Crossing the Baltic in an X-79

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vrijdag 16 september 2022


by Pietro Giolli


April 2021 – when it all began.

I left Italy to go to Finland, to the north of Finland, very north! where I started working in a ship yard.Let’s face it clearly, the climate is not as Sardinia and Med, but certainly the nature and the view are worth a visit!

After one month from my arrival in Finland, snow mixed with rain came. I started surfing the internet, dreaming a bit, looking for a hypothetical boat to buy, no one knows with which savings, in a possible future. Suddenly I found an advertisement of an old X-79 from 1981, the very first boat of the Danish X-Yachts shipyard, 100 km from home, I was impressed. I took the car, picked up my roommate and left for Vaasa, a town just a bit south from Pietarsaari, Finland, where I was staying. After getting lost in the Finnish countryside outside Vaasa, we finally managed to find the shed, where the little boat was living alone since a long time.

A gentleman with a white beard and visible wrinkles on his face welcomed us; you could actually see that he had sailed a lot in his life! He started telling us all about his adventures at Fastnet regatta and all the boats he had owned. I am visibly impressed, he is a true sailor! Finally, after a long chat, he brings us inside the shed.

I saw the little boat on the cradle and my eyes light up. It is the perfect boat: small, spartan, vintage but at the same time aggressive and designed for racing, very light hull… and it’s called RELAX!

The gelcoat looks good, and the boat is well maintained. I immediately climbed up onto it via a wooden ladder, to go inside to see the interiors of the boat; in that moment in my head, the whole refitting project that I should have had, was already blinking, making me get even more excited.

The owner wanted to get rid of it because the boat took up space in the shed, I would have taken it away in that instant.

I explained him my problems: I did not have the money to buy it immediately and then, one day, if I bought it, I would have to send it by truck to Italy, and this was certainly not convenient.

I greeted him by telling him, that I would think about it and reluctantly, I took the car and went home.

During the following month I called the owner on a regular basis, trying to come to an agreement. After 30 very long days, in which I dreamed of that boat, I managed to reach a compromise, that was the possibility of paying for it step by step during this year.

On June 16th I ran to Vaasa to sign the purchase contract, and it was DONE!

The following days, Relax was put back in the water, after 4 years on land, it doesn’t seem true to go back to sailing!

From that day, every day, after work, I catapulted into the car to Vaasa, where the boat was, doing my daily 200km, in order to do all the necessary works and then be able to sail to Pietarsaari. I spend the following weekends working hard on the boat, also using the Finnish night light to work (yes, in Finland there is light at night in the summer).

In a week, I managed to finish all the works and rig it to do the first sea trial.

We went out for the first time, at sunset, about 10.30 pm, at the end of June, in Finland. There was a light wind, 7-8 knots, and the boat sailed wonderfully! We kept sailing for a couple of hours and even hoisted the Spi, it seemed to be a dream!

Relax was now ready for the 65-mile crossing from Vaasa to Pietarsaari, where she was going to be moored for the following months.


But now comes the big project!

In the summer of 2022, once the Baltic has de-iced and the refitting works has been completed, RelaX will make the crossing of the Baltic: from Finland, sailing south along the Swedish coasts, and arriving to Denmark, up to Haderslev, X-Yacths yard, where this amazing story began. From there my wish was to transport the boat by road to Italy.

1000+ nautical miles of sailing, through 3 countries and the dream of bringing Relax to the Mediterranean!

To make this adventure come true, I would need to make lots of jobs on the boat, changing old deck blocks, rebuilding all interiors, new sails, safety equipments and so on!


April 2022 – getting ready to cross the Baltic

Finnish sea is now almost de-iced. Unfortunately, this year seems to be lazier than usual and the launch of RelaX still seems far away … but I’m not losing my hope!

The long Finnish winter gave me the right amount of time to be able to complete all the refitting works I had planned to do before the trip.

I started by demolishing the old and ugly plastic floor boards and replaced them with an old oak sandwich bulkhead found on site. The result is amazing and gives the interior the right touch, I am very satisfied.

I then proceed with the hydraulic system. I decided to put on RelaX just the essentials to be able to live onboard nicely. I placed a 60L fresh water tank, with a power pump and hand pump (to be able to use the water also if the battery is dead). I installed a hand pump in the bilge, in case of water in the bilge. For the kitchen I have installed two campingaz stoves, in order to be able to cook in comfort. I also installed a round sink with a sea cock. I must say that from these jobs I learned a lot about the hydraulic systems of a boat and I’m grateful for this.

To conclude with the interiors, I had all the cushions and fabrics completely redone, taking up the textures of the 80s fabrics, the result is super. In the bow area I have built the wooden panels to have an extra berth.

On the deck I changed all the broken and old equipment with new parts, I disassembled all the whinches and cleaned them from dust. I built a removable wooden floor for the cockpit and changed all the sheets and halyards. In order to be safe, I decided to redo all the standing rigging, as I couldn’t afford to also change the old mast.

The day of the launch is approaching, and I am more excited than ever. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for a year. I decided to scratch the old antifouling and apply a new coat. Not satisfied, I also began to polish the entire gelcoat of the hull in order to make the boat even more performing. The result is great, the gelcoat has regained the life and shine of the past. RelaX is ready to touch the sea.

May 17th, 2022

The day has come. RelaX is ready. The blue antifouling is dry and the boat is pawing to touch the water in this new wonderful shape. I just hope that my homemade sea catch does not leak! That would be a mess!

With the help of some friends, we finally launched the boat in the afternoon. I ran below deck to see if the seacock would actually have some leakage. Fortunately everything was dry and I was even more satisfied with the work done! In a short time we raise the mast and fine-tune the new rigging. There is a lot of emotions and happiness around us! Now all that remains is to focus on organizing the crossing!



I immediately decided not to do this trip alone. I want to share this experience with people who love the sea and whom I love. I have to find someone quite crazy and adventurous who accepts to have an experience like this .. I immediately think of a friend of mine, Pietro, friend of boat trips and motorbike rides, my namesake (therefore a guarantee), who surely would have said yes to such an adventure. And indeed this was it!

Now I was missing a third member of the crew … I thought about it for a while and one day, all excited, I go to Gloria, my friend and source of energy, with whom I work, and explain the program. She accepts immediately and she is thrilled!

So until Stockholm the crew is set! But unfortunately, Gloria has to leave us once arrived in Stockholm. My friend Fede will take her place in Stockholm. He will join the crew until Copenhagen.

From Copenhagen my mum and my cousin will join the trip till the end! Everyone looks very excited in such a great adventure!

Once the crew(s) are all set, I immediately started making polo shirts and vests with the name of the boat and the X-79 logo, the crew is excited. I also managed to convince Giorgos, my Greek friend, to make at least the first part of the crossing with us, until Sweden, since then he would have to go back to work. The departure date is set for July 30th and I can’t wait.

Two weeks before departure, I started to do a part of the galley, thinking about alcohol, medicines, safety equipment and essential things for the crossing.

Every single day that was passing, the adrenaline of the departure was increasing even more!


It is hard to describe with words how this trip has been for me. So I will do it sharing with you the best pictures and landscapes of this adventure.

We sailed with Relax for 1030 nautical miles, for a total of 23 days, every day with a big smile on our faces. I shared amazing moments of life and sailing with wonderful people, that loves the sea and loves sailing. It has been amazing how this boat has been sailing in every single kind of weather condition, from a light breeze to 30 knots of winds and big waves. I think that you can really have these feelings, just in such small boats, where you are strictly in contact with the sea and where you learn to be respectful towards it and the nature.

We met amazing people all around Sweden and Denmark that gave us good advices. It has been the best present to arrive at the X-Yachts yard and be able to meet the builder of this beauty, Birger Hansen, from whom I learned a lot of this little boat. He had built every single X-79. Now RelaX will be sent to the Mediterranean, thanks to the help from X-Yachts, that gave me the chance to haul out the boat at the yard.


Long life to X-79s!

Keep sailing!