Written by Misha Plekhanov, Trustee, Russia

As far as I can justify AC Finland have started their preparations for the 2008 event two years before the event. By the time trustees make a discovery visit to Yakobstad in September of 2007 most of the organizational issues have been spotted and though off.
Later on and during the preparations for the event it was pleasant to contact Mats and get his quick and efficient reply’s with all information needed.

It was a very good thing to be able to come to Contest area a little earlier and to be able to practice before the contest beginning. Living in a school together with other teams before the event is also a great thing. It allows to set a friendly atmosphere for the Contest, get familiar with people, waters and the town.
I will remember the Day 1 of the Contest for a long time – I have been dreaming about long distance race for many many years and Finish hosts offered great challenging coarse of this race followed by the very interesting passage ,between islands, gracefull L’Esprit race and beautiful Mässkär Island. What could compete with observing gigs sailing home in a sunset from Mässkär Island?

But all the other racing days were just great: weather, winds plus race courses set with a challenge in mind.
There was a day when the crews had to decide if they should carry on with a full sails or to reef potentially reducing their boat speed. Some crews were wise to take reefs, some broke their masts, some got away with full sails. It was crazy to see on the photos of that day how the hull of the gig get twisted by sails pulling one way and weight of the crew pushing the other way. There was a moment when I though that Belgium gig would capsize while jibing around second mark, SafeAndRescue people though the same and said to us on the radio that boats are sailing on their limits. And this is quite true, however the crews handled the boats with confidence.
Sack transfer was a really tough challenge with 10-12-14 m/s winds coming from the side, shallows and grassy bottom. Excellent performance of UK crew that day was an extremely fine example of seamanship. Irish crew has shown great team performance working around the problem of the short jackstay rope. Two or three anchors remain on the bottom that day because of short anchor ropes. Despite all the difficulties of this day I am glad that we had no real complains from the crews about the event.
It was great experience to be out on the water the day, when Navigation event was cancelled because of strong winds. But yes, I like rough weather and watching gig sailing with double reefs!
Then the final race day came…Adrenalin was dripping of the air that morning… crews were ready to give all their strength into the last race and they did. The nerves however spoiled a little a fair competition between some gigs, but the overall impression about the AC Contest in Yakobstad is EXCELLENT!

And once again I would like to say special thanks to our Finish hosts for sharing their time and resources to hold such a fantastic event. Thank you Finland!

 
www.rp-graf.ru