Five days and nights sailing and orienteering - with a few TV interviews thrown in for good measure

In eight knots of breeze and overcast conditions, twenty-two Formula-18 catamarans (two-man 18ft-long racing cats) set off from the heart of Stockholm for the eighth edition of the gruelling Archipelago Raid.

Ellen MacArthur skippering BT Formula 18 lined up alongside a wide variety of monohull and multihull professionals plus some local teams for the six-day five-night sailing and orienteering challenge.

Formula 18-specialist Eric Proust and his partner Romain Motteau on Team Kalix from France were first over the line, but the fleet kept close together when heading to the first checkpoint.

Solo sailor Conrad Humphries on Team Blue Oceans (UK) is back for the second time and was looking forward to starting the race: “We’re very excited, it’s nice to be here. The Raid is a beautiful combination between race and environment, which are my two passions. It’s good to be here for the second time, we know more or less what to expect, we’re more prepared.”

The race
Throughout the race there are several legs to complete with a number of checkpoints at each leg. Teams are not allowed to use electronic chartplotters, although GPS is mandatory. No outside assistance is allowed, but paddles must be carried (and may be used). The location of the next checkpoint is given to the teams at the end of each leg. Some of the checkpoints require a team member to go ashore for a set period of time – including some three-minute stops specifically designed to enable film crews to conduct short interviews. The results are based on a points system determined by the arrival position of each leg with bonus points to the winner of each check point.

Today the competitors are sailing from the city centre of Stockholm to the island of Lido in the north-eastern part of the archipelago of Stockholm. During the day they shall complete two legs, passing five checkpoints. Match racing specialists Martin Sandberg and Johan Örtendahl on Team Thule managed to pass the French duo on Team Kalix and were first to complete the first leg of the day.

The teams will have a short night stop at Lido, hopefully fitting in a couple of hours of sleep. The restart is set tomorrow morning at 03.00 to head off towards the autonomous islands of Åland, between Sweden and Finland, passing a 33 mile open stretch of the Baltic Sea.

Keep up with the latest on this extraordinary sailing and orienteering challenge at