The Archipelago Raid 2009 finished on Saturday with Swedish team Thule of Martin Strandberg and Johan Örtendahl as winners.
Martin Strandberg and Johan Örtendahl made an extraordinary final effort to claim first prize. They won every leg in the last two days of the Raid and caught up with their toughest rivals - Citus, the French pair of Eric Proust and Romain Motteau, who won the event last year. Third was Audio Network, the British duo of William Sunnucks and Simon Farren, whose chance of victory slipped away yesterday after striking rocks.
Strandberg and Örtendahl scored 258 points, five more than their French rivals, and won five legs out of 10, missing out on the podium places on only two occasions.
Thule was really determined to catch up with Citus today. The French team was three points ahead in the overall standings this morning, and could have been the first crew to win two Raids in a row. But Thule wanted the trophy back for a Swedish team, and they won both legs of the day as they did yesterday, only being second in the first Checkpoint.
"It was fantastic, a really tough race. Eric (Proust, Citus) was sailing so well so we had to put 200 per cent to beat him.", and ecstatic Strandberg commented at the finish at the At Sea complex in Lidingö island. "For me the toughest moment mentally was when we crossed to Aland. We made such a big mistake and we went to the Checkpoint that was cancelled and we lost a lot of positions. I thought it was over, because Eric was sailing so well so losing 8 points there was tough, really tough." But then they had two perfect days. "You can't finish better than this. I think is just an ultimate sailing race. You've got everything: nature, sailing, navigation, tactics… everything.", the Swedish skipper concluded.
Team Thule wasn't the only happy team today. Among the teams who enjoyed the event most were Team Cobalt, made up of Britons Luke Yeats and Matthew Humphreys, who finished the best as the best rookies and eighth overall. "This has been probably the best organized event I've ever sailed at. We had all the organization boats with us all the time and getting all the tents and food arranged in the middle of nowhere and having almost thirty boats through a very complicated course…it was really worth the tough moments." They, and the Archipelago Raid, will return next year.
Check the interviews with the sailors at the Pictures/Video section on www.archipelagoraid.com