In four short years, Denmark's 140-mile Silverrudder Race has grown from 15 tough contestants to over 400 sailors, making it the world's largest singlehanded distance race. The race goes around the Danish island of Fyn and the course is a combination of coastal sailing as well as navigating narrow passes with flushing currents. Phenomenal growth like this should make other race organizers around the world take notice. The race is sailed annually starting on the autumn equinox. Most of the boats come from Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Croatia making it a truly international event.
Whether the draw is singlehanded distance racing, sailing around islands, sailing through narrow passages, or the challenge of constant sail changes, every race organizer looking to increase participation should read the following report written by UK Sailmakers Germany's Stefan Voss who sailed his X332 DOGMATIX.
"The start and finish is in Svendborg, on the extreme southern point of the island, which is on a very narrow sound with a ton of tidal current. Starting and finishing is very tricky! The picture above shows the first class trying to make ground against the ripping current.
"The boat sizes vary from 18-footers up to 45-footers as well as multihulls, all divided into seven classes. There are no RATING at all, just winners in each of the classes. Everything is allowed (except for running the engine of course). The small boats start the race at 0800 and other groups follow every 30 minutes finishing with the big multihulls at 1200.
"My first attempt at the race was a fantastic adventure. The first few miles were an unbelievable scene as I gybed back and forth with the spinnaker through tight crowds in the very narrow pass between islands. Twelve hours later, when in total darkness on a tough 40-mile beat in 16 to 20 knots, I was still surrounded by red and green running lights. Very cool!
"I ended up 19th out of 390 keelboats and 7th in the 63-boat Medium Keelboat Class 2, which made me extremely happy. My time on the course was 23 hours 47 minutes and 20 seconds. The first place boat in my class beat me across the line by 5 minutes and 41 seconds. First overall went to an X43 in the Extra Large Keelboat Class, which sailed around Fyn in 22 hours 48 minutes and 12 seconds, just about one hour faster than my X332. By the way, I did beat the XP44 XAR by more than 3 minutes, which was third in the Extra Large Keelboat class.
"UK Sailmakers was well represented on the course by good racing cruising sails and tough singlehanders! The biggest success went to Wolle Heibeck with his Open 32 canting keel carbon one off named BLACK MAGGY, which was the leading the pack with the Open 40 RED.
"Unfortunately they ended up anchored 200 meters from the finish line as the breeze went flat and a strong current tried to push them away from the line! (see the photo of BLACK MAGGY anchored in front of the finish line, which is the bridge in front of her.) After being anchored for nearly 3 hours, they were passed by the slower boats that came up with the new wind. In fact, BLACK MAGGY finished one place behind me in the Medium Keelboat 2 class after being so far ahead.
"I had too much adrenaline to get sleepy; too much competition to relax. I made five spinnaker changes on a tight reach between midnight and 6 am, all that moving around kept me awake.
"The only fast boat that did not struggle was the overall winning Multihull, a one off, sailed by Jens Quorning (owner of DRAGONFLY Multihull company) who finished with the unbelievable time of 15 hours 34 minutes!
"But the Silverrudder Race is more than a race; it's an adventure of sailing singlehanded around an island with partly open water and many narrow passages. By the way, I have the greatest respect for the guys sailing the smallest boats that took more than 40 hours to finish. I promise you they could not sleep either. "