The second day of the Archipelago Raid begun today with a dismasting, near sinking and broken boats. But overall the competition is hotting up as the wind, and landscape, gives competitors an action packed second day on the water.
The 2007 Archipelago Raid begun on Monday from Björnö, Sweden in the unique and spectacular Scandinavian Archipelago. More than 58 world-class competitors (29 teams) are preparing for this extraordinary quest through beauty on F18 open catamarans.
The Raid pushes teams to the edge both mentally and physically as they navigate round the 100,000 islands that make up the Swedish, Aland and Finnish Archipelagos. The teams battle through uncharted rocks and changing weather conditions for five days stopping only for a brief 'overnight' rest when the sun goes down in a region which sees very little night time in the high summer.
Despite two general recalls at the beginning of day two, the fleet finally left in the early hours of this morning heading south to Huvudskar before turning north again towards Sandhamn. As the sun came up and the wind filled in it was the Nissan teams that took an early lead at checkpoint one - all three of the leading places were Nissan boats, the French led from the Germans and then the Swedish. .
At checkpoint two the three Nissan teams were still leading but by the one hour checkpoint, on the picturesque island of Sandhamn where they say the sea meets the horizon, the leaderboard was changing. Whilst the French Nissan team still led, it was the F18 European Champions on the Dutch Yamaha Red team that came in second and Team Catella (SWE) in third. .
But the stories from this first day of real action were not of the front-runners but those that had experienced exactly what the Archipelago Raid is famous for - the extreme and unique waters of the region. It was before the working day had even begun that White Knuckles Express hit a submerged log and started taking on water. By 09.30 the team and the boat were safe but for the Swedish crew of Fredrik KARLSSEN and Magnus GROTH it was seemingly the end of their 2007 Archipelago Raid. However in the spirit of the Raid and the desire to finish the event they have since found another boat and plan to re-join the fleet in Fejan this evening. Voltaren, another Swedish crew dismasted at 10:45 this morning, are also fighting to remain in this extreme endurance event and are currently fixing the rigging issue that caused the mast to come down and are planning on sailing to Fejan this afternoon. .
As the remaining teams arrived at the Sandhamn checkpoint the stories were of damaged boats but of a great mornings sailing. Ryan CRAWFORD from Team Blue Ocean (GBR) described what happened to them: 'We were sailing along in an area where we were not too worried about rocks, about 500 yards from each shore, when suddenly we heard a big split and half of the daggerboard floating away behind us - it had just been cut clean away under the boat. We had hit the same object as the White Knuckles team but they had come off a lot worse than us…'
Fredrick KARLSSON (SWE) from White Knuckles Express commented: 'We have everything in place now for the boat, we have been lent Magnus WOXEN's [(SWE)] boat [who was the 2006 Archipelago Raid winner] and we will now tow it to Fejan. The one thing we don't have organised is that we only have one daggerboard so we are working on finding another one right now but we plan to re-join the fleet this evening.'
Fredrik EKMAN (SWE) commented on the leg into Sandamn: 'It was a tight reach for us into here and we had a few problems keeping the bearing which meant sailing deep with the gennaker up. We are now looking at a bit of a paddle on the next leg through a narrow channel at the next checkpoint but we have a bit of practise with the paddling now as we paddled into the finish last night and despite hitting the bottom we still managed to win!!'
Team BEP Marine (NZL) who had a tough morning commented: 'We blew out the gennekar just after the start and lost the halyard so we stopped when we could to get the halyard back which meant we lost a lot of time to the others. But we came here for this, it is fantastic conditions and great sailing - we are hanging in there.'
The teams will navigate a number of further scheckpoints throughout the day and tonight will finish on the island of Fejan in the Northern end of the Swedish Archipelago having sailed around 80 nautical miles today.