Scandinavian sailors were recently treated to the annual Midsummer Solo Challenge, an overnight race for singlehanded sailors in and around the archipelagos of Sweden on the Baltic Sea. The purpose of the Midsummer Solo challenge is to have a great time together with other solo enthusiasts with a strong focus on the social part (not this year for COVID-19 reasons). To remove as much as possible of the competitive aspect of the race, they play by the following basic rules:
• Colregs are used, not racing rules
• Boats are divided into different classes based on hull length
• No handicap system (apart from hull length)
• No prize giving ceremony, just a t-shirt & beer, plus bragging rights
This year, more than 100 boats had signed up, including boats from other countries such as Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands. However, when COVID-19 struck, the Swedish Sailing Federation made the decision that only boats from the local area were allowed to participate in any sailing events. In the end, there were 59 boats at the starting line. The course is 123.0 NM and has only four marks, all port roundings.
Start to Mark 1 @ Lysekil: Before the start, most sailors decided to play it safe. The forecast was reaching in 15-18 knots of wind with gusts hitting 30 knots. Most boats started with full main and the big jibs. While “sail crossover” charts indicated that Code Zero’s would have been the weapon of choice, very few bothered to try it. In fact, a number of boats had the first reef in their mainsails. Once past the opening of the Marstrand fjord, a few boats did hoist and unfurl the Code Zero’s—like J88.SE sailed by Jonas Dyberg. Gusts up to 25 knots from TWA 100-110 hit, and the boat really took off. Approaching Gullholmen, the wind angle became tighter and was around TWA 70 so the Code Zero had to be furled. Once past Gullhomen, the wind shifted, and it was full upwind all the way to Mark 1, but there was never a need to tack. Just before Mark 1, the gusts were hitting close to 30 knots, but the boat was still fully manageable under the jib and reefed main, still no drama.
Mark 1 to Mark 2: From Lysekil to Smögen, some boats ran with jibs or Code Zero. The wind was shifting quite a lot, wind strength was around 15-20 knots and the gusts were close to 30 knots. The TWA was anything from 95-135 degrees. From Smögen to Fjällbacka, it was tight reaching, steady winds of around 20 knots gusting 30. Just after Smögen, the leader of the 25-30 ft class was Dyberg in his J/88.
Mark 2 to Mark 3: Going from Mark 2 to Mark 3 was pure pleasure for most sailors. Many deployed their Code Zeros, and the J/88 was cruising along at 7-11 knots, depending on the conditions for wind angle and breeze.
Mark 3 to Mark 4: This was a long leg, about 56.0 NM. Unfortunately, the wind angle was too tight for the Code Zero, the TWA was anywhere from 65-90 degrees and the windspeed was anywhere from 11-22 knots with a few gusts of 30 knots. Back to full main and jib only.
Mark 4 to Finish: As it was a northernly current, most skippers decided to stick to port tack to get maximum lift from the current and head toward shore. Once you got out of the current, it was time to short-tack into shore to the finish line past the Marstrand Fort. In the end, the J/88 named J88.SE, owned by Jonas Dyberg won the 25-30 ft Class and was 14th overall in a fleet of 52 boats. Only a handful of 34-45 ft boats beat him boat-for-boat. “It was a super-fast race this year since we had strong winds from ashore and therefore beam reach most of the race. I could not use any of my kites,” commented Dyberg. For more Midsummer Solo Challenge information, visit

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