Thursday 22nd August – Crews Race

Thad Burr is a pilot for Continental. He first sailed in a Gareloch OD a few years ago. He had flown into Glasgow and thought to investigate the sailing scene. He took the train to Helensburgh and walked along the front until he came to the RNCYC jetty where he found Catriona’s crew rushing out, late as usual, and joined them. He comes back when he can arrange his flying schedule to coincide with a race. This is his report on the Crews Race.

Gareloch crews race on 22 August 2013
I had the unique opportunity to not only sail in the Crews Race last week, but actually skipper the Teal, thanks to Iain and Charles. A brief recap of the race, with apologies to my poor memory of events: First, I looked carefully at the forecast weather for the Gareloch area prior to leaving the States, and it confidently predicted “mostly sunny, with temperatures in the low 60’s, and winds out of the East at 5-10 kts”. Therefore, I packed no foul weather gear, and arrived at the RN&CYC ready for a fine day at the beach. Well before the first mark, it was obvious that the only thing correct about the forecast was the wind direction . . .
With no official Race Committee available, Charles “volunteered” to officiate from the decks of the Catriona, and he set an “L3” course for the seven boats competing. With winds out of the East, and blustery, the start was downwind, and the question was how soon to launch the spinnaker. Catriona, helmed by Barrie Choules, and crewed by Charles, immediately set their spinnaker, followed by Teal with myself steering and Iain “advising”, and the rest of the fleet. Not only did the first leg require a lot of concentration in order to keep the spinnaker set properly, the gray sky made it difficult to pick out the “camouflaged” buoys serving as race marks. This proved to be the case during the ensuing legs as well, but having sailed with Charles previously, I told Iain that all we had to do was head in the same direction as Catriona. Bad assumption, as it turns out that Catriona led us down the wrong path on two legs, but later Charles explained that it was all part of their strategy!
By the end of the first leg, Catriona, had a 4 boat length lead, and they never relinquished that lead. Teal was 2nd around the first mark, and continued in that position throughout. Zoe, helmed by Jean Mackay finished third, Hermes, skippered by Mike Lidwell, crossed the finish line in fourth, Ceres, captained by Richard Reeve, came across in fifth, Athene, with Andrew Choules(Barrie’s son) steering, came in sixth, and Thalia, commanded by John Urquhart, retired after failing to give room at the final rounding mark to Zoe.
It was, in my experience, quite a blustery day, with many round-ups, and quite a few debates about the wisdom of setting the spinnaker. There was only one fairly sedate leg (between marks off the western shore), and then we were back into the gusty winds blowing down from the hills to the East. A fine day to be sailing(any day sailing is better than a day at work), and it was an honor and a privilege to be able to not only sail, but to be at the helm, and my thanks again to everyone there at RN&CYC, especially Iain, for allowing me to participate. My lesson of the day was NOT to let out the mainsail during the gusts unless, or until water comes over the rail!

Sincerely, Thad Burr, Southbury, Connecticut, USA