As much as I love the sun and heat, the primary thing I want when sailing is wind… It doesn’t have to be much wind, but at least enough to allow for a steady pace. This years Bohusracet was to a large extent a windless game.
The race is a 160 NM long shorthanded race up and down the westcoast of Sweden, through some of the most beatiful areas we have to offer. This year the rounding in Norway had been replaced by a rounding close to Koster for Covid-19 reasons, which would make the course 11 NM shorter.
Our start was at 14:00 and we left the harbour an hour earlier to try and get an idea of which side of the fjord that would be favoured. The wind was pretty much non existant. Luckily enough there was a few knots of wind right at the start, just enough to get us moving and make it possible to manouver the boat. Unfortunately I made one of my trademark horrible starts, we got stuck below a bunch of other boats and couldn’t tack in the direction we wanted to head and ended up in a totaly windless spot. Completely my fault. In hindsight it would have been better to be late over the starting line but in the position we wanted.
The trip down to Tjörnbroarna (the bridge between mainland and Tjörn) was rather uneventfull, most of the time there was some wind and we only got stuck in a windless hole once (but laid still there for roughly 10 minutes watching other boats passing by just 100 meters from us). We really nailed the passage under Tjörnbroarna with active and correct decisions, and gained a bunch of places there.
Just a few hundred meters after Tjörnbroarna the wind died completely, the following 5 NM took 9 hours to complete and many boats abandoned the race at this point. Before the race the organizers said that they would not shorten the course and they would not extend the deadline for crossing the finish line. At ten in the evening we dowloaded the new grib files and realized there was no way in hell that we’d be able to finish the race in time and we briefly discussed abandoning, but quickly concluded that we had no other plans anyway so we might just as well enjoy the scenery and do the best of the situation 🙂
In the middle of the night there came an SMS from the organizers that they hade decided to shorten the course and it was now very likely that we’d be able to complete the course in time, awesome! I felt sorry for the participants that had already abandoned the race, and it would have been good if the organizers had made the decision a few hours earlier, but late is better than never and we were happy as kids on Christmas Eve!
In the early morning hours we got a bit of wind again and managed to get the asymetric to fill, although just barely. On the way out to Hätteberget we managed to pass a number of boats through very active route decisions, plenty of gybes to make sure we stayed in wind at all times. Once past Hätteberget it was reaching with the Code0 and life was good… for a while… until the wind completely died AGAIN just before Måseskär. Frustration was high but not much to do about it. At least the current was pushing us in the right direction.
After roughly two hours the wind filled again, not much but enough to give us a steady pace all the way to Fjällbacka. The passage into Fjällbacka is always a bit nervous as you have to go through a super narrow straight (roughly 13 meters wide at the most narrow place) and you really don’t want to be two boats next to to each other in that place. I keep my fingers crossed that the organizers eventually will change the course so this passage could be avoided. It should be mentioned that it is possible to avoid it also with the current course, but it will cost you quite a bit of time and you’ll probably have no chance of winning if you do so.
Once the rounding at Fjällbacka was completed it was time to head south to the finish line in Smögen. And the the wind… died… again!!! The forecast said that the wind would come in a few hours so it wasn’t too frustrating, but we (and all other participants) had experienced more than a fair share of calms, for sure more calms than any person ever should have to experience during a race :-/
After an hour or two the wind slowly picked up again, ranging from 1 – 3 knots. Just enough to get a fraction of speed and we worked hard to get moving in the right direction. At the horizon, over Smögen, we saw a big thundercloud that was moving in our direction. In just a few minutes the wind went from 2 knots to 20 knots gusting 25. We didn’t mind the rain, we didn’t mind the thunder that was over land, we were just super happy to finally have some proper wind!
Unfortunately the wind was on the nose. For a few minutes I contemplated the idea to turn around just to do a short downwind run for the fun of it, after all I’ve now done about 1 300 NM in the boat without a proper downwind run… but in the end the racing instinct said “for fucks sake – just finish the race!” so we pressed on and crossed the finish line 32.5 hours after we started.
In our class 21 boats started, 9 abandoned, and we finished in 11th place. We’d have to be 24,2% faster to win the class… If we had been 2,2% faster we would have ended up in 7th place instead, that is definately within reach.
How much did I miss my First / Seascape 24? Very much!!! It would have been an absolutely lethal weapon in these conditions.
All in all Bohusracet is a great race that I highly recommend everyone to try. It is a proper regatta but with a friendly atmosphere. Will be back next year!
What we did well
+ The passage under Tjörnbron. Super active decisions led to great gains
+ Very active decisions when sailing to Hätteberget, gained plenty of boats there
+ When there was wind we hit the polar targets or better
+ We had a great spirit the entire race despite the frustrating conditions
What could or needs to be improved
– Starting. I really need to practice starts…
– Better understanding of when to be close to land and when to be far from land in these kind of conditions
– How to get speed in less than 3 knots of wind
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