COVID-19 update: Shetland is now reopen to visitors, as per Scottish government guidelines, but please read our guidance on travelling responsibly.

Bergen-Shetland Race

Take part in the largest ocean racing event in the North Sea! The Bergen-Shetland Races are ocean races between Bergen in the Hordaland region of Western Norway and Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Islands.

The Bergen - Shetland Races are ocean going races between Bergen in Western Norway and Lerwick, capital of the Shetland Islands. The Races grew out of an initial proposal to organise an Arctic Race from Bergen to a Norwegian port north of the Arctic Circle. A race to Lerwick was to be a "tester" for this longer event. The first Race in 1986 attracted only three entries, two of whom failed to finish, leaving Bjarne Moster, the original organiser, to complete it on his own!

Following this modest start, the Races grew rapidly and became a success. With over 60 yachts taking part, the Arctic Race was forgotten. As with any such Races, the number of participants has fluctuated over the years; recently, there have been around 40 competitors. The size of yachts has steadily grown with most entries now in the 35-45 ft. range. Until 2000 the Races coincided with the Whitsun holiday, usually in May. Since then, the decision to fix the date as the last weekend in June has brought the Races into more hospitable weather and competitors enjoy almost 24 hours of daylight around midsummer.

A further change was made in 2004 when the event was renamed The Bergen-Shetland Races, no longer being a single race in two legs but two distinct Races. There has been growing interest from outwith Scandinavia, with demand to take part in only one Race, combining it with a holiday and cruise in either direction across the North Sea. This has been so successful that the organisers wish to bring this opportunity to a wider audience, so an invitation is cordially extended to all interested sailors to take part in future Bergen - Shetland Races.

For further information on Bergen - Shetland Races email

If you are unable to take part this year, why not join Sailonline's virtual race of both legs between Bergen and Lerwick.

Why take part?

  • The Bergen-Shetland Races are the most challenging and spectacular event of the North Sea. The races provide an opportunity to spend time in Norway or Shetland - an excellent chance to explore these two amazing destinations.

Who can participate?

  • Yachts over 27 feet long - compliance with the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations (Category 2)
  • Minimum crew: four
  • A "crew match" facility is available for individual crew seeking a berth on a yacht, or for yachts seeking for additional crew

What you can look forward to in addition:

  • A programme of social events - prizegivings etc.
  • Guided tours - combine the Races with sightseeing in the breathtaking Shetland Islands, located at the crossroads of the North Sea. Learn more about tours or contact us.
  • A welcome and all assistance required to make the very best of a visit to these spectacular northern cruising grounds


  • Scheduled connections remarkably easy and comprehensive
  • Daily passenger/vehicle ferries between Aberdeen and Lerwick
  • Frequent summer air services between Shetland and Bergen and year-round services from Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow, with good onward connections to anywhere in Europe
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