(Guest report from Teal.)
The forecast was for reasonable wind from SW to W. Any wind would be good given the season we have been having. At the moorings however encouraging gusts seemed to die away and we were left with light winds. Light but there.
Teal volunteered to be on-the-water RO and resisted the urgings for a longer classic Gareloch course given the winds. Initially considering “an H course” caused understandable splutterings from Dione until your ROs engaged their brains and explained that they meant an S course *to* H not an H type course (High/strong wind). Eventually a wind shift to the SW prompted the ROs to settle on an S course to B. A simple Z-B sausage course.
(The standard courses are described as Light and Heavy Air courses but, in this author’s opinion, S courses should be thought of as *light* air and used without feeling they are inferior, the current L courses *fair* wind, and the H courses for really good strong wind!)
The start was bunched at Z given the biased line. Catriona leading in as usual. Teal followed through slightly late but high and tacked towards Clynder to clear her air. Both anticipating that the ebbing tide would be taking us down the loch anyway and that the dark cloud to the west looked like wind must be forthcoming from it! Catriona tacked to cover – the rest of the fleet following – but Teal pulled ahead as she got the good air first. The wind now filled in but extremely patchy with Teal lucky in the best of it. She tacked to head down to B – and avoid getting too close to the Clynder shore – but had to cross an area that was millpond calm. Catriona brilliantly worked her way up round the edge of the hole in wind and managed to get on top. Her skipper – Charles Darley – wrily noted that this was classic Gareloch sailing! The rest of the fleet were taking advantage too, led by Thalia – going well this season generally – who was charging up underneath Teal. Teal couldn’t make an overlap stick on Catriona and Catriona rounded first, followed by Teal and then Thalia.
The wind had now backed to a NNW-erly blowing almost straight down the loch. The “downwind” leg was now almost beating: the Z mark just couldn’t quite be laid. Teal was almost managing it though with Catriona sailing lower (slightly different wind?). Catriona tacked to cross but – despite having starboard and Teal footing to duck – for some reason tacked to lee-bow Teal. When Teal looked like she would manage to sail over her Catriona again footed lower and sailed in to Aldonaig bay (between Blairadach and club moorings). The wind headed both Catriona and Teal – and Catriona might have hoped to tack and cross Teal on a wonderful lift – but the wind reverted and Catriona tacked out in huge header that lifted Teal towards Blairvadach. Teal tacked and rounded Z many boat-lengths clear. Cruel luck.
The race was now sadly a case of reaching but at least in good wind. The strong shower that accompanied it was less good and made for tough conditions for those not dressed for it. Two boats – with guest crews – retired around this point!
Round B again and then back to Z. Catriona again pointing lower but not benefiting (perhaps attempting to sail lower and faster?). Depending on your love of sailing it was now either a good or bad thing that Teal was going to cross the line within the hour time limit and we were going to have to do a *third* lap! Catriona followed.
Halcyone had now made good gains and was chasing Catriona who was having to defend her wind on the reach down to B. Dione close behind. On the final beat to Z Dione started in turn to threaten Halcyone’s wind and Halcyone luffed defensively and aggressively right up to windward. Unfortunately Halcyone overcooked it and tacked. Her penalty turns cost her the place and she then had to keep an eye on Ceres who was keeping in the mix.
The wind again died away somewhat just as the race was finishing and while the race had had too much reaching we had been lucky with some actual wind!
1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Dione, 4 Halcyone, 5 Ceres
Luna & Thalia DNF