18th December

Centenarian vessels still sailing hard in Norwegian waters

In a brisk south-southwest wind, several Colin Archer designed ‘Redningsselskapet’ (Norwegian Lifeboat Institution) vessels raced with other classic boats in the relatively sheltered waters inside the archipelago off the mainland at Risør on the southeast coast of Norway.Risor II held off a strong challenge from Larvik to take the gun to the delight of the home crowd.

Risor 2013

 Designed by the very same naval architect and builder of Asgard (1905) preserved and on display in Collin’s Barricks, Dublin, these pre-1936 vessels ― now mostly privately owned and superbly restored and maintained ― would set to sea whenever the weather got bad to shepherd the local fishing fleets safely into port. These sail-only vessels are therefore very well suited to racing in these conditions.

Upwards of 100 craft of various designs participated in the annual wooden boat festival now in its thirtieth year. The three-day event also featured age-old maritime craft displays and demonstrations along the town’s quayside. Risør once prospered as a flourishing exporter of timber to the Netherlands.

Typical of the era, traditional wooden buildings were built very close together and wood, oil and candles were used to heat and light homes. In 1861, a major fire destroyed almost 250 houses; however due to strong local economy, the town was rebuilt. Today, just a few original buildings remain.

In 1991 after a 30-year debate, a plan to protect the town was agreed by the municipal committee. This involved the restoration and maintenance of almost 600 of the distinctive white clapper-board houses, and work to the streetscapes and lighting.

(Visit the 'Archive' Issue 9.4 (Aug/Sept) to view more images of the event)

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