The Gareloch Championship 2023 (12-13th August)

Report from John Campbell (Circe).

Given the summer that we have had it is unremarkable that last weekend was one with a fair amount of rain along with an equal helping of wind. What was also possibly unnoticed was that last weekend a band of some 25 sailors decided to go and sit in the rain and tangle with the wind…for fun! For the eagle eyed of locals, one of the plaques in Colquhoun Square is dedicated to a fleet of boats called the Gareloch One Design fleet. In 1924, 16 of these boats were built at Clynder and now, some 99 years later, they all survive and represent one of the few remaining fleets that are regularly sailed and raced on the Gareloch (let alone the Clyde, or even the country). Their history has seen many of the boats spread around the UK, but in the 1950s they were all brought back to the Gareloch where they now reside.

Every year the class hold a weekend event consisting of 6 races, a lift off party, barbeque and general social events and it was this occasion that was celebrated last weekend. It is rather grandly given the title of the Gareloch World Championships but, given all the boats are only on the Gareloch, you could argue that every race is a world event!

The owners are a lovely group of people, generally from the local Helensburgh area, but some come from as far afield as Glasgow. A number are retired, others fit the sailing around busy careers, and the youngest helm of the weekend has just had her Nat 5 results. They are united in a love for the boats and the competitive racing which, due to the one design class rules, mean that they can be sailed for relatively small amount of money (although they are wooden boats so sometimes require a fair amount of tender sanding and painting!).

The sailing on Saturday started with the first race at 10am in moderately heavy rain and a gusty westerly wind, blowing 18mph with gusts up to 25mph. Racing was officiated by race officers Jean and Reay Mackay on the committee boat “Aquarius”, kindly loaned (and manned) by David Parkins. The starting line was positioned just off Blairvadach Outdoor Centre, generally beating across the loch to the Clynder shore, followed by a run downwind with all spinnakers up. The short courses meant that a good start was required, and with 12 boats racing over the weekend, the start line was congested and the best positions hotly contested. Racing does give a certain competitiveness to the sailing and generally all the races were sailed cleanly although race 4 in the afternoon resulted in a protest. It should be added, that all the boats are named after Greek Goddesses, so names such as Ceres, Athene and Hermes are just a few of the fleet.

At the end of the first day, two boats emerged as contenders. Teal, helmed by Iain MacGillvray and crewed by Ufo Sutter, and Catriona, helmed by Charles Darley and crewed by Lucy Forrester and Niki Horn. Both boats were some 10 points clear of the 3rd place boat, Circe.

On the Sunday, in stark contrast to Saturday, there was very little wind, but still the same amount of rain so racing was delayed whist waiting for the wind to fill in. It did, and racing commenced, but the departure of a submarine from Faslane was a potential problem and its imminent arrival meant that the 6th race of the series was abandoned. Teal had done well on the single Sunday race and therefore confirmed her place as the Gareloch champion for 2023, a very well deserved victory.

Racing for the remainder of the season will now revert to the normal Tuesday evening and Sunday afternoon races and before long the end of the season will sadly arrive. Next year though, the fleet will celebrate their Centenary Celebrations so a full calendar of events is planned and all 16 boats will be afloat and racing.

The Gareloch Class are keen to expand and develop a new generation of crews, skippers and friends. There are opportunities to sail for anyone wanting to find out more, or experience these boats and you never know, if you really enjoy it there are opportunities for ownership, or joint ownership. So if you have an interest in sailing and want to get involved then you can just contact Wendy Jones on 0777 831 0146 and she will be able to get you out on the water, it really is that simple.


Race 1. Catriona, Teal, Circe, Halcyone, Dione, Ceres, Thalia, Hermes, Zephyrus, Athene, Thia

Race 2. Catriona, Teal, Zephyrus, Hermes, Circe, Halcyone, Dione, Thalia, Ceres, Athene, Thia.

Race 3. Catriona, Teal, Halcyone, Hermes, Ceres, Circe, Zephyrus. Athene, This, Dione.

Race 4. Teal, Circe, Hermes, Ceres, Catriona, Zephyrus (subsequently scored NSC), Halcyone, Dione, Athene, Thia.

Race 5. Thalia, Teal, Dione, Catriona, Circe, Halcyone, Ceres, Hermes, Luna, Thia, Zephyrus, Athene

Overall 1 Teal (2 2 2 1 2 = 9pts), 2 Catriona (1 1 1 5 4 = 12), 3 Circe (3 5 6 2 5 = 21), 4 Halcyone (4 6 3 6 6 = 25), 5 Hermes (8 4 4 3 8 = 27), 6 Ceres (6 9 5 4 7 = 31), 7 Dione (5 7 10 7 3 = 32), 8 Thalia, 9 Zephyrus, 10th Equal, Athene and Thia, 12 Luna.