Sailing Competitors Seek Safe Harbour in East Iceland

Twenty-three of the competitors in France’s Vendée Artique sailing competition are seeking shelter in Fákrúðsfjörður Bay in East Iceland due to dangerous weather conditions on the Atlantic Ocean, RÚV reports. This is the first time that skippers participating in the race were supposed to have crossed the Arctic Circle north of Iceland, but given the current weather conditions on the course, race organizers have elected to end the race in Fákrúðsfjörður.

Three of the skippers had already arrived in Fáskrúðsfjörður as of Friday night, with the rest expected in the early hours of Saturday morning. Roughly a third of the sailboats were known to have been damaged in the difficult weather on the way to Iceland, where the East Iceland Sailing Club was preparing to receive them.

Route designed to be difficult

Vendée Artique Course 2022

The newly-extended 3,500-nautical-mile Vendée Artique begins and ends in Les Sables d’Olonne in France and circumnavigates Iceland. It is the first qualifying race for the Vendée Globe, a single-handed, non-stop, round-the-world yacht race. As it is intended to help participating skippers test their boats and get a feel for the Vendée Globe, the course was designed to be difficult, with purposefully difficult weather conditions. Sailing from north to south “is a particular technical exercise,” explains the competition website, “requiring numerous manoeuvres and sail changes […] when rounding Iceland.”


Siglingaklúbbur Austurlands, FB

In its explanation for why the race was suspended, the organizers wrote that “a low pressure system is threatening the fleet. The skippers are likely to face tough conditions and the back of the fleet already have more than 40kts at times and gusts to 60kts.” Given the fact that the race “is quite isolated,” there was also the additional risk that rescue would be complicated in the event it was necessary.

The next Vendée Globe will take place in 2024; in order to be entered in the race, skippers must take place in at least two of five qualifying races. The next qualifying race is the Route du Rhum in November, which sales from Saint Malo, in Brittany, France, to Pointe-á-Pitre, Guadelopue.

Heaved on to Helicopter After Sailboat Stranded

TF-GRÓ Icelandic Coast Guard Helicopter

The Icelandic Coast Guard rescued four sailors by helicopter last night after their boat stranded on Æðey island in Ísafjarðardjúp in the Westfjords. The Coast Guard command centre received a report of the stranding just after midnight last night.

The sailboat did not spring a leak when it stranded, and while the weather was not good, the four crew members remained safe while they waited for assistance. Ships that were called to the scene could not approach the sailboat due to the weather, wind, and shallow water where the boat was located. The crew was finally rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter that arrived at the scene just before 2:00 AM. By 2:15 AM the four crew members (one Icelander and three UK citizens) had been lifted into the aircraft. The sailboat was recovered today and is in fine shape.

The rescue was captured on video and can be seen below.