The Midnight Sun Raid was every bit as cool as we thought it would be and then some. From the weather to our race committee and our fellow sailors, everything ran super smoothly.
Our team was one of the least experienced in the fleet and our expectations results wise were to finish every leg without breaking our boat or ourselves. To our surprise, we could seriously compete for positions during the weekend and only the navigation of yours trully got in the way of finishing higher up the rankings.
Friday started as the weather forecasts predicted, hot but slow. No real wind could be detected so we decided to tow the fleet out to more favorable waters. Soon enough we could see the tell tale signs of gusts on the water's surface and it was time to set up the startline for the first leg.
In a two person boat it is crucial that both sailors know what their roles and responsibilities are. Our system works by the crew, being me, navigating and making strategic calls while the skipper focuses on steering the boat and manoveurs. Formula 18 boats are notorious for being very difficult to steer fast as they are extremely reactive. It is therefore a prerequesite for speed that the skipper be allowed to concentrate fully on the task.
Friday was spent mostly finding our groove and proper trim for light weather. We were able to compete with a few boats, but the front of the fleet got away. The after race sauna, located in our basecamp on Pensar island, proved very helpful as we were told to change our mast rake to gain more pointing ability, the ability to sail higher into the wind.
With the trim changes made, Saturday was much closer racing for us. Unfortunately we made a crucial navigational error in choosing the southern way around the island of Sandö dropping us from third place to eighth. This stung for a little while, but we soon got over it and enjoyed the beauty that is the northern bay of Sandö.
The second leg of the day was not our best work. We were missing some boat speed and did not know why. We ended up finishing last on the leg, but were ready to go for leg number three.
The final leg of the day is where the action started. Winds picked up substatially and as we were heading back to our basecamp on Pensar island, the wind direction meant we could pull out the gennakers, the largest sails on the boat. By largest, I also mean the most overpowered. As you can see from the picture, the mast is actually bending due to the force applied by the gennaker. Partially due to our mistake of not tightening the mast diamond wires! While using a gennaker the boat flies with one hull in the water only, but also in larger gusts can either heel too much and capsize, what ended up happening to FIN-11, or dive both hulls into the water and fall over head first. This is what is called a pitchpole and should be avoided as it is quite a violent ordeal. While under sail with a gennaker, the Formula 18 is both a magical creature and a beast. It will throw you off if you are not careful. Half way though this rodeo leg we made the mistake of sailing too close to an island and got caught in the completely windless zone next to the shore. It took us over 5 minutes to get out, meaning we were left to compete for last place again. Still a great day to be out on the water!
Once Sunday morning came around, the wind had died again and we were in for a boat speed race in light conditions back to TPS. The experience we had gained during the weekend proved useful and after several good battles with other boats, we crossed the finnish line of the final leg in fourth position. Our best result so far and we were absolutely thrilled! Overall we placed 8/9 meaning there is still much room for improvement.
This event is the perfect example of the sort of adventures out there waiting to be had. It is just up to each individual to decide whether to seek them out or not. My answer is always yes.
Pictures by Hartas Production