Report from Teal.
A beautiful warm summer day on shore belied a stiff breeze on the water. And much more northerly than the forecast, funnelling down the Gareloch. The result was a lumpy chop and, combined with a strong flood tide, a strong wind against tide effect. Choppy white waves could be seen in the middle of the loch – where the flood tide stream was strongest – which is unusual for the Gareloch. Garelochs can cope with these conditions but it was full on. Not conditions to relax in. Or perhaps fly spinnakers…
Joining in the fun were Helmut & Gisela Scharbaum, members of Freundeskreis Klassiche Yacht (German Classic Yacht Club/Association) and owners – and builders – of the beautiful Fife-designed gaff-rigged Clyde 19/14 class replica ‘Tringa’ who had been racing in the recent Fife Regatta. The Scharbaums, not Tringa. (More info on ‘Tringa’ here.). Gisela joined Catriona’s crew and Helmut on Teal.
Race officer Charles Darley on Catriona went for course H1: a short beat up the Shandon shore to F, reach across to C (Clynder), then a good long downwind leg to A at the moorings, back to start at Z, with a subsequent round (or rounds) back up to G, then C, then A again. The start however had to be aborted due to a collision between Thalia and Hermes who both retired. (We shall not say too much while they resolve matters – but it appeared based on the end result to be a simple port-starboard!)
Once re-started, Catriona did her best to lead Teal in, but with both of them trying to avoid the other luffing them over, and being slow in the chop, neither made a good start. Halycone, who later admitted she hadn’t even heard the starting signals, nonetheless took the cue and nailed the start to set up a good lead, followed by Dione and with Ceres going well. Halycone led from Dione at the end of the short beat. Catriona and Teal both overstood the mark (the F mark is where G should be!) but Catriona managed to work her way in to 3rd just behind Dione, with Ceres just behind and Teal in 5th.
No places changed in the reach across to C (the only almost relaxing part of the day). Catriona managed to swing wide and made a good rounding of the mark to get on Dione’s wind and, combined with boldly launching her spinnaker (when does Catriona not?), got past in to second. Others kept their spinnakers away given both wind strength and direction (broad reach at best) and didn’t really seem to lose out.
At A, Halcyone led, followed by Catriona, Dione, Ceres, Teal. Circe and Thia following. All the leading pack round and stood on following each other on port tack in to the shallow curved bay between Blairvadach and the moorings. Teal, forced to try and break out rather than simply follow, tacked out. Ceres tacked out too but fell in behind Teal and that was one down. As the leading pack approached the moorings it was clear that Teal has been in luck (better wind and/or tide?) and had closed the gap hugely. Dione chose to tack off below and just ahead of Teal. Catriona crossed Teal but in the choppy conditions even a good tack would have struggled to maintain cover. It was not a good tack judging by the noises from the skipper! At the line and with everyone needing water and to tack, Teal managed to tack ahead of Dione and both forced Catriona to have to tack off. Somehow Teal was in second. Halcyone still leading.
A very short beat up to G, then a reach across to C again and down to A again. As the fleet approached C, Thia now appeared from a very odd direction and the consensus was that she had neglected to round the G mark! She later retired.
Downwind to A, Teal flew a spinnaker to protect against Catriona in 3rd. She regretted it given the reachy nature – and a huge weather helm to prevent broaching – and dropped it early. Everyone except Halycone now knew that it paid to go out L on the beat. And they did. Halycone didn’t cover. Near the line Teal had now almost caught Halcyone. Halcyone repeated Catriona’s exact manoeuvre: she crossed Teal near the line and tacked, but in the choppy conditions tacks were slow and Teal’s momentum carried her through.
If the race had finished now Teal would have just won but had their eye on the clock and an hour had not yet passed, so a 3rd round was required! And again Teal had the advantage of being able to tack inside at the shore and force Halcyone to tack. Teal now controlling the approach to the layline up the short beat. She sailed Halycone past it and tacked ahead. Catriona and Dione chasing Halcyone too. And Ceres staying on the pace.
Once more in to the (b)reach: across to C, down to A, and a final short beat to the finish. The wind had eased now and spinnakers did help those that flew them. At the mark all the leading pack now knew that going out paid. Catriona tacked out. Halycone had learnt her lesson and covered her. Teal covered them both. Dione and Ceres both chasing. All finishing within a minute or so after a long long race.
1 Teal, 2 Halycone, 3 Catriona, 4 Dione, 5 Ceres, 6 Circe / RET Thia / DNS Hermes, Thalia