The yacht Rubber Duck was first over the line in the first leg of the Shetland (Bergen to Lerwick) Race and her two-man crew were at the forefront of the prizegiving ceremony at Mareel on Friday evening.
Skipper Morten Offerdal, a 16-time veteran of the event, and Espen Børresen won the blue ribbon and the Lerwick Port Authority Prize, with a host of other awards being handed out.
“We were not expecting to be first,” Mr Offerdal said. “Espen had one and a half hours on the boat before we started. We had a slow start but two knots of wind is still a wind.”
Although the pair have been friends from childhood this is actually the first time they have sailed a yacht together.
Mr Offerdal said: “We had an upwind most of the way over, which meant a lot of tacking, but the boat is made for an upwind. Thirty-six knots is the maximum speed by law but you can go as fast as you want when you are planing. We never made it higher than 14 though.”
Asked if they expected to win the return leg as well he appeared reasonably confident.
“We are supposed to have the quickest boat so we have to be first back again.”
The Mareel event began with a welcome from SIC convener Malcolm Bell, who thanked all the visiting sailors for coming to Shetland.
The Viking Race, which takes in Faroe and Iceland, is also part of the overall competition this year and Mr Bell could not resist a dig in relation to the former island group.
He suggested that the Viking competitors remind the Faroese when they got up there that the Norröna, flagship of the Smyril Line which the council invested millions in, no longer called here.
“Connections with Norway are something we take very, very seriously indeed,” Mr Bell said, urging the competitors to visit the Lerwick Town Hall if they got a chance.
“The stained glass windows are looking particularly brilliant in the summer sunshine,” he said. “I would like to say the weather we have enjoyed these last few days is normal, but as many of you have been here before you would know that I would be lying.”
Pins for taking part in the Shetland Race for five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years were handed out, before the class prizes were presented by Garry Hendry of Enquest, one of the sponsors.
Lying first in the Viking Race was Will, followed by Zombrero 2 in second place.
The winner in the class one (double-handed) category was Amante, while Skarven, Kelso, Kilroy and Mixer took positions one to four in class two.
First in class three was Promineo Racing, followed by last year’s blue ribbon winner Winocean and Levens in third place, while class four saw Furia III, Serenity and Blue Dawn in the first three positions respectively.
Lerwick Port Authority chairman Ronnie Gair presented Mr Offerdal and Mr Børresen from the Rubber Duck with the port authority prize for being first over the line in Lerwick.
The best-placed newcomer was Furia III while Amante won the overall handicap prize and Jaerbuen picked up the wooden spoon for taking longest to make the crossing.
The Lerwick Race yachts are due to leave on the return leg at 4pm on Saturday while the Viking Race competitors are scheduled to head north at 11am on Sunday.