Meet an X-Sailor - Rikard Roth

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Вторник 25th Январь 2022

XAR was born 

I am 60 years old and have sailed for more than 50 years. I started on the beaches of Falsterbo in the south of Sweden, with a Trissjolle and through the years sailed If-boat and Luffe 37. In 2005 I wanted something more modern. I was looking for a one type boat like the X-35, therefore I travelled to the yard in Haderslev. Meeting the CEO Lars Netterström changed everything. Lars thought that the X-43 would be better for us and why not, it was much bigger and nice looking. Right there, XAR was born.

Up to 2012, the X-43 was a delight to cruise and race. Then the ARC plans became a reality, with a larger boat in play. The X-43 was traded for a Dutch X-50. The years 2013 and 2014 was spent far away in the Caribbeans. When I came home again, I realized that 14 tons of luxury yacht, would be problematic for me, during the shorthanded races. I made a quick trade with X-Yachts and 2015 started with a brand-new Xp 44 Alu rig. The Xp 44 was just as fast as the X-50, but a lot easier to handle by myself or twohanded.

In 2020 my bigger brother by 1,5 years passed away tragically. This led me to think about my future with sailing. I wondered, why not try to ask X-Yachts for a very special Xp 44. It was a fantastic moment in May 2021 to take delivery of a very special XP-44, the new XAR and my fourth X-Yacht.

The Xp 44 is not a recent design, but it gives the impression of one. The hull indicates very well the performance in nearly all conditions. To improve further, the new XAR has a carbon rig, optimized keel and rudders from CPerformance in Copenhagen. It also has enforced foredeck, to allow a 28 m2 staysail upwind, bob-stay to allow Code0 in front. For easy sailing all the winches are electrical. It has clutches on the mast for halyards, to simplify shorthanded sailing. All in all, it makes sailing by myself easy.

I enjoy the way the boat accelerates and once the numbers are up it stays there with small manoeuvres on the wheel. I feel very safe in all weather conditions. With the new keel and rudder, I can easily handle 20 knots upwind without reefing.

During the 16 years with different X-Yachts, we have been through many adventures. Nearly all are happy memories, even if I have one major incident, which I will come back to.

I tried to fill up the X-43 with a full crew in 2006 and 2007. Like many experiences, this is not an easy task these days. The crew sometimes came and sometimes other priorities led to having problems finding crew. This is at the beginning of the twohanded era. Watski2Star in Helsingør (Denmark) became popular and this led me to change focus to shorthanded sailing.

The beauty of shorthanded sailing

There is a beauty in sailing shorthanded. First of all, it is difficult to find a full crew for racing. Second of all, it gives simple planning, one email and a confirmation from a friend lets you enter races. Shorthanded sailing gives the satisfaction in handling all the needs, to make the boat go fast all the time. Also, the loss in performance compared to full crew sailing is not as big as you could expect. This is seen all the time with twohanded crew beating the fully crewed ones in major races. Furthermore, less food and drinks are required, and of course, there is plenty of space with one head each.

A lot of memorable X-Moments throughout the years

Sailing the Watski2Star from Helsingør to Anholt in 2009, became a success for us. The new investment in a Code0 paid off, on the way to Anholt. Together with a night of hard reaching back with spinnaker, saw us beating all the competition in our class. Many of the other boats selected the Code0 during the night and this was easier sailing, but not as fast.

One other memorable race was Watski2Star Oxelösund in 2012. The race always takes place in late May. Nice summerlike conditions, with just a few hours of darkness, is normally the case. Into the last leg from Oskarshamn to Oxelösund, we met a rough 25-35 knots of headwinds and had another 80 miles to go. Not a major issue if the temperature did not also drop dramatically. It was snowing in Stockholm that evening. Pushing hard with 2 reefs and a jib, we did not see many boats during the night. We managed to secure 2nd place in our class, which made us very happy.

Already in 2009, I dropped the idea of ARC during a night out in Warnemünde. It became a large project especially during 2012 and 2013. While switching to a bigger boat, took time and effort. It was a fantastic moment when my son and 5 of the 9 final crew travelled to Bruinesse in Holland to bring the boat home in late March 2013. Normally spring was supposed to start at that time, unfortunately, this was not the case. Antifouling in 3 degrees and snowy conditions. Leaving Bruinesse and 2 days later reaching the Kiel Canal was great, still cold and ice in the canal. The rest of the year was spent preparing and getting the boat down to Las Palmas. The whole ARC is an experience like a few others. But the time when the mobiles started to connect to Martinique and we could see St. Lucia up ahead, is the moment when time stops. This is when sailing is at its best. We had a vote on, what was the most important equipment on board during the crossing, the winner was the Nespresso machine with a stock of over 2500 capsules. The second was the WattandSea hydrogenator, which kept us fully charged without the need for the Panda generator.

Putting singlehanded racing on the agenda

In 2015, with the new Xp 44, I came to talk to a Swedish guy in Dragør about singlehanded sailing. Up to that point, this was not on my agenda. We talked about Silverrudder, 135 M around the Danish island Fünen, which already in June was sold out for the race taking place in September. It took some weeks and then the decision was made, lets try it. William Friis Møller contacted Morten Brandt and helped me to get a cancelled spot. What an experience, the beating upwind into the night, north of Fünen is legendary. I have now participated in all the Silverrudder races since 2015 and would have finished 7 times if things did not go the wrong way.

2020 was a light wind year that saw the majority of the boats dropping out, me among them.

How to test the X-Yachts quality

The “incident” happened in 2018. A heavy wind race was expected. The start was delayed 24 hours, with the hope of abiding winds. This was not to happen. The start was with hairy upwind, 20+ knots. I managed to avoid hitting the bridge and not going too far into shallow water, during the 2 first hours. To make things more problematic, the long fat furls batten was leaving the sail. I was trying to fix this and after hard work, it looked as if it would stay in the sail. While relaxing and drinking, the next problem arrived with 40 knots gusts. Overpowered with 1 reef and rolled jib more problems started. I decided to tack at 4 m depth. I started to tack and suddenly it was only 2,5 m and I was not coming around. Then I was stuck, no way with engine or sails to get off the ground in 30-40 knots of wind.

Lyngby Radio helped get Marine Home Guards to my location. After several trials to get a rope to the boat, it was decided to leave the boat and arrange a tugboat as soon as possible. This was possible the morning after when the wind had calmed down. Fortunately, I am happy to say, that X-Yachts quality of build is a reality, and this was evident when looking at the damage Monday morning in Haderslev. All management showed up to see the result. There was rudder damage on the bottom, and it needed to be replaced, also one side of the keel was sandblasted. But the sailing season was finished, concluded service boss Niels Ebbesen.

Getting back on the racing course

Another memorable race was the Round Denmark Race, singlehanded in 2019. I was trying to get back after the “incident” the previous year and this 500 M race proved to have it all, from no wind to gale winds. To finish after 5 days of intense racing and a total of 4 stops to sleep a few hours was fantastic. I did not win but it felt great anyway. The new special Xp 44 shows promise in the races in 2021, even if no podium results were achieved.

The future for XAR

The coming season in 2022 sees a full plan of twohanded and singlehanded sailing, in Scandinavia and Germany. There are several tough challenges close by, starting with the twohanded Baltic500 (Kiel), Offshore round Denmark race single 750 M (Esbjerg), ORC Double Handed World Championship Gotland Runt 350M (Stockholm) being the major ones.

I am lucky to have a friend in Lars Jörnvi who is just as keen to go for these adventures as I am. We have been sailing together for 12 years now and hopefully for many more years.

Every summer we have 2-3 weeks of family cruising all around Scandinavia and northern Poland and Germany. When the kids were smaller we enjoyed getting to destinations with handball and football tournaments.

Our homeport Falsterbokanalen is around 140 M from X-Yachts in Haderslev. This makes it easy to take a few days off and get help from the experts at the yard. It is always a pleasure to engage the Haderslev fjord and finally arrive at the yard, maybe not so much in the dark though. The rather recent involvement by X-Yachts in the worlds largest singlehanded race the Silverrudder is very much appreciated. There are many X-Yachts being in Svendborg for the race and this is an excellent place to learn more about what we shorthanded sailors are talking about.