Old favourites are on Lerwick’s international yachting calendar this summer, along with a new event visiting the Shetland port before heading off west, into the Atlantic.
First to arrive will be entrants in the four-yearly Round Britain & Ireland Race, with the itinerary including Lerwick for the 14th time since the event started in 1966. From a start in Plymouth on 3 June, via Kinsale, Ireland, and Castlebay, on Barra, the expected 16 yachts, including five multihulls, will round Muckle Flugga, at the northern tip of Shetland, to enter Lerwick this weekend for a 48-hour stopover. The yachts will then sail for Lowestoft, in eastern England and for the home port. Leading the Race at Barra are the multihulls, with trimaran The Edge the first to depart for Lerwick on Tuesday morning.
The annual Pantaenius Bergen-Shetland Race will pay a 32nd visit to Lerwick on Thursday 28 June, with the return race to Bergen starting on Saturday 30 June, with approximately 165 crew from over 30 yachts enjoying their stay in port.
Included for the first time this year are entrants in the inaugural Viking Offshore Race. These six competitors then leave Lerwick on Sunday 1 July for Torshavn, in Faroe, and onward to Reykjavik, Iceland.
The two races are billed as “the most challenging and spectacular event of the North Sea and North Atlantic,” as well as giving the opportunities to explore four countries.
"Lerwick has long been popular as a port-of-call with yacht crews as a place to meet-and-compete, thanks to modern harbour facilities, the warm Shetland welcome and the islands' many attractions," said Sandra Laurenson, Chief Executive of Lerwick Port Authority. "It will be great to see a new contest adding to the buzz these popular, long-established races create.”
Lerwick attracts around 500, increasingly large, yachts annually, including the annual and periodic international races. With an early, busy start to the season, this year’s arrivals are on a par with last year, with over 80 arrivals to the end of May. French crews have featured, alongside yachts from Scandinavia, Germany, The Netherlands and Britain. There is an active local yachting scene.
Yachts make a valuable contribution to marine tourism in Shetland, with its 1,700 miles of stunning coastline, along with Lerwick’s dive boat activity, boat trips and record-breaking cruise traffic. Britain’s “Top Port”, Lerwick is the most northerly commercial harbour in the country.