Monday, September 29, 2014

J/111 BLUR Wins Silver Rudder Challenge

J/111 skipper- Peter Gustafsson(Copenhagen, Denmark)- The Silver Rudder Challenge of the Sea- is an annual single-handed regatta, that took place on the 19th of September in Svendborg on the island of Funen (Fyn), Denmark.  It has become the world’s biggest single-handed offshore race, with almost 200 boats participating in the 134nm race around Funen Island.  Like similar races in America (e.g. think Three Bridge Fiasco in San Francisco Bay), you get to choose which way you get around the island, its rocks, its islets and channels!  A challenge for even the best navigators, much less trying to do it all by yourself!

J/111 blur silver rudder challenge courseIn 2012, the race was launched and attracted 15 tough contestants. In 2013, 100 contestants signed up, among them sailors from Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Denmark. Silver Rudder 2013 was the biggest international offshore singlehanded regatta in world for that year.  In the end of May 2014, nearly 170 were enlisted for the 2014 edition, which meant this year’s Silver Rudder Challenge would be the largest non-stop singlehanded offshore race ever.  By August, the entrants reached the maximum of 200 participants!

As the number of contestants increased, the competition was also getting tougher. But the challenge was still the same- 134nm around Funen – only you and your boat and your way to choose to go around!

So, who won this epic challenge?  None other than Peter Gustafsson on the J/111  Peter not only recorded the fastest circumnavigation yet for the Large Keelboat Class, but he eclipsed all other keelboats and was only beaten boat-for-boat by a powerful trimaran!

The early weather forecasts indicated there would be a period of high pressure and easterly winds. If this weather pattern stayed put, the race would most likely be sailed for the first time ever leaving Funen Island to starboard and going “clockwise” around, instead of the traditional strategy of “leave it to port” counter-clockwise. The reason is that the sailors will try to avoid upwind sailing during the starts and in the most narrow and tricky part of the Sound of Svendborg.

Silver rudder challenge trophyOut of seven classes, there were only three Danish winners in this year's regatta. In the Large Keelboat Class (35-40 ft), it was Peter Gustafsson’s J/11 BLUR.SE that took overall winners with a time of 29:11:05, to win by well over 55 minutes over his next closest competitor. Gustafsson is known among many Scandinavian sailors for his website with the same name as his boat, but not many people were aware of how good he sailor he is!!  He led the race from the Great Belt Bridge to out of Langeland, in which the front flerskrogbåd was passed by.  Then with only 0.5 miles to the finish line, Gustafsson managed to overtake Andraz Mehilin in Svendborgsund where both skippers had frequent sail changes. A spinnaker sock made the difference when it jammed a headsail change for Mehilin on his IMX 40. The old truth that one can sail a small boat closer to 100% singlehanded over a larger boat turned out to be true. Despite the extremely difficult conditions and long periods without wind, Gustafsson’s BLUR.SE managed to outdo William Friis-Møller's IMX-40 elapsed record time of 2012; that resulted in a shift of Silver Rudder Challenge Trophy from Denmark to Sweden.  Plus, BLUR.SE was also the fastest overall keelboat in the Silver Rudder Challenge 2014!!

As Gustafsson explained, “For me it was 29 hours of hard work - but I won the class and was the fastest monohull around the course!!  BLUR.SE also set the new record for Keelboat Large Class, beating the old time of 31:28:55 set by an IMX 40 with the new time of 29:11:05!

This year we’ve won the biggest races in three different categories with our J/111 BLUR.SE (fully crewed, double-handed and solo) in three different countries- Norway, Sweden and Denmark.  I LOVE this boat!!”

Behind Peter G, in the Keelboat Small division, the J/80 CLEAN eMARINE took 5th in class.  Plus, in the Keelboat Medium class, the J/105 JAVELIN took 4th in class.  A great showing by J/Teams in tough, mentally-taxing conditions!  Yet again, a demonstration of why J/Teams are always so successful offshore against other brands & designs— J’s are simply easier to sail, faster, nearly 100% of the time, while their competitors struggle to even keep sailing their boats in a straight course!   See the Silver Rudder Challenge Facebook page here.   For more Silver Rudder Challenge sailing information