Gurra Krantz and the crew of Team SEB have held off the challenge of six other VO60s to win the Accenture Gotland Runt Race

The vivid green hull and sails of Team SEB crossed the line of the Accenture Gotland Runt Race at 0848 yesterday morning. In doing so, she became the first VO60 to finish and gained an important psychological advantage over the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet.

Much of the 335-mile race was contested in very light, shifty conditions and it wasn’t until the final night, while passing Visby on the island of Gotland, that Team SEB managed to break free of Knut Frostad’s Djuice Dragon. Team SEB found 12-16 knots of breeze and took off at 10 knots. Shortly after, Team SEB had built an eight-mile lead and kept that margin all the way to the finish of Sandhamn.

“It feels great to be first in this race with the new boat,” said winning skipper Gurra Krantz, “but we have a long way to go and we now have a huge list of action points to be taken to get the boat as fast as possible for the big race in September.”

During their two-boat training prior to the race, the Team SEB raceboat was often struggling to keep up with the 1997-vintage training boat, formerly Toshiba. This result in the first serious race between VO60s has restored confidence that their boat is a potential world-beater.

“As a result of the Gotland Runt Race we are getting to know our new boat intimately, and how she reacts in different manoeuvres,” said Krantz on arrival in Sandhamn. “We now have enough data to optimise her in time for the race start. We will also include the real racing sails for the rest of our preparation phase.

“We are sorting out the sail inventory, tuning the rig, fixing the bottom, sorting out the bulb and fin issue, most likely changing the rudder and a few other technical issues.”

Frostad’s frustrated Djuice Dragons arrived 1h 32m later, at 1020. “We were very close to leading at the south tip of Gotland, only two minutes behind SEB,” said Frostad, “but then the wind suddenly died. This resulted in us getting way too far behind.”

Having chosen to leave their two raceboats in Gothenburg, to minimise disruption to their two-boat training schedule, skipper Roy Heiner and his crew were racing Semcon R&D, ASSA ABLOY’s 1997-vintage training boat (formerly Chessie Racing). They finished third at 1206.

Irrepressible skipper and Gotland rookie Roy Heiner was happy to finish and very much aware of the performance gap between the previous and current generations. “It was a good race. All the older generation VO60s were having a very tight battle during most of the course but we could not keep the same pace as the new boats, SEB and Djuice Dragons.

“It is always good to be in a different environment and race together with the crew. We learnt many new things in race mode and we had some fun as well.”

Swedish crewmember Klas Nylöf, having completed his 15th Gotland Runt, opted to focus on the positive: “Before the wind died last night we had a perfect spinnaker reach heading north towards the finish. We sailed with a speed of 12-13 knots and gained some miles on Djuice. This was the best part of the race.”