Wednesday, July 2, 2014

J/111 BLUR Crushes Faerder Race

J/111 BLUR sailing off Norway(Oslo, Norway)- What is billed as “the world’s largest overnight race”, the Faerder Race saw an amazing performance from one of the top J/111s in Scandinavia.  With a total of over 700 boats participating, the two J/111s sailed in the R40 Class, a hyper-competitive 40 ft racing class with four Xp-38s, three Arcona 410s, a couple of First 40s and a number of other fast boats. In total, 41 of Norway’s and Sweden’s most competitive 40-footers were on the line.  Here’s the report from Peter Gustafsson, sailing on the J/111 BLUR:

“Some races are more special than others and attract sailors from far away. It may be for historic reasons, for great parties or the number of boats on the starting line.  The Færder Race has all of those components, and that’s why we keep coming back each year, despite having to endure a 400nm delivery back and fourth from Sweden.

All 700+ boats in many different classes, racing a number of different courses, start in the middle of Oslo and finish in Horten in the middle of the Oslo Fjord.  The bigger boats races 85nm to Tristein, just outside of the iconic Færder Lighthouse, and the race usually provide everything from calm in the narrow Drøbak straits to offshore conditions out by the lighthouse. And everything in between.

The two J/111s, BLUR and DACAPO, were excited about the weather forecast.  It pointed to a northerly 10-12 kts, possibly 14-16 kts in the evening, so it would be a fast race. Our routing indicated a finish around midnight and 0100 hrs Saturday morning.

Friday morning greeted us with a grey sky and a few drops of rain. The winds were pretty much as forecasted, but as usual, very puffy inside Oslo’s bay.

J/111 sailing Faerder Race off Oslo, NorwayThe tricky part was to choose between A5 or the big A2 Whomper, as the wind went back and forth 30 degrees. We made a late call for the A5 and got a nice hole 20% down from the northern mark where there were a lot of boats including the J/111 Dacapo. To leeward we had both Bavaria 42 Match Ille Moro (winner of many regattas in Norway) as well as Arcona 410 DAD Sportsware with UK sailmaker Anders Nordström. The race was on.

After the first few puffs, we were slightly ahead of the fleet, peeled to the A2 Whomper, and went for TWA 150, which tends to be the fastest angle in a blow. I was a bit worried at the start that we would be under-powered, but I didn’t have to worry. There was plenty of power. We struggled as the wind shifted 20 degrees back and we had to go back and forth between soaking and planing modes. Every time there was a big puff we extended on the fleet.

The wind increased all the way down the fjord as we passed through the shorthanded fleet that started 10 minutes ahead. Most of them had blown out their spinnakers and where sailing with white sails. We picked a lighter spot for the gybe, and hit the mark at the perfect angle. The last stretch was amazing with 15 kts average boat speed and a 19 kts peak when we passed a capsized F18 catamaran. WOW! The first leg took just under an hour and we were way, way ahead already.

We choose to go to J2 and then re-set the A5 for a fast reach down to Drøbak where we peeled back to the A2. We had some troubles since two of our spinnaker sheets were chafed during the first leg, so there was some quick maintenance needed. Dacapo choose a more westerly routed and caught up a little before we got in to the groove again.

Towards Filtvet it was straight forward. The current was with us, so we tried to stay middle or west where there was more pressure. A decent leg where we managed to keep the distance.

J/111 BLUR crewWe changed helmsman & trimmers to get some rest after an intense first part. Pelle and Magnus worked hard to stay in the current and also work the shifts. We had TWD ranging from 000 to 030, and managed to get the most of it while staying to the west of the fleet. We had some luck with the shifts getting around Fulehuk at the east end of Bolærne.

Then it got very light, but we sailed conservatively on rhumbline working the puffs that came along. We caught up with three of the X-41s, the King 40 Magic and a ILC-40. All of them started 20 minutes ahead. And now we couldn’t see the boats in our class, except for Dacapo with the red gennaker.

Rounding Tristein the forecast was for 14-20 kts of wind. However, it was already evening and very light, so we didn’t trust the forecast.  We started out with J1 but soon we had 12 kts of wind and had to go to #2. Initially, we managed to match the King 40 and the X-41s, but as the wind picked up we lost them.

We stayed west and went through Bolærerna, pretty much the same way as everyone else. We tried to stay out of the current and the choppy sea.

Suddenly we had 20 knots and went to J3.5 just before it got dark (as dark as it gets in Scandinavia this time of year- you can still wear sunglasses!). Pretty tough sailing, but we managed to sail to the polars. But, we knew that the bigger boats were catching up fast in those conditions.

At the buoy in Åsgårdsstrand we met the boats from the shorter courses. Lot’s of Express and similar boats who got into a lot of trouble after rounding for the last upwind.  We had an Express dropping the rig just to leeward, several boats had torn sails, some went head-to-wind with engine and sails just flogging. It was chaos and carnage. But under a full moon it was kind of spectacular.

We worked hard all the way to finish and crossed the line just after 00:30. We knew we had sailed a great race, but not really sure how much the bigger boats had gained during the lass hours of upwind slog.  In the end, our J/111 BLUR won with a corrected time of 12:13:52.  Our J/111 colleagues on DACAPO, skippered by Jorgen Heje, took 8th in class 15:33 back on handicap.  A great showing overall for the J/111s!”

For some fun viewing, watch this YouTube sailing video of the J/111 BLUR experience- great footage.

For more Scandinavian sailing information on the Faerder Race and others, contact Peter Gustafsson at ph# +46 733 304000 or at email-  Check out the website-