Offshore racing vs dingy racing with Julia Gross

During the Christmas weekend, we have a chat with Julia Gross who is in the middle of her Olympics preparations in the 49erFX dingy together with Hanna Klinga.

Although most people in the sailing community probably know who you are by now, can you give a short presentation of you and your relationship to sailing.
I started sailing when I was eight years old at KSSS in Saltsjöbaden and have spent many hours on Baggensfjärden. For the past seven years, I have sailed professionally, and we are currently focusing on our Olympic campaign in 49erFX for Tokyo later in 2021. Sailing has always been a big part of my life, both through racing but also through being a part of KSSS camp activities at Lökholmen. Right now, I am a member of the KSSS Activity Committee, which among other things works to get more women to sail and get involved in the sport of sailing.

When you think of Gotland Runt, what do you think of then?
Adventure, joy and fellowship. When I was younger, I often checked out the Gotland Runt start and cheered on my dad (Thomas Gross), where the crew that always came back with exciting stories from the race. I also think of the incredible excitement in the race village, the days before the start where everyone is preoccupied with the final preparations. On some boats, tactics and strategy are perfected, on others it is more important that the dinner menu is well prepared.

You have sailed one Gotland Runt, tell us a little about your experiences?
I sailed Gotland Runt in 2015 with the crew and the race included everything I could wish for. We had a really bumpy up-wind down towards Hoburgen, a complete lull outside Gotska Sandön, magical sunrises, wonderful discussions on the rail at sunset and when we after 58 hours at sea found a secret supply of chocolate bars, the thrill was total. We did not win the race, I actually do not even know how we finished, but at the regatta dinner it felt like we all were winners.
(Ed: Find all results from 1993 - 2019 here)

What do you think is the difference between tight dingy racing and offshore racing?
I thought the hardest part was finding the right level of competitiveness. In dingy racing, you work for every millimeter all the time, but if the race is to take place around the clock, you will not be able to do that. At the same time, there is competition all the time and it is important to keep the concentration up. On the other hand, you experience our stunning nature much more during offshore racing, where you really are close to the elements for two days straight. Then it is very different to keep track of the competitors via an iPad instead of having them in close to leeward. I am a big fan of the start being in town, as the inshore part through the archipelago between all the islands was absolutely fantastic. It was tight between the boats, a lot of close tactics (and screams) and when we passed Sandhamn and the boats dispersed, a different kind of sailing begun. I will never forget that feeling.

Will there be more Gotland Runt?
There will definitely be more Gotland Runt! In recent years, the dates have been clashing with my racing schedule in the FX, but my Gotland Runt career has only just begun.

What happens in the future, what adventures await you?
Right now, it is a full commitment to the Olympics where we currently are down in Italy where the Swedish team train with the Italians. After the Olympics, I hope to do more offshore racing, team sailing and local dingy racing. I plan to finish my law degree and then we'll see what adventures and projects I'm going to tackle next!

We thank Julia for the chat and hope that we get to see her on the waters around Gotland after she won a noble medal at the Olympics for KSSS and Sweden. All the best with the FX campaign and welcome back to Gotland Runt when the time is right!

Iohn Ryott
KSSS Information Committee