The start went super and we were in the very front of the pack of 36 Express boats. We started out a bit up the line from the start boat that always is on the unusual left side in the færdern. The wind was almost from behind so we started on starboard tack, threw up the spin in a hurry after the shot and jibed after a short while. We went to the left side to get free wind but not too much, though we sailed on the very edge of the field in periods. We where very pleased that we sailed together with and often in front of the favorites.
The wind was nice but died out at the first bouy at Slemmestad. After that it was hours with very slow progress towards the complicated Drøbak sound where the chess game would surely separate the best form the good. Entering the sound we were still in the front group and we were very proud og having sailed for 10 hours as fast as the best. This should be a proof that there is nothing wrong with the boat!
Entering the sound we did our first mistake. Our friends from the club, IMPULS who are amongst the top guys in the fjord finally cought up with us and passed us. instead of staying with them we sailed into the sound. They did the clever move to sail very close to the east shore of the Kaholmen island. We soon realised our big blunder when the current increased and we lost all our progress while a small group of express boats slowly made their way up along the shore. When we finally managed to make our way back to the islands north tip they were far ahead.
We sailed super close to the shore of the island, only a few meters clear. We realised that the current here, a back-evy or what you call it, helped us in the right direction. There was a vortex in the current here that turned the current around. But the progress was brutally stopped at a small point were the island hard rock was streching out into the sound. There was no way to pass it, so we anchored. Soon other victims of the current gathered here. It was a strange sight to see all the big yachts coming backwards into the sound the wrong way.
We cooked dinner (Cock au vin!) made by Mathis who is a master cook. When we were finished the current had decreased and we saw boats slowly progressing in the right direction. We hoisted anchor quickly and slowly made our way across the sound to where the progress was made. We lost some meters because the current still was strong, but finally started to go in the right direction when reaching the middle of the sound. The little wind that was there was just enough to overcome the current even though the current must have been stronger in the middle.
Finally we managed to escape the claws of the sound as one of very few boats and our competitors who anchored with us were left behind.
There was a small breeze unevenly distributed in the middle of the long fjord between Drøbak and Filtvedt. We were tempted to go to the west side that normally would be favored but instead we opportunistically hunted the wind patches across the fjord.
We made great progress and had cought up with some of the expresses in front of us when we did our second error. We did not notice that the fovoured west side started to kick in. A long train of boats were starting to move. Before we reached the wind train close to the west shore we had lost all the gain.
We closely approached the end of the fjord, the next check point Filtvedt. Then we noticed something that should not happen, there was a new train of boats progressing at the opposit side of the fjord. We did our third mistake. Instead of quickly crossing over we stayed at the west side. We only realised our error when we had to fight our way against the current that now was strong even very close to the shore.
Finally we made our way past the checkpoint at Filtvedt still in the lead of the expresses chasing us from behind but with little contact with the leading pack.
The wind was now clear and the further south we came the better and it came from the southwest which resulted in an easy reach towards the south. We decided to go the straightest way towards Gullholmen and from there to the most southerly turning point Hollenderbåen. Going west to Bastøy as planned seemed now to be a risky game, but we were not really certain.
The wind increased and we made fabulous progress topping 7.3 knots. I tried to stear through the building waves and avoid brutal clashes. At the same time i had my target speed set to 6.5 knots increasing to 7 when the wind turned more west and we could reach now directly towards the Hollender lighthouse. There was a competitor Express in front of us and it seemed we slowly came closer. Then they did their bad move. They tacked to port and did a beat towards the west and we were soon equal on the "ladder" only they were quite far upwind. But this theoretic advantage they did not cash in. slowly they dropped down on us and when we met we were only meters behind them and we went to windward of them and passed them only after a few minutes. One progress on the ranking list!
The expected spinnakker run from Hollender northwards to Horten did never happen. The wind had turned west and increased and we surfed the waves under genua. It had been rainy but with brakes that made it not too bad. But this took a brutal end.
Some real forceful squalls started to build up in the north west. They hit us with full force and we powered out, flattening the main and twisting the sails. No reef on the express but this method workes fine until 15 m/s. But now the wind was more. The main sail had to be flogged and got some bad beating, but it was nice to see that we manged the difficult conditions better than our chasing competitor who dropped down rapidly.
After almost 24 hours we crossed the finish line. Checking the results we got a surprice. We made it to the seventh place which is the best result we had yet in the færder wit the Express.
Happy and after a meal we sailed the 7 hours back to the home harbour, totally exhausted. but honestly a days rest and i could do it again :)
We learned later that quite a few boats got in trouble, some DNF and oe in the club a FC8 lost its rigg. I hate these things and the standing rig will be renwed this winter. Forestay is new this year but the other wires will be renewed.
Looking forward to next year!!!