WATCH: Shetland Race return leg start postponed until tomorrow

Skpper Carl Olav Wickmann with the crew of the winning yacht Winocean. Photo: Garry Sandison

With strong winds today the organisers of the Shetland Race between Bergen and Lerwick have decided to postpone leg two of the race back to Norway.

The 39 yachts still taking part will now depart Lerwick at 11am tomorrow from the start line at the Lerwick Boating Club pier.

The first leg saw the 40-foot Winocean, skippered by Carl Olav Wickmann with a crew of nine including his father and three brothers, emerge as overall winner and first in her class. They made the trip in just over 39 and a half hours.

Other class winners included Bliss in the double-handed category, X Factor and Hanna Marie, the latter skippered by Rolf Helmansen who has taken part 25 times including the first race in 1987.

The wooden spoon for the last boat to cross the finishing line before the cut-off time went for the second year running to the only Shetland boat in the race, the Roundabout skippered by Lerwick solicitor Tommy Allan. The huge bottle of whisky they won as an additional prize was donated to the Lerwick lifeboat to be raffled for charity.

Mr Allan said later he was absolutely delighted with the result and the performance, where they actually finished third in their group. One of the boats to beat them in the class was the Hanna Marie, which was the overall winner once the handicaps were adjusted.

The sailors all attended the prizegiving reception in Mareel last night, hosted by Shetland Islands Council. The SIC was represented by depute convener Beatrice Wishart due to convener Malcolm Bell being in Gotland for the island games.

Ms Wishart welcomed everyone present and wished the competitors all the best for the return leg. She mentioned that next year’s event would also be included as one of the legs in the new Viking Race, which will see yachts head on to Faroe and Iceland.

“You fill the harbour with brightness and colour,” Ms Wishart said. “And you reinforce our cultural links across the North Sea. Have a safe onward journey when you return but for now please enjoy this reception and enjoy Shetland.”

There were loud cheers all round when it was announced that the start of the return race to Bergen would be put back a day until Sunday due to forecasted winds of over 45 knots. Saturday night entertainment in the boating club, with fiddler and sailor Maggie Adamson among those performing, would obviously be popular.

Speaking onboard the winning boat Winocean later, Mr Wickmann revealed that there had been one hairy moment on the way across when the sail came down unexpectedly, but otherwise everything had gone pretty well.

The 34-year-old, a marine engineer with an oil company based in Bergen, said the race had been very challenging from their perspective.

“We had very little breeze right after the start, and the crew kept complaining about still having the sight of Bergen even after 12 hours of trying to sail away from it.

“But then again the breeze picked up and we got very good speed towards Lerwick.

“We had one unfortunate incident when the sail dropped down on the boat and we had to send a crewmember up the mast to take down the halyards again to get the sail up.

“We had a lot of waves then and I guess no-one really enjoyed being [up] there. Luckily one of my crewmembers volunteered.

“We figured out after he came down that perhaps we were not the smartest ones, sending a doctor up the mast, in case of anything happening!

“But our number one priority is of course always safety for crewmembers, and then enjoying ourselves is the second. And the third is competing and performing well in the competition.

“Luckily we had no injuries [on the way] over and we are very happy about that. We just had slight problems with the equipment but nothing to complain about.

“Of course now we are very happy about winning the competition and being first over.”

Mr Wickmann said they had no problem with the start of the return leg being postponed until Sunday.

“We are quite happy to spend another night in Lerwick. We have organised some golfing and we are looking forward to doing some sightseeing and that.”


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