The forecast caused deliberations. Teal’s skipper and crew exchanged messages. Her crew wisely noted that wind and rain was better than rain and no wind. Thalia decided the forecast potential for 30 knot gusts was too much and decided to keep her powder dry. As Teal’s crew walked down the pier to the moorings her skipper opined that they were sheltered from the (SSE) wind blowing over Rhu’s eponymous spit** and that once away from the sheltered mornings it could be a bit heavier. Indeed.
Five boats rigged and turned out for the start. Charles Darley on Catriona offered to be RO and a suggestion of H4 (ZAFZ) – offering a largely up-down course with good beats and runs – was agreed. The shore end was favoured and the line could could just be laid. Everyone came in on starboard with Catriona leading the lower bunch. Teal came in higher with good momentum on top of Catriona and led in towards the favoured shore end. Everyone tacked. Teal covering Catriona. Which in the gusty shifty wind wasn’t ideal for the covered boat. The wind seemed to head as we headed towards A and the Rhu narrows (perhaps a deflected wind off Tom na h-Airidh provided a lift closer in?) and A couldn’t quite be laid. Teal consolidated rounding first from Catriona. Dione, Halcyone and Hermes following.
The run from A to F (the furthest NE mark) was exciting in strengthening wind and gusts. Teal raised her spinny first on port and then gybed to starboard. Catriona followed. Dione had some fun and admitted “to a fairly significant broach and spinnaker drop that resulted in strings in the wrong places (halyard over the boom)”. But that it “certainly blew the cobwebs away”! Halcyone overtook (but in the strong wind and gusts eventually decided to head in along with Hermes).
Teal rounded F with a good lead on Catriona. And Catriona likewise on the rest. The beat now was in strong gusty wind. The weather helm from the GOD’s large main was noticeable and a full main knocking the boat over wasn’t doing much either; Teal adjusted the rig to balance. Up to Z and then up further to A again. Teal rounded well ahead. Catriona didn’t make things any easier by carelessly letting a trailing spinnaker sheet touch the A mark. Rustiness with the spinnaker was admitted.
Back down on a shorter leg to G and back to Z again. Places well established with Teal from Catriona from Dione. Teal crossed the line within an hour and realised that, with only an on-the-water RO and no option to shorten, a THIRD round was required by the rules. With boats strung out whether this was good or bad news depended on one’s love of racing and/or weather hardiness.
No places changed hands as the remaining boats – Teal, Catriona, Dione – went once again to A and then G and then back to the finish line at Z.
Ashore later Teal’s skipper looked at the actual weather data from the Met Office and it had indeed been gusting up to 30 knots***. Mostly good if wet fun.
1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Dione
Halcyone, Hermes DNF
** Rhu is an anglicisation of Gaelic “rubha” (pronounced roo-ah), literally meaning “(geographical) point/promontory/headland”.
*** …or at least at the weather station at Bishopton at the top of a 10m pole.