Millennium Norway Race

David Morgan

Albany Express skippered by David Morgan won the Millennium Race to Norway. Albany Express has now raced to Norway 3 times , 1994, 1997 and now 2000.

Start of the Norway Race 2000

Start of the Norway Race 2000

We had a terrific start, leading the fleet across the line. It took ten minutes for the big boats Bright Eyes ” Oyster 41 ” and Harold Usherwood’s Westerly Typhoon “Stormer” to catch us. The start was in about 6-8 knots of wind. We headed a little North and put the Kite up ASAP. Off we went rapidly leaving the stragglers behind. The weather was bright and sunny and winds steady for first full day – then we experienced glassy seas with sea gulls paddling faster than us for about 12 hours. I won’t tell you what they do with human excrement….. We managed to keep going about 0.2 – 0.5 knots. This is where a lot retired. Bright Eyes reckoned their GPS predicted landfall around middle September.

On the third night the weather deteriorated with NNW winds building up to what we now know were 45 knots. Very big seas breaking under us from a number of directions. Lots of white water, surfing down and up the backs of breaking waves, going about 9 -10 knots. It was important to maintain speed to prevent the seas catching us, and although we had taken down the headsail, we had only one reef in the main.

The huge waves crashed over us many times, and then suddenly, at about 0400, both John Barry and I were thrown out of the boat, with no warning. Fortunately we were prepared for the weather with Mark down below, hatch shut, boards in and harnesses on. The surprise to me was how warm the water was – somehow, I’m not sure how, I got back into the boat and looked round for John. A little voice from behind the pushpit called ” Can you get my leg in ?” Looking round, Mark appeared somewhat wild eyed in the hatch – he had been imitating a front loading washing machine……. I got John’s leg over the life line, then grabbed his harness and pulled him in. The boat behaved superbly – with no one on the helm she simply screwed up into the wind and stayed there whilst all this was happening.

The boat had taken a lot of water and everything was wet. I confirm the recommendation by ORC for a second bilge pump down below. There were to be a number of other times when the cockpit filled up to the sheerline, squirting water through the gaps in the boards down below. 1″ diameter drains are not adequate to get rid of so much water quickly. Because of the heavy weather I decided to helm for the next 12 hours as the seas were so great I wanted to ensure the forces on the rudder were minimised. It was not the place to be if you lost your rudder, even though we have a system for emergency steering, I did not want to have to try it!

As we approached within about 2 miles from the island belt around southern Norway conditions moderated, the sun came out and life instantly got better. We crossed the line at 12.06 BST – 72 hours and 6 minutes Entering Mandal river we found Stormer had only got in 6 hours ahead of us and out of 9 entries only 4 completed the race under sail. Ed Watson said he thought it was the worst weather he had experienced. For me it was also true – after many crossings with mixed but reasonable weather- sometimes a little hard – this was my predicted pasting!

The Norwegian press got a hold of the story and suddenly we were local heroes! Press calls were taken and we made the first and third pages of the local newspaper. Big photos and a long article. Some say it was slightly better than the story of a local dog drowning….

Mandal

Mandal

Our hosts as usual looked after us all superbly with the now traditional Crab party on Hatholmen Island 200 crabs to be eaten – lots of wine and whisky – the usual !! ……. Slightly worse for wear due to the drink I made the responding speech to the Lady Mayor and our other hosts. A somewhat inebriated John Liddle stood up to say a few words, he got part way through his speech when he had his shorts pulled down from behind by John Barry who rapidly scuttled away in fear of his life. John’s a very big fella! It has been said that the Norwegian MOD are interested in talking to Liddle as his knickers could probably outfit the whole Norwegian airborne division with parachute material.. The parties continued around the islands and on Friday evening I was asked to open the annual crab festival and say a few words of pleasure at being there.

A wonderful time was had by us for the 9 day cruise in the area. Yet again we were the last to leave for home arriving back on August the 12th. We left on Wednesday the 9th -Our trip home also was pretty rough for the first 2 days, big seas, black nights, no head sail and this time 2 reefs in the main. Friday’s weather came good and we started to dry out. The night sail was really nice with millions of stars, and Saturdays cruise into Blyth terrific.

John had bought 3 plastic Viking helmets with horns and a Norwegian Flag – we entered the harbour earing these and yelling rape & pillage which was the only way to finish. How he knew we were coming in I don’t know, but Stuart Emmerson and others arrived at our berth simultaneously with us landing, bearing trays of beer.

What a welcome home !!!

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