The ÅF Offshore Race was first raced in 1937 and has since the start been managed by The Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS). The course is 350 Nautical miles and with 250 boats competing it counts as one of the leading offshore events in northern Europe.
The number of participants has gone from 183 to 248 boats in the five last years and the number of foreign participants has also increased from 30 to 52. The main part of the guest participants come from Finland followed by Germany and most of them are competing in ORCi. In 2019 there will be a European Championship in ORCi in Oxelösund not far from Stockholm and the Swedish Championship in Sandhamn, which will probably lead to even more foreign boats next year.
Eight nationalities are represented including Germany, The Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, Russia, Norway and Great Britain. There are many interesting boats in the different classes. For more detailed information, please go to http://race.ksss.se/en/Latest-news/News/.
One team to keep a eye on, and a contender to win the overall scoreboard of the event is the Estonian crew on the Cookson 50 Furiosa, competing for Estonia with Rolf Relander as Skipper. Furiosa won the Big Boat class of ÅF Offshore Race last year.
”We aim to defend our title. Last year we had a good run sailing out through the archipelago and after that we could extend our lead going south on open water to Gotland. It looks like there will be plenty of wind this year as well and that is good for us”, says skipper Rolf Relander competing for his club Tallinna Jahtklubi.
He has raced around Gotland ten times and this is the third time with Furiosa.
“This has been one of our favourite events for many years, it’s always a competitive field in our class. And it’s a unique kind of racing with the start in the heart of the city and going out through the archipelago”.
This year, there is a special trophy awarded to the best women’s in the event. And there are more teams with more than 50 % women than ever before. Emily Hagen is racing as the skipper of Williwaw, a Figaro II racing double-handed with Whitbread Round the World competitor Anna Drouge.
“We want to get a top result in our class and in the overall standings. Racing double-handed is a bigger challenge and it’s fun since you have to be active on board all the time. Also it’s great that there are more women competing but it’s still too few”, says Emily Hagen.
The conditions for the start are good according to Håkan Andersson, Race Director of ÅF Offshore Race: ”There will be some great sailing after the start going out through the archipelago but on the way south passing Gotland it will be tough with over 20 knots of wind and big waves”, says Håkan Andersson.
”After rounding the south of Gotland the fleet will face the same weather going north and it looks like the wind is going to be strong until at least Tuesday night. I think any teams are going to be faster than what we are used to”.
Today, as a warm up to the regatta The ÅF Inshore Race will be raced in the city centre of Stockholm. Also, the event will see the premier of the “Lilla ÅFOR”, a youth regatta for Optimist and Hansa dinghies.