Sliding across the finishing line at speed, with the whole crew perched on the rail to take line honours and set a new record, they made it look easy. The truth is, that it was a nail-biting race from start to finish, with no certainties until they finished, then the back slapping and hugs could be liberally handed out.
The task looked daunting from way before the start, with light winds and unsettled conditions forecast. Then there was the not insignificant hurdle that they were in the last group with a start at 13:10. This meant that in the early part of the race, while still within the restricting confines of Stockholm harbour and the channels through the adjacent archipelago, they were fighting their way through, and often having to avoid the other 250 odd smaller boats in the fleet.
“The race started predictably, with a lot of dodging and weaving though the massive fleet and the odd spectator boat,” was the comment from those onboard, but once out into the open stretches of the Baltic Sea CQS stretched her legs and left the mob behind. By the time they reached the first waypoint, a lighthouse just outside the archipelago, Ludde and his team had worked out a five nautical mile advantage over their nearest rival, the 100 foot Hyundai.
Then came the next obstacle; thick fog settled in and the wind dropped to just 8 knots, but the team managed to coax a little more boat speed than this out of CQS. Then came the rain, “30 nm to Gotland, and it is sheeting down in the Swedish twilight,” came the report.
Three and a half hours later at 03:16, having dodged a few rocks in their path, the on-board commentary told us, “we are on our way down the eastern side of Gotland island in lumpy seas and a 17kt breeze,” their boat speed was 11 knots.
The team managed to keep their speed up around 11 knots all the way to the southern tip of Gotland Island, where they arrived at 10:30, and then conditions got tougher. Coming out from the lee of the island they were hit with 25 knots of westerly wind as they turned towards the finish.
A mere one and a half hours later Ludde and the CQS team were passing the town of Visby on the western side of the island. “The crew are focussed as they pass the town of Visby, Almagrundet lighthouse next and then the home straight,” came the news from onboard. “Is the record on? No time to think about it for now as the crew gybe their way up the remains of the Gotland coast with the grey translucent A1 looking magnificent in the afternoon sun.
“Stay tuned; we're giving it everything.”
Through sail change after sail change, they worked flat out to keep the boat speed up as they headed north towards the finishing line. The figures looked good and the record was achievable, then at around 19:15 the update from out on the race track said, “wind conditions have dropped through the Swedish doldrums, with approximately 12 nautical miles of race track left and about 1.5 hours to do it in to capture the record!” The tension was building both on board and ashore.
Someone must have paid suitable homage to Huey the wind god, because he sent an early evening breeze to propel them towards the finishing line, or was it the magic touch of Ludde’s long time friend Ola Anstradsson, who was handed the helm as they approached the line. Ola was being honoured for “his logistical expertise, his pit work and watch captain brilliance, and his cooking heroics.”
Suffice it to say that CQS’s arrow like bow sliced through the finishing line at 20:51:35, some 27 minutes and 48 seconds inside the old record, which was also held by Ludde Ingvall that time in Nicorette.
The Race Crew: