Thrills and spills in labyrinthine endurance test

The Archipelago Raid, an extreme race through the 100,000 islands of the Swedish Archipelago region, finished on Friday 3 August after five intense days. 29 teams navigated their way through the amazing labyrinth of islands and rocks between Sweden and Finland on Formula 18 catamarans, and there was no shortage of drama, with two dismastings, a near sinking and numerous collisions with rocks. Competitors seemed undeterred though, one team, White Knuckles Express, managed to purchase another boat after a near sinking and continued the race. Another, Voltaren, managed to hold a sail up when their mast came down and ‘sail’ to the beach to fix their mast and carry on.

The event was won by the French team of Jean Christophe Mourniac and Franck Citeau sailing a Hobie Tiger. The pair enjoyed a double victory: having never entered the race before, they also picked up the newcomer’s award.

Round the world British yachtsman Conrad Humphreys, skipper of Team Blue, said of the event: ‘It’s one of the most fun events I have done. The camaraderie is pretty unique from the race organisers right through to the competitors – there is a really nice spirit. There are a lot of similarities with sailing round the world – when you are sailing ‘blind’ down rock alley it is much like being in the Southern Ocean sailing through the icebergs, you just have to accept if something has your name on it there is nothing you can do about it. The lack of sleep is also comparable. It really is a tough event and I wont miss the mosquito’s but it has been fantastic!’

Photo: Thierry Martinez