Rounding Gotland on tip-toes

ÅF Offshore: a packed Stockholm harbour for a start. FC: Simone Rickert

This year's ÅF Offshore Race took its toll from tacticians and navigators: dominanted by a series of dead calms, the 290 participating yachts were in a a tough competition to catch the slightest bit of a breeze. Light boats were able to make the most of the situation: it was the smallest in the fleet who took the overall victory - young Swedish Team Räknäs won the SRS class on a 7,02 meter-long mini-tonner. La Dolce Vita, a Finngulf 33 with a tight crew used to winning the ÅF, was first in ORC.

Fastest yacht of the fleet was the German Ker 51 Varuna. But the actual winner of the Big Boat Class after time correction was the 46-foot Ker Shakti - again, a comparatively small boat among the really big ones, including the Super Maxi 100 Hyundai.

A mentally challenging race: With enough wind at the beginning to make it before nightfall from the spectacular starting area in the centre of Stockholm through the beautiful Skärgården to the open water. There the game of going and stopping anti-clockwise around the big island started with many yachts deciding to seek their luck (wind) far to the west of Gotland. But staying close to the course payed off, because with the next mark near Visby came an increase in windspeed. The classic yachts had their finish in Gotland's beautiful harbour-city, but everyone else had to keep going south. Breezes dropped again - we counted five dead calms all over - and so the crews went back to tiptoe-mode: forward and backward on the leaderboard, and walking on the softest of their soles so as not to disrupt the tiny bits of forward movement.

The ETAs tending towards Wednesday and Thursday, some of the crews seriously worried about being late for the scheduled prizegiving ceremony and the legendary regatta dinner in Sandham's yacht club. But no need, you can always count on the formidable race management by the KSSS. They just doubled the festivity: prizegiving for the classics and party on Wednesday, more trophies plus more dancing on Thursday and well into Friday's sunrise.