Amerikaner är ju kända för att ta i, så man får ta det Dobbs Davis skriver i Seahorse med en nypa salt… Men det känns ändå kul att vårt team får beröm.
Peter Gustafson is the offshore sailor we should all want to be: competent, passionate, organized, thoughtful and ultimately successful. He does not campaign a flash new custom boat loaded with pro sailors nor spend prodigiously to try to dodge the latest trends in rating rules (although he does study these very well). His platform for racing is a stock J/111 that his amateur team campaign in signature distance races at home and further afield, such as the Middle Sea Race, the Fastnet and most recently the new 600-miler in Greece, the Aegean 600.
At 36ft this may seem small to most of us, but the J/111 is laid out well, has performance versatility in most conditions, and Peter and his team are fit and enthusiastic, which goes a long way to achieving results. You get the sense Peter and his team have come to rational choices on almost everything they do, and to race a larger boat would only lead to exponentially more hassle and expense.
Peter is also proficient at communication and sharing his observations on the sport. His online blog, BLUR.SE, informs and entertains in simple, direct reviews of his own team’s exploits on his J/111 of the same name, but also looks at other topics in the racing world.
Blur is an aesthetically pleasing presentation of material that is easy to read, review and enjoy, and is devoid of distracting ads, solicitations, shouting or profanity from unruly readers. There are links to other media outlets, but it’s all packaged in a way that even us fossils can follow without feeling like we need to engage, unless we feel inspired to contribute something positive and not just rant.
Oh, and here’s the other thing: Peter is from Gothenburg and his blog is in Swedish with some English. And, he routinely helps organize large, inclusive, fun races on the Swedish west coast, like the Marstrand Big Boat Race and Midsummer Solo Challenge.
Understandably, Blur is thus immensely popular Scandinavia – from Denmark to Finland. But, I bet has plenty of fans elsewhere because the topics are relevant to the core of our sport: amateur big boat sailors who are at high degrees of interest and competency and are keen for the game while still having a real job and a proper life.
Some of us pundits have forgotten how cool and important this sector is — which is why it was a great pleasure sitting down with Peter at the Olympic Marina in Lavrio, Greece, venue for the latest new 600-miler. They had done well in a race that delivered all manner of challenges: a relatively light first half that had them vying boat for boat with rivals 10ft longer, learning how to get around the numerous corners of a very interesting course, pulling up to within striking distance of the overall lead in corrected time, and then seeing that slip away when the race’s second half featured a 25-40kt Meltemi where on a long reach the larger boats powered off into the distance.”
“We spent a lot of time preparing for this race, researching the weather, examining our rating and polars to bring the right sailplan, running scenarios,” Peter said. “We also learned from our Middle Sea Race experience it is better to stack the boat with capable crew, but rotate them regularly to keep everyone fresh. So, we sail with nine, which is more than the buoy racers, but this seems to be a magic number to keep our boat going at 100 per cent all the time.”
This is an example of a rational decision based on logic and experience rather than the norm which would dictate going with a reduced crew so as not to be dragging more weight… which may be true for a predominant downwind race like Transpac, but not these 600-milers, where there can be a lot of beating and reaching when the weight is needed.
The Blur team delivered their boat to Greece weeks earlier from Malta, where they last competed in the Middle Sea Race in October 2019 — scoring an impressive class win in ORC 4 and third overall in ORC, while earning third in IRC Class 5. Eighteen months on they were hungry to get back into action.
“We got here in plenty of time to re-commission the boat, then complete our crew practice and sail-testing well in advance,” Peter said. “The weather was being monitored and modeled days in advance, so when it was time to start, the team were relaxed, ready, and in a state of confidence that few amateur teams experience as they scramble to make the start.”
The approach paid off again. In Greece they scored a win in ORC Division 2, second overall, and second in IRC 2, fourth overall, with only much bigger boats ahead of them in the standings.
“This was not an easy race,” Peter said of their Odyssey around the Aegean. “But, it was immensely satisfying because of the constant shifting gears. This is a suitable test for any good offshore team, because all the skillsets are needed; it’s not straightforward, especially at the corners! In one minute, you’re double-reefed with a storm jib, then the wind drops 10kt and you rush to shake out the reefs… only to need them again a few minutes later!!”