Gareloch Championship – 23rd & 24th July

Report from the Secretary.

The Premier sporting and Social event of the season. Superb lift off party on Friday evening, thrown by Paul Blackburn. Incomparable barbecue at Carol Rowe’s Kilarden on Saturday evening. The barbecue first of all would not light, then burned with more vigour than was strictly necessary.

Race Officer Tim Henderson, aboard Dave Parkins’ Aquarius and assisted by Roger Kinns and Peter Proctor was pleased with the consistent direction of wind. Crews, though noticed variability. Especially near to the Clynder shore. Anyway, it was Champagne wind all weekend. Even if the rain lacked sparkle.

That variability led to a pin end bias for the first start. Catriona got the timing right and was away whilst the rest, all trying to start at the pin, were blanketing each other. Dione finished a strong second from a charging Hermes.

For the second race, the peloton had learned to start so that places changed on the first beat. The order was soon established with Dione second from a strong Teal, then Hermes. Sadly, Teal’s crew suffered acute back pain so that she was unable to finish that race or to continue in the event. It was clear now that something was amiss with Ceres, She had been last by a margin in the first two races. That problem was marine growth around the keel. Not helped by a technical issue with her main halyard which affected luff tension.

The third race had just one round. Dione started well and held the lead at the windward mark. Downwind she had an issue with the spinnaker. Its effect compromised, Catriona was able to get on her air and sneak past approaching the line. Halcyone made progress against Hermes, who had beaten her to third place in the first races.

For the fourth and last of the day, the Race Officer changed to a normal Gareloch course, started from the C mark. Thus, he was able to finish us at A, off the club. The fleet became spread. Dione and Halcyone tussled going downwind. Dione had the lead at G, which began a reach across the loch to C. With no scope for overtaking her lead became secure. Halcyone evened her score against Hermes.

More precipitation on Sunday morning, still good wind though. Athene was forced to withdraw, a shroud having come adrift from its crosstree. Afloat just before the event, she was laying a creditable sixth on Saturday evening.

Tim Henderson sent us from G, a little up the Shandon shore, to B, off Silvers. The direction of wind indicated the shore end of the line was favoured. Only Catriona went for that, the rest at the outer, committee boat, end where wind was a little stronger. Catriona was faced with having to duck some of the fleet when she tacked out from the shore. The long tack to the Clynder shore was not good for confidence, there were some large headers, but it paid. Similarly the changeable air off that shore should have been a disadvantage but it turned out not to be. Those who stuck to the Shandon shore needed binoculars to see the leaders.

Downwind, there were gusts and much of the time wind was dead astern. Some did not set spinnakers and had a good view of spectacular rocking and rolling. Dave Perry advises, in his excellent Winning in One Designs, if the rocking becomes too much, head up a little, ease the spinnaker pole forwards and pull in the main. If you want to go fast, reverse the above.

At the end of the first round the order at the front, as in other races, was Catriona, Dione, Hermes, Halcyone. Halcyone had the bit between her teeth, in the second round she battled with Dione downwind to the finish. Dione thought she should have defended more to keep her air clear. Anyway, Halcyone finished ahead by one second.

The course was the same for the sixth and final race. Wind had backed a little so that the inner end of the line was more clearly the place to start. Catriona, in the charge of Lucy Forrester, was in pole position with the fleet closer this time. She was considering calling for room to tack away from the shore when Halcyone, on her hip, tacked anyway. Then she was to windward of the fleet and the lead was more or less settled. There was a second beat to B, where Tim finished us. Dione found some large lifts on the way to the Clynder shore which eluded Catriona. She did the same along the shore and at one point looked to have the lead. That was just for the moment, though, when the swing was to Dione’s greatest advantage. Halcyone kept Hermes at bay to take third.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Halcyone, 4 Hermes, 5 Circe, 6 Thia, 7 Athene, 8 Ceres, 9 Luna, 10 Teal. The fine silver rowlock, awarded to the last placed boat which had finished all the races, went to Ceres.