The forecast looked ominously light but at least with racing held on the East Patch if there was any wind we would get the best of it. If we could get there. The tide was also against and in light air getting through the Rhu narrows would be a challenge. As it was the organisers had plenty of capacity for towing between the committee boats and ribs on hand and so out we all headed. And a good turn out it was, with many Sonars – competing for the Scottish Sonar Champs as well as the club cup – and the Pipers also represented. The Gareloch class was a little depleted since three helms (Athene, Catriona and Dione) were all on a Sonar practicing ahead of a trip to Seawanhaka in the US. That left Hermes, Teal, Thalia and Zoe competing.
The race committee, led by Race Office (RO) Simon Pender, set up the course between west Helensburgh and the peninsula with the windward mark somewhere approaching the outer bounds of Culwatty Bay (i.e. between Rosneath and Castle Points). The wind – despite the forecast and the morning’s windless clag – perked up just on time and, while there were the odd changes of direction (W to SW and back) and patchy gustiness, it largely held without ever completely dying and gave us a grand afternoon racing.
In the first race the line was shortish with perhaps a slight pin bias (an RO’s favourite). Teal led Zoe in, and also shut the door on Thalia who was forced to tack away from the committee boat and round behind from which she never quite recovered. Teal and Zoe both hit the line well with Hermes near the committee boat. Teal managed to climb enough on Zoe to be able to tack and head back right to cover Hermes who always likes to try and escape to a corner. Thalia also managed to head right and got past Zoe. The race continued with out much change of places and was shortened after two rounds – albeit with some confusion over the use of the Leeward mark (separate and to windward of the starting line) and a rib – correctly flying the class and S flags – as the finish line. Hermes didn’t spot the shorten course and dropped her spinnaker early to round but still just finished ahead of Thalia.
Race 1 – 1 Teal, 2 Hermes, 3 Thalia, 4 Zoe**
On the second race. The wind had swung SW and start line was very pin biased. Teal and Thalia led in and started well but Thalia had Teal pinned until they hit the port layline and she could not cover Hermes and Zoe who got away to the right. A worry in patchy wind. When the boats met again, Teal was still leading but Hermes and Zoe got in front of Thalia. Back upwind on the second leg Teal was covering Hermes and Zoe. They went left and Teal covered in a good position (despite thinking the wind looked better right). When they went back right, however, Teal relaxed too much and also, thinking to avoid the blanket cover of a fleet of running Sonars, did not immediately cover. A school-boy error. Thalia had managed to sail all the way up the right and was now laughing as she went from last to first – with Zoe and Hermes following up – while Teal dropped from a good lead in to last place. Her crew did a good job keeping her skipper concentrating rather than thinking about his lapse.
Downwind Teal kept left and immediately attacked Hermes to try and get on her wind. Up front however Thalia, perhaps revelling too much in schadenfreude, inexplicably failed to keep the Leeward mark to port and, since the course was shortened and it was the finish line, failed to finish. From first back to last again. Zoe therefore took the win. Further back Teal did manage to overtake Hermes. Thalia eventually came back and rectified her mistake to record a finish.
Race 2 – 1 Zoe, 2 Teal, 3 Hermes, 4 Thalia
For the final race the wind had veered back to a more westerly direction and the line was square. Teal had done the maths (cumulative points: Teal 3, Zoe 5 (with a 1st), Hermes 5, Thalia 7) and knew that Zoe was the boat to cover. From left to right, Hermes, Thalia then Teal. Teal followed in last and controlled the others as windward boat. This done, the others could only tack and then duck her, and she promptly tacked to cover Zoe. Thalia too tacked right to make the shepherding job easier for Teal. Hermes – on real form and with fighting spirit – again found some good wind on the left side and came in on the port layline ahead of the rest. Offwind Teal managed to play the wind and gybes to get left and inside and was then ahead. After the Leeward mark Zoe seemed to have a fankle and Thalia got past. Teal was covering and she didn’t repeat her covering errors and with Hermes following, then Thalia and then Zoe the places did not change further on the 3rd and final leg.
Race 3 – 1 Teal, 2 Hermes, 3 Thalia, 4 Zoe
OVERALL RESULTS 1 Teal (4 pts), 2 Hermes (7), 3 Zoe (9), 4 Thalia (10)
Finally, many thanks to all those who organised and helped, but especially Carolyn Normand as the lead organiser from the Sailing Committee and RO Simon Pender.
**(1st race counting towards Sunday series: 1 Teal, 2 Hermes, 3 Thalia, 4 Zoe)