Written by Annina Holkkola, crew Finland

When arranging the contest in Jakobstad the main goal for the planning committee was to make the best contest ever. After months of planning Mats Löfberg and Håkan Pettersson from the Finnish Atlantic Challenge team could see the results of their labour when the challenge started with eager contestants on the water and cheering crowds on land. Even the weather was on our side during this contest-week showing off the beautiful Finnish summer in all its glory.

This year the contestants were accommodated in the Pursisalmi School where all teams got their own classrooms. From the school it was only a short walk to the harbour where the gigs where located. On the starting line for the 2008 contest were 12 gigs.

The contest started with the Captain’s gig, which this year was somewhat more challenging than in previous years. Despite this, many gigs showed off some good boat-handling and rowing-skills. In Finland the coxwain’s meetings were held not in the mornings but in the evenings so that the teams would have more time in the mornings to prepare and gather the teams for the day’s events.

The most appreciated event in Finland 2008 would be the Passage Race and L’Esprit which was held on the second contest day. Here the teams rowed some 6 NM to the island of Köpmanholmen in beautiful sunny weather. On the island the teams had time to eat lunch, play some volleyball and go to the sauna before venturing out in mixed teams for the L’Esprit. Not many can say that they have rowed in such narrow passages than those taking part in this event. The finishing sailing race to the island of Mässkär was done with good international team-work in each gig.

The Oars & Sails event was to become a watershed for many teams. Here the winds tested the boats and their crews where some of which finished the race with broken masts or damaged hulls.

The winning team of AC 2008 would be the Russian crew in Dignité which showed some excellent seamanship and discipline when competing both on water and on land. The seamanship award went to UK crew, and the fair play award went to International Crew of the gig Enchante