(Oslo, Norway)- What happens when you get 900 boats and a challenging course out through the Oslo Fjord? Then, mix in a shifty, streaky, puffy breeze meandering down the fjords? A pretty slow race with TWS mostly around 2-6 knots! But, for the J/111 BLUE sailed by Peter Gustafsson and crew from Sweden, it simply meant a great opportunity knocking on the door to demonstrate to fellow Scandinavian offshore sailors what it’s like to race the fun, fast J/111 speedster in demanding conditions. As Peter described, “In 900+ boats, we were 15th fastest boat in some great company! Being 13 minutes slower than a GP42 and beating a Brenta 42, X-50, Dehler 41 and First 40 on the water after 20 hours isn’t bad! :D
Friday offered brilliant sunshine and 2-3 m/s from SW. We had plenty of time and had a good track on everything. 1.5 hours before departure, we went out so that everyone got acquainted with our new Code 0. We had had it up on Thursday on the way up, but it was important that everyone had a look at how it set as we’d be using it a lot this race!
Easy start where we were too early to windward. After being sailing 10-12 perfect starts in Marstrand last weekend, it was like all the skills were gone! After a while (seemed like an eternity) we were able to sail our race and get down to the islands to the left. Several had had good pressure there, and I think it worked for us too. Teknova and 4-5 other fast boats chose this route for the same reason.
Easy check down past Dyna Lighthouse where we continued on the left. Stretch to Nesoddtangen Buoy where we got into a good groove with a little wind in the middle of the track.
We had a good track and were able to deploy our Code 0 just after the rounding. We passed a First 40.7 with double the speed, it was quite hilarious. Here, we also passed a number of boats, including the King 40 “Magic” and a Class 40, both boats were not shifting gears at the same rate as us. Plenty of wind came in. Then it was back to the jib … and now we were in the game again. Just JV41R, Teknova and Karukera ahead of us, but lots of good boats just behind.
After a while, we were able to again use the Code 0 and step on the gas past the JV41R Karukera before the bottom at Slemmestad. Here we were caught up and passed another JV41R and a Landmark 43! But what good was it when Teknova worked hard with puffs on the right wing to the south. Incredibly difficult sailing some time before it filled in from the east.
This year we had an OK push through all the difficult straits. Frederick and Pelle on-board our boat were working hard. We started to the left to avoid the reverse current, then went down the Hallangstangen and towards Drbak. Good fight with an X-41 that we finally hit but most of all we got in lots of distance on Teknova. I do not think we have passed the Straits in the best way ever, and the only thing that was better was a Landmark 43 and an X-50 that snuck inside the Oscar Borg and the Castle, but it felt like a high-risk maneuver.
Easy to check the south where we and Teknova continued fight on the right side. We had a little better speed, but especially picked some great shifts and we were gone. Incredibly nice. And good to have a good boat to run against.
After Filtvet, the wind increased and turned on the South so we switched to medium / heavy-jib. We wanted the left, but a little sloppy with shifts in the exchange so Teknova ran up again, but we kept them on pace. It eased back to 2-3 m/s, so switching back to ease the jib. Now, we significantly improved and was able to snatch back some distance. Then we picked a couple of good shifts and we were gone. Outside Gullholmen was X-50 and a few other boats parked in the doldrums, so we were a bit worried for a restart. But finally the wind filled in from the East to make it sailable again.
As the wind would eventually turn to the south, the choice was to go high and go slow but in the middle or to throttle-up and hope for a big shift in the wind towards the Foerder shore. Counter-current was the deciding factor, so we set the Code 0 again and flew down the inner part of Bolrerna. At more than 5 knots boat speed, all crew on the rail in only a light 2 m/s wind is quite fun! It was exciting as we passed lantern after lantern during the night’s darkest hours. It was hard to know what it was that we were passing so fast, so we all looked forward with great anticipation for morning light to find out what happened!
Just before Bolrerna the wind shifted. Hoisted the medium / heavy jib and furled the Code 0. Now we were definitely ahead of those that run on the outside of Bolrerna, but we were still nervous that we were the only boat on the right (except for two small boats). At Smkryssande we finally met boats coming from the left. GP42 Al Capone, Brenta 42, JV41R and X-50 Jokerman. Wow! All had been well ahead at Gullholmen!!
The wind increased gradually and it was a tough final leg out to Tristein. Around Tristein up with A2. Fantastic sailing homewards with 10-12 knots and spinnaker fly fast. But not enough wind for the J/111 to go really fast. We had a fun time sailing her. J/111 is truly an amazing boat to race offshore!” For more J/111 BLUR sailing information