The 2018 event that stood out for UK Sweden’s Mikael Olesen was the 350-mile AF Offshore Race also known as the Around Gotland Race. Olesen sailed this iconic race aboard the brand new Arcona 465 named FLYT that had had its very first sail just three days before the start. While Olesen and crew acknowledged that sailing a long-distance, offshore race without having had a proper shakedown period was a dicey call; they went after inspecting the boat, gear, and sails the best they could.
The race started right off downtown Stockholm and then weaved through the islands of the Stockholm archipelago. The UK Sailmakers’ Uni-Titanium upwind sails fit and performed perfectly out of their bags as they were immediately put to an extreme test that they passed with flying colors. Eventually the fleet got free of the islands and into the Baltic for a 16-hour downwind sleighride in 30-34 knot winds sailing to Hoburgen at the southern-most point of Gotland Island. At that point in the race, FLYT was fourth in fleet of 237 boats.
Olesen said, “It was an unbelievable ride. We pushed our still “untested” boat to the max and she sailed like a rocket; our speed never dipped below 17 knots with our top speed pegged at 23.2. The video (above) shows us sailing this new boat in 28-30 knots with complete control. The reality is that starting a long-distance race without a proper shakedown was not the best way to prepare, and taking off in conditions like these without knowing if everything would work was nuts; but we were lucky that the boat was built and commissioned well and our sails and gear were more than up to the tasks at hand!”
On the leg north to the finish off Sandhamn Island the wind got lighter and shifted. While the fastest boats had to beat all the way back from Gotland in the dying breeze, the slower boats got lifted to the finish. FLYT ended up 6thin the 50+ boat SRS A division and 13thoverall out of 237 boats. That result is not too shabby for a racer/cruiser with a full interior that had never been fully tested. Great results…and good fortune!