LERWICK is the centre of the yachting world this weekend with around 300 crew participating in three different international races all enjoying Shetland hospitality.
First to arrive were 18 yachts racing in the North Sea Triangle between Den Helder, in the Netherlands, to Lerwick and on to Farsund in Norway.
Then, as of Thursday late afternoon, the 44 yachts competing in the annual Shetland Race, as well as those participating in the 1,000-mile Doublehanded Race from the Dutch port of Ijmuiden, started arriving in Lerwick.
By Friday morning the old harbour in the town centre was jam-packed with expensive yachts from seven European countries.
The Leith-registered Erin was first over the line at just before 5pm on Thursday, about 30 hours after they had left Bergen.
Erin crewmember Ken Brown was delighted with a very competitive race.
He said: “It was a lovely race, the wind was just nice for a change and the sea wasn’t too great.
“We were all focused, we had practiced a few days beforehand, and we kept the morale up. We trimmed the sails all night and all day.
“We had a race with the Norwegian boat for several hours; and he tried and he tried but couldn’t quite catch us – we crossed the line first; so happy days.”
Chairman of the organising committee Stephen Johnston said he was delighted that the hard work of the last year had paid off with a record number of yachts in the harbour.
“There are around 70 boats from seven countries in the harbour; there are three countries involved in the races; and all enjoying themselves.
“They all had a week of great sailing which was very competitive right to the end.
“It is also great to see so many coming back; we have several yachtsmen here in their seventies, who have completed the race 23 or 24 times.”
One of the veterans of the Shetland Race is undoubtedly 75-year old Bjarne Møster, who was one of the instigators of the annual race.
“It was back in the eighties. There was only one boat that completed it; it was my boat which I built myself – and, we won the race!” he joked.
The arrival of the yachts coincides with a wide range of festivities in the town and around the pier, including the midsummer carnival parade and the lifeboat open day, both on Saturday.
Lerwick harbour master Callum Grains said the port has never been as busy.
“We are delighted to see three different yacht races in the harbour this weekend; this is always great for the town centre.
“The offshore oil and gas sector is very buoyant; we are seeing big increases in the tonnage of ships and vessels turning up at Lerwick, including some of these accommodation barges which are being used to house workers for some of the new onshore developments.”
The accommodation barge Kalmar which arrived at Lerwick harbour on Friday morning and is temporarily moored at Victoria Pier East, will be moved to Albert Wharf on Monday.
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