Lerwick Ahoy for Dozen of Yachts!

by Misa Hay -

It is high season on the high seas this month for yachts and other craft heading for Lerwick, with around 80 expected to arrive at the Shetland port over the course of a week in four events – including three which are international – bringing over 300 crew.

Sandra Laurenson, Lerwick Port Authority Chief Executive, said: “With a lively yachting scene locally, the concentrated combination of visits is the high point of the visitor season and an important part of our summer calendar.”
“The return of three events and a first time for the fourth underlines the popularity of Lerwick as a port-of call-providing a great welcome for UK and international crews from around Europe.”

Lining up for Lerwick are entrants in:

  • The biennial North Sea Triangle Challenge which left Den Helder, in The Netherlands, on Sunday 16 June, with 20 yachts and around 60 crew, scheduled to arrive in Lerwick from around 19 June and depart on 21 June for Farsund in Norway.
  • The overlapping annual Bergen-Shetland Race, with the first entrants due to arrive from Bergen on Thursday 20 June, having left Norway the previous day, and departing Lerwick on the return leg on 23 June. Competitors in the largest North Sea yachting event, now in its 27th year, include the Shetland yacht, “Vandal”, skippered by Leslie Irvine.
  • The biennial 1000-mile Doublehanded Race – described as the most challenging in the northern North Sea – which left Ijmuiden, in The Netherlands, on 13 June and again will join the Bergen-Shetland Race at the start in Norway.

With a combined fleet of approximately 48 yachts and over 220 crew, the international participation from around seven countries – including Sweden, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, Great Britain and Norway – is thought to be the highest yet.

  • The Old Gaffers Association's Round Britain Challenge, on a first time visit to Lerwick from 25-27 June as part of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of its formation to promote gaff rig and traditional boat sailing. Twelve boats – “gaffers”, with four-sided sails and a wooden pole, the “gaff”, across the top – will include Shetland in their sector of the Challenge.

The majority of craft will berth close to Lerwick town centre where pontoons give access at all stages of the tide. Larger yachts use the harbour wall, and there are no restrictions on size of craft.

Saturday 22 June will be a busy day on Victoria Pier with the annual Lerwick Lifeboat Day during the daytime and hosting the annual Carnival floats on completion of their procession in the evening.

Annually, around 500 yachts visit the harbour where investment by the Port Authority in recent years has improved and expanded facilities for craft and crews, including access and safety.

The 2014 calendar will include a return to Lerwick of the Round Britain & Ireland Race which is held every four years.

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