Start of the Shetland and Viking Races

Bergen, Norway

Today saw the start of the Bergen to Shetlands Race, now a classic event on the Norwegian racing calendar. The race is organised by the Bergen Sailing Association and since its inception in 1987 has become the most popular offshore racing event for sailors based on the west coast of Norway.

The 32nd edition attracted a total of 30 yachts, among them a group of five yachts that are actually taking part in the first edition of the Viking race.

This new event will continue from the Shetland Islands to the Faroe Islands, and will complete its course at Reykjavík in Iceland. Along its way, the Viking race will call at several places settled by Norsk navigators at the beginning of the 11th century.

My own presence at the start of this event was due to an invitation from the race chairman, Fridtjov Bergman who had asked me to make a presentation after the skippers’ briefing about the cruising opportunities following the finish of the race.

But I was also asked to talk about my own voyages to Antarctica and the Northwest Passage bearing in mind that I had been following in the footsteps of the most famous Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, who was the first to transit the Northwest Passage and also the first man to reach the South Pole.

Over the years, the Norwegian Coast Guard has been supporting this event and for today’s start the committee boat was the Coast Guard patrol ship Tor.

We were collected early in the morning by the ship’s launch, although describing this well-equipped SAR vessel as a “launch” is misnomer.

Heading for the start line to set the inshore buoy.

Tor’s bridge.

The forecast was of light northwesterly winds and indeed there was only about 10 knots for the start, but every one of the vessels made an excellent to start.

The last to cross the start line was this beautiful classic yawl.

… and they were off.

This is the link to the race tracking page.

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