“The UK has left the EU … If Scotland leaves the UK then Shetland might leave Scotland. Some of you have friends in high places who might be of use to us,” he joked, to much applause.

Back onboard their yacht later the winning crew reflected on their first-leg race success, and revealed they had discovered what could have been a serious issue on arrival in Lerwick.

“We had a problem with the engine which we just noticed when we got here,” Mr Aasberg said.

“Yesterday the propeller was at a funny angle and when we looked further we saw that the mounting bolts had broken.”

An electrician by trade himself, Mr Aasberg said they assumed that the breakage had been caused by vibration on the way over when they were racing such high speeds. But the problem had now been sorted by local engineers who spent most of the day onboard and they were now all set to go again.

He said: “We really had the right angle on the wind, 90 degrees on the boat. It was perfect strength, between 15 and 25 knots, perfect conditions and we were sailing between 15 and 20 knots all the way.

“About 18 miles off Bressay the calm weather set in and then we started drifting. If we could have kept up all our speed all they way we would have beaten the record by two hours.”

Mr Løvren added they had also used a new sail for the first time during the trip which had proved absolutely perfect.

They will not be having much time for a rest when this event is over, however.

“We get back to Bergen with the race and will be leaving the boat there for one week. Then we come back on a training trip, back to Shetland and round Fair Isle and back to Oslo. We’re training for a big race next year from France to Brazil.”

And the following year Mr Aasberg will be involved in an even more daunting experience – when he is due to take part in a single-handed race from France to the Caribbean.

• For more stories and photos see The Shetland Times on Friday.



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