Sean took 1st place overall at the Norwegian FW Championships in Larvik, Norway this weekend. A strong fleet of 30 of the top Norwegian formula sailors completed the 10 blistering races in winds exceeding 30-35 knots. Read a short report from Sean about the event below as well as results on Norwegian boardsailing website.
This weekend we had the Norwegian FW Championships in Larvik, Norway; my first trip to this country. After some tough conditions racing at the Nordic Championships in Denmark (where many Norwegians competed) last weekend, we took a few days to relax and do some sightseeing, catching up with some friends in Moss, Drøbak and Oslo as well as visiting Gotheberg, Sweden on the drive up to Norway.
On Friday afternoon we arrived in Larvik to meet up with our Norwegian friends and get out on the water after a day wandering around and getting lost in Oslo (ps, can now “officially” confirm this is THE most expensive city in the World!). We were greeted with rain, mist and 25 knots of breeze with temperatures around 15 degrees, which to me is pretty much the 3rd IceAge so we decided we’d take a break from sailing and wait till the sun came out the next day! (we are pussies, granted).
On Saturday morning, 30 Norwegians, myself and James Briggs (GBR-848) signed up to race with the impending forecast for winds to be 25-35 knots all weekend!
The race committee decided to err on the side of safety this weekend as on the open ocean there were 3m swells breaking in to sheer cliff-faces which would’ve meant if you fell off close to the wall you would certainly die a horrific death, so they set the course on the inside of the fjord. A short course of about 600m upwind with the fjord only being around 250m wide which meant lots of tacks and gybes to get upwind and downwind between the steep cliffs of the fjord – exciting racing!
The plan was to do 6 races today (the races were short, around 10-12 mins for the leaders) in winds of 28-35 knots! I won the first two races closely followed by the strong Norwegian fleet. In Race 3 I opted to try out a more ‘medium wind’ fin which turned out to be a disaster as the winds cranked to a solid 30-35 knots this race and I put it in the drink so many times despite somehow coming back to 2nd. In Race 4 I stuck with that fin and managed to break not one, but two footstraps off after a horrendous crash and decided to retire from the race … haha.
New footstraps and back to my trusty ‘super high wind’ 70cm VMG and we were back on the course after a delay of 30 mins while the wind was well over 18 m/s (36 knots!). I managed to win these one of these races but had 3 crashes in the final race to get a 3rd behind the top Norwegians who only managed to crash twice!
After 6 races I was in the lead by 2 points with plenty of wind forecasted for Sunday also. We had a fantastic BBQ grill with all the meats in the well furnished Larvik clubhouse and had an opportunity to meet most of the Norwegian sailors.
Included in the 30 or so in the fleet were many younger sailors, boys and girls, most of which sailing the Formula Experience class (which we don’t have back in AUS). What I was super impressed with is the fact that all of these kids got out there and started every single race, even with winds well over 30 knots and a difficult course to sail; some of the girls were as young as 16 – full commitment! I’ve seen many older guys sit out races in much less winds … hehe.
Sunday morning the winds dropped down to a more manageable 25 knots. We raced again with most of the Top 5 on 10m sails and the rest on anything from 7.2 – 8.5m! After a race was abandoned when the
wind dropped at the bottom mark we nailed 2 races which I won which included 3 laps of the course; giving everyone more opportunity to make up some places (when the people in front were crashing, usually!). A short lunchbreak and we were back out for 2 more races to end the event.
I put it in the drink once again in this race and allowed NOR-0 to shoot past me but got my sh*t together in the final race to win and take the overall event.
All in all, the event was run very smoothly with the race committee listening to the suggestions of the sailors and making quick adjustments to the course where necessary. With insanely strong winds, racing on an narrow fjord with sheer rock cliffs on either side and difficult shifty winds between the islands, I think it would’ve been VERY difficult to organise any races, let alone nailing 10 races in 2 day! Congratulations Norway.
Always being a fan of coming to smaller events and seeing new countries, meeting new people, rather than just doing the Pro Tour events, I really enjoyed my short stay in Norway and the racing we did with such an enthusiastic, positive National fleet. Thanks once again to the guys involved with organising the event and to Svein Rudihaugen for looking after us and the beers ;)
I hope I can make it back to Norway again sometime and see more of this beautiful country.