The Gareloch Worlds 2017 (Sat 22 – Sun 23 July)

A belated view from our resident German correspondent.

Winning a race is not to be sneezed at, winning a series is good fun, as is winning the passage race but there is little that stands quite up to the Gareloch Worlds. Hulls get scrubbed, gear gets checked, it is not rare to get mercenary crew for the event, indeed in the past whole boats have been lend out to able crew to participate in the prestigious event. Rumour has it that sails get ironed the night before.

While the Worlds usually start on a high with an often exquisite cocktail party there was little to rival this year’s Friday entertainment with Dione joining the fleet after a tremendously successful restoration by Tim Henderson and Bill McLaren supported by a host of volunteers. The evening saw Dione’s proud owner formally taking her over celebrated by a large crowd of guests in Rhu Marina.

Saturday it was back to business: The Gareloch is blessed with a glorious wind – that is on average. Sometimes there is none and on times it blows. Saturday greeted with one of the blustery settings. Crews would be tested and helms tired. Race Officer Jean McKay on Blue Iris sent the fleet racing across the Loch. The Gareloch Worlds started much according to expectations. Catriona seemed to reign supreme. A first in the first race followed by a first in the second race seemed to set the tone for the Worlds 2017. Teal cemented a solid second with a two and a two followed by Zoe who took third in the first race but had to settle for fourth behind Zephyrus in the second race. The class is blessed in that it is competitive all through the fleet. Hermes and Ceres ended the first two races on equal points, Thalia had started strong and lost out to turns inflicted through a protest in the second race. Athene and Thia closely battled for points. Dione ably sailed by her restorers proved to be a fine addition to the fleet and then withdrew. It would not have done to overtax her fine gear in front of her new owner’s eyes.

The Gareloch Worlds are about much more than sailing skills. Tensions showed and nerves frayed. The races after the lunch break saw Zoe in supreme form taking a first and a first out of two races. Teal kept consistent form adding another two and the three to her tally. Catriona added a third and a fourth with however a start-line incident looming over her, Zephyrus kept close contact to the leading trio with a fourth and a second place.  Thalia made ground good on her unfortunate second race and crept up through the ranks with a fifth and a fourth place. Hermes matched Teal’s performance in showing excellent consistency cementing her place in the middle. Athene improving from race to race kept pressure on Thia while Ceres crew struggled with unfamiliar gear.

Showing the competitiveness and skill present in the class the evening saw the three leading boats separated by the small print in the rules rather than points. On equal points Zoe was leading on her two firsts in the third and fourth race over Catriona having taken firsts in the first two races with Teal in third on equal points. Zephyrus kept close with a chance. The mid field was closely contested between Thalia and Hermes with Athene, Thia and Ceres sailing the rear guard.

The traditional Saturday evening barbeque this time at the Proctor’s provided a feast for tired sailors and excited onlooker alike.

The Gareloch is blessed with fine average winds. Having expended all the allowance already on Saturday there were glassy patches on Sunday. Crews rigged for light running taking out triple and double purchases and swapped to light lines. Race officer Jean McKay did her best to search for a sensible course and after a bit of waiting a Zephyr of wind allowed for a race to start off the mooring towards the G mark. The Gareloch in light winds can be as much exhilarating as it can be cruel. Hermes took an excellent line all along the Shandon shore with the rest of the fleet searching for wind more or less far out into the Loch. Boots seemed to prosper for minutes only to fall back when the wind failed them. Progress was slow. Supreme skills in light wind sailing allowed Catriona to creep through the fleet for a first. Hermes gained a well earned second with Teal taking third claiming that one important point from Zoe coming in fourth place. Closing an excellent campaign Zephyrus took fifth to take an overall fourth. Fighting the rear action Thia managed to claw back points on Athene.

The Gareloch Worlds are as much about sailing well as they are about sailing well under pressure. Bowing out to a misjudgement Catriona retired from the third race. That left Teal taking the crown on 12 points, closely chased by Zoe on 13 with Catriona taking third with 15. Zephyrus on fourth with 19 and Hermes having claimed fifth with her great final race for a total of 25. Thalia followed on 28, Ceres on 36, Thia on 38 and Athene on 39.

1 Teal (12 points), 2 Zoe (13), 3 Catriona (15), 4 Zephyrus (19), 5 Hermes (25), 6 Thalia (28), 7 Ceres (36), 8 Thia (38), 9 Athene (39)