“Salt” took part in the North Sea Yacht Race, commonly called the Banff race in Stavanger, summer of 2006. We did well, even though we didn’t win. We were beaten by 3 much larger yachts, which is a consolation.
It started out as badly as any adventure can start. Wednesday the week before the race, it is a one-way race and this summer it started in Scotland, we sailed out of Stavanger bound for McDuff, Scotland. As I was crossing the North Sea by aeroplane the day before, I could see the big seas and large ships rolling heavily. It was even worse than feared. A hard northerly had wipped the ocean for a week and seas was huge. As soon as we passed Kvitsøy a heavy rolling started, tight sheets, with a cold gail down our neck and sheets of rain down the hatch.
As Kvitsøy dissapeared my 1.mate and “comrade in arms on hazardous adventours”, Odd, and I said in harmony -On a range from one to ten, how stupid are we to do this? The crew of four completely agreed on nine. If any of us had suggested 10 on the scale, I guess he would have been give a full house of votes.
However, it was to late to turn around. What do you tell your friends after announcing for weeks that you are going to participate in an ocean race, and then quit the very first night? That would surly have put the Salt-crew on the mark 10 for chickens. Besides, it would have been an eight-hour run to Eigersund for shelter. To turn and crash home towards a northerly gale would have been even worse. So, Scotland next.
After we had fed the crabs, fed our selves and some of us given a fair share of sleep – it turned out OK. Fine sailing and the Scottish coast turned up ever so beautiful in sunshine 40 hours later. In no wind at all, and only diesel fumes left in the tank – we motored the last few miles to McDuff. The race is named from the village of Banff, but the harbour has been out of commission for years, so the yachts assemble in McDuff – a mere 20 minutes walking from Banff. The harbour is a hot spot for commercial fishing, but the scotts are incredibly friendly and makes a lot of fuzz for us yachties, even though they could use the entire port for their fishboats.
Not as planned
The race started badly. The wind left us just as we were crossing the starting line. We barely crept over the line, while boats just a few meters ahead got a miraculous little breeze pushing them along. “Salt” – you can say a lot of good things about “Salt”, but she needs wind to move – was left behind with her fuming skipper. The rest of the crew was flabbergasted of how frustrated I can get when my carefully planned starts totally flopps.
Soon I worked in what I lost. A steady North-Westerly made “Salt” pick up her speed. With eased Genoa 1 and a flattened main we just cruised along doing the best we could. The angel towards the wind was to steep to set the spinnaker, and the weather-forecast promised more westerly and more wind. So it was just steady going on layline towards the one and only buoy and turning-point – an oilplattform in the middle of the ocean.
40 foot challenge
A large yacht disappeared in front of us along with “Lovinda” 39 during the first night and some smaller competitors was coming up from behind. A Dehler 40 tried to set her spinnaker, but did not make any progress.
“Salt” was heavy on the tiller, and I should have reefed the main and eased the Genoa accordingly. Even though that would have been all the trim she needed, it was never done. Which is why we missed a few seconds to become third of all the racers. A few seconds missed on a 280 mile long oceanrace is stupid. But we became second in our class LYS 4 and 5. Which is more than ok. We did well, and all in all it was fun.
On a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is most unlikely, do you think I plan to participate in next years North Sea Yacht Race?
10? Nope. Sure, I have forgotten the cold and the fatigue – so I am planning to participate in the new two-hand class. I mean, how stupid can I get? I already acknowledged that I probably would end up around 9 or 10 on the scale. However, it is a challenge to find someone hardheaded enough to come along.
007 From Norway
Summer of 2007 the race will start in Skudeneshavn – a couple of hours north of Stavanger. A quaint, small fishing village, well suited for a weekend of beer drinking and bragging about last year race – before the the real thing starts. McDuff or Banff are both good starting points towards a cruise further North to the Orkneys and Shetlands, or trough the Caledonian Canal towards the Hebrides or Ireland.
If I really decide to go – and not only do armchair sailing – but actually do it again, this tim short crewed and double-handed, I will have to make some changes. First of all I need a windpilot to keep the boat going. So far I have not experienced any electric autopilot which can handle the North Sea or “Salt” on a powerreach particularly in the North Sea sort of waves.
Secondly I need a heavy Genoa 2.
Third – I need money to pay for it all.
If I can’t come up with the courage and the money to pay for new stuff – this plan smells like another armchair adventure.