Norway’s Færder snekker constitute a small racing class that hails from outside of Tjøme in the country’s Vestfold region, 55 nautical miles south of Oslo. The two-part name reflects the dual lineage of piloting and fishing that historically defined the island of Hvasser, where the Færder snekker fleet was born and still thrives. The boats are named in part after the Færder Lighthouse, which lies 4 nautical miles southeast of Hvasser. The lighthouse marks the southwestern entrance to Oslofjord, the narrow route north to Oslo. Snekke (the singular form of snekker) refers to the hull shape of the older and smaller sail- and oar-powered working boats used for hunting and fishing along the southern Norwegian coast through the turn of the century.Both piloting and fishing along the Norwegian coast demanded high levels of  seamanship. The drive to be the first to market with a fresh catch or the first out to a passing vessel awaiting a pilot naturally gave rise to a strong spirit of competition among the local population, whose livelihood depended on these trades. Racing workboats for sport was a natural extension of this impulse and informal regattas became a summer pastime in the second half of the 19th century. The Færder Seilforening (Færder Sailing Club) of Hvasser was formally founded in 1897, with an inaugural regatta that year on Midsummer’s Day—the Scandinavian summer holiday marking the summer solstice. Midsummer marks the kickoff for the regatta season to this day, and races are scheduled every other week through September.In the early days of the Færder Seilforening, there was a clear class distinction between the pilots and the fishermen who came together to race in summer. The club officers were aways pilots while the fishermen were ordinary members. Initially, the regatta boats were workboats moonlighting as a racing fleet on Sundays. Most of the local population was either participating or standing watch on the docks as spectators. In black-and-white photographs from the period, children, fisherwomen and pilots’ wives alike are elegantly turned out in their Sunday best along the waterfront, some with pilots’ binoculars around their necks.

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