Author Archives: Gareloch

Tuesday 25th July

The Gare Loch was attractive in the sunshine with glassy water and moving patterns of ripples. That is all very well but does not encourage sailing. The Sonars stayed ashore, the Pipers came to the starting area and went back. The Garelochs stayed a while and told themselves there was wind, but not enough to start a race.

Eventually, there was sufficient sustained pressure for On the Water Race Officer Carol Rowe to send us on a short windward/leeward course down and back up the loch. Teal and Catriona led into the starting line. Teal a little early, Catriona taking care not to get to windward and be pushed over the line.

The two set off down the loch in the best of the air. Catriona edged ahead in slightly more favourable tide. Others, who went for better tide further out in the loch, suffered from lack of pressure. Thia also beneffited from sailing closer to the shore.

Downwind to the finish spinnakers were set but gravity was their dominant influence.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Thia, 4 Hermes, 5 Ceres, 6 Thalia.

“Welcome Dione”

The Gareloch One Design Dione after its three year rebuild was formally relaunched by Gordon Mucklow, President of the Class Association at Rhu Marina on Friday 21st. Retired Royal Navy engineer Bill McLaren who led the rebuild had dressed the yacht with Navy signal flags which read “Welcome Dione”.

Relaunch with Dione dressed in signal flags

Relaunch with Dione dressed in signal flags

Peter Proctor, Class Convenor, welcomed the many guests to the relaunch. Current and former Gareloch sailors and owners were well represented. Many from the wider sailing community attended. Friends from the other classic classes the Mersey Mylnes, Howth 17s and the Yorkshire One Designs were there. Dorothy McGruer, one of the last surviving members of the McGruer family who built the Garelochs in 1924 was there. Several former owners of Dione attended, including Donald Hardie who owned Dione in 1958-59.

Guests at the Dione relaunch event

Guests at the Dione relaunch event

The former owner and former boat builder who started the restoration some thirty years ago was there – David Spy. He had made two half models of Dione at the request of the Class Association. David owned and restored several Garelochs and worked extensively on ten of them. David is now a highly regarded model maker with many clients across the UK and in the US. One of his models is on display in the New York Yacht Club.

Presenting the half models to Bill Mclaren and Tim Henderson, Peter Proctor said: “Words cannot express our gratitude for what you have achieved in this rebuild. It seemed at times, especially in the later stages, you had no alternative life, I have been overwhelmed by your dedication to the project.”

Presentation of half models

Presentation of half models

Bill accepting the models joked that “both he and Tim now felt like fathers handing over their daughter in marriage, on the one hand relieved to see the back of her after the torrid teenage years, but also anxious that she would be properly looked after.” Dione’s new owner Barry Choules made all the proper promises.

Rhu Marina have been a key supporter of the project and the Class, their Yard Manager, Eddy Young presented the new owner with the “keys” to Dione, and a small box of sawdust. When the Garelochs are lifted back into the water in the Spring it is an anxious time, they often leak badly initially. Gareloch owners and the Marina crew have developed a technique for holding sawdust over the leak until the water sucks it in and the leak stops.

Presentation of sawdust

Presentation of sawdust

Dione won the first ever Gareloch Class race in 1924 under her first owner Agnes Stephen of the Stephen shipbuilding family. Agnes’ nephew, Sandy Stephen, spoke at the relaunch. He remembered Agnes’ generosity in sharing Dione with her nieces and nephews. He had sailed on Dione as a child in the 1930s and remembered many happy times.

Sandy Stephenson shares memories of Dione in the 1930s

Sandy Stephen shared memories of Dione in the 1930s

An exhibition on Agnes Stephen had been mounted at the relaunch. Agnes was one of the first women to receive an economics degree from Cambridge University. She trained at Glasgow School of Art and was an artist of some ability. She trained in social work and worked with the Women’s settlement in Anderton. In later life she was a Girl Guide Commissioner, and County and District Councilor. Agnes presented the prizes at the Class’ 50th anniversary in 1974. She died in 1989.

Dione joined the first race of the Gareloch Annual Championships on Saturday 22nd. The conditions were difficult with strong gusty winds, grey skies and rain. She acquitted herself respectably in Tim and Bill’s hands. She made a good start, up there with the leaders. Peter Proctor commented after the racing that “it was a fitting climax to three years dedication and hard work. It was great to see Dione back on the water”

Photos by Don MacLean
For further pictures visit our gallery page

Tuesday 18th July

It seems we have had wind blowing from the Shandon shore frequently this year. So it was again. Race Officer Alan Yendell was constrained to setting a course beginning with a reach to A, off the club. The upshot, the perfect start was at the pin end of the line with speed. Only Hermes achieved that. Zoe had speed but a little further along the line. The rest of us were either blanketing each other or had slowed to avoid premature starting.

Zoe was the first to A with Hermes very well placed for the run downwind to C, off Clynder. She did not set a spinnaker so that was that. A charge from Thia on the first leg faded. Halcyone was in front of Teal, who is always a contender.

Slick spinnaker work from Zoe’s crew, Simon Jackson, ensured she kept her lead to the downwind mark. Skill from crew on Catriona, Laura Cammidge, kept the gap small.

The windward leg to the finish was the best Alan could have selected. Zoe and Catriona separated on different tacks. When they came together again, starboard advantage and a lift in the wind at the key moment put Catriona in front. Halcyone had kept Teal at bay. There was time for a second, similar, round. On the downwind leg, Halcyone had trouble with her spinnaker, which allowed Teal to pass.

1 Catriona, 2 Zoe, 3 Teal, 4 Halcyone, 5 Thalia, 6 Hermes, 7 Athene, 8 Thia.

The Goddess Dione returns

The racing yacht Dione built in 1924 will be launched at a reception at Rhu Marina on Friday 21 st July at 6pm. Dione will rejoin the fleet of 16 Gareloch One Designs (GODs) sailing and racing on the Gareloch at the Annual Championships on 22 and 23 July. Dione hasn’t been afloat for nearly 35 years and missed the 90th anniversary of the class when the rest of the fleet mustered and raced in the Gareloch. Most of the GODs are named after Greek Goddesses.

Peter Proctor, Convenor of the Gareloch Association explained.

“Dione didn’t make an appearance in 2014. After that the Association acquired her with a view to restoring her. She was in bits, but under cover, so basically sound. We didn’t know how we would get her back together and sailing, we just knew we should try.

“Retired Royal Navy engineer Bill McLaren stepped forward and volunteered to lead the work. Then Tim Henderson stepped up, thinking he should help his cousin Bill and the class he had been involved with since childhood. Both are former Gareloch owners. Between them they put in most of the 1500 hours involved, but the local sailing community also made a massive contribution – labour, technical expertise, parts and equipment.”

In 1923 the Gareloch Yacht Club formed after the First World War decided they needed a yacht suitable for racing. They asked McGruers, based along the Gareloch at Clynder, to design and build 10 boats. The boats were delivered in spring 1924 and allocated by ballot to the owners, before being painted the many colours which are still a feature of the Class.

The Royal Forth Yacht Club took a liking to the Garelochs when they were under construction and had five built in early summer 1924. They branded their boats Royal Forth One Designs. A 16 th and final Gareloch was built in 1928 for a Clyde owner. Over the next decade some of the Clyde Garelochs migrated to the Forth and Aldeburgh in Suffolk. But in the mid 1950s a series of events led John Henderson, Tim’s uncle, to achieve his “pipe dream”, he brought all the Garelochs back home. This meant that sixty years ago, in 1957, and for the first time, all the boats raced together on the Gareloch. That year more Garelochs raced at Clyde Week than ever before.

Peter Proctor commented. “I think these 93 year old Garelochs are unique as a class of classic yachts. All the Garelochs ever built are still here and sailing on the waters they were designed for. It is fantastic that Dione will be rejoining the racing at the Annual Championships. Her return is a great credit to the members of the Association, the local sailing community, but especially to Bill and Tim who made it possible.”

For further details see the Restoration Pages on this website.

Tuesday 11th July

Guest report from Teal

A difficult evening for the Race Office (RO) with wind from the east (and shifty and variable!). The RO eventually selected course L3 with a downwind start from Y to D that should have allowed some beating on legs back. Most boats seemed wary of beating in to Y given the shifts and the risk of headers, and opted to run in from closer to the shore. With the exception of Hermes who came in on the beat and hit Y bang on time. The others approach higher and more downwind, Teal and Halcyone leading. Teal was the best of the bunch as she approach the line with Halcyone just below and behind. Hermes sailed on before bearing away above Teal.

So Hermes and Teal leading – depending on the wind shifts – with Hermes higher but behind and Halcyone challenging. Thalia following and finding good wind and going strongly, climbed up on Halcyone and Hermes to attempt to pass. Catriona a long way back after a poor start – but now with good wind – attempted to go low and attempt to undercut the fleet and looked dangerous for a while but the wind eased and started to benefit the higher boats and her challenge faded again somewhat.

At this point the Gareloch and its wind had a change of plan and, perhaps influenced by a large black cloud behind the peninsula, dropped and then swung through 180 degrees to head the fleet and turn the leg in to a beat to D! Kites had to be dropped. Catriona closer to the Clynder shore – and theoretically higher – again looked good but in practice the boats further out in the loch had better wind. Teal leading. As they headed back on starboard towards the Clynder shore Catriona had to duck Hermes. Hermes tacked to cover but had to then tack for Teal. At this point Teal decided to loosely cover Catriona rather than Hermes and Hermes managed to find some better wind to get in to the lead. Catriona tacked and headed back to the Clynder shore where she found a large hole and never really figured in contention again. The approach to D was characterised by light variable wind, occasional streaks and strong ebb tide taking boats approaching D sideways down the loch. Hermes round first with a good lead, then Teal, then Thalia. Now to G across the loch.

Hermes did not manage to get her spinnaker up quickly, whereas Teal did, and used it to make the most of the wind and catch up. Thalia also following strongly. At this point – with the leading 3 boats in the middle of the loch and the pack back around the D mark – the Gareloch and wind again had other ideas! Which was for the wind to AGAIN swing 180 degrees, now directly from the G mark. Just as Hermes raised her spinnaker. Teal struggling in the now very light air to keep clear of Hermes ahead and to leeward, decided to foot off for speed and then – spotting wind up the loch and figuring that the tide meant the need to head up the loch – tacked and crossed behind Hermes. Hermes eventually tacked but when Teal tacked back she easily crossed Hermes. Teal tacked well in front of Thalia on the starboard lay-line to G and still well ahead of Hermes who was now going well approaching on the port lay line.

The boats behind were however not having such fun back at D which was the epicentre of a large calm windless hole. The RO had spotted this and, using a mobile assistant RO on a RIB, decided to shorten the course at the G mark so that boats back at D could potentially be rescued. So Teal crossed first followed by Hermes and then Thalia. A Gareloch classic?

1 Teal 2 Hermes 3 Thalia 4 Zoe 5 Halcyone 6 Catriona 7 Athene 8 Thia 9 Ceres

Sunday 9th July

It was one of those days when, had it not been a race, we might all have stayed in and read the Sunday papers.  The rain was as forecast but there was much better wind than expected.

On the water Race Officer Roger Kinns selected a course zig zagging across the loch, beginning with a windward leg to Clynder.  Just after the start, the wind backed so that we were able to make the first mark without tacking.  That was to the benefit of boats unable to get to the windward end of the starting line.  Of those, Catriona did best and stretched her lead in clear air.  Teal, unable to capitalise on her optimum start, found she had to defend against against the fleet on the downwind legs.

Hermes sailed in unfavourable air on the first leg and struggled until the end of the round when she got back a couple of places.  She gave them back by not setting a spinnaker when going downwind on the second round.

Ceres complained of growth below the water line, despite skilled crew Wells Grogan, she was never in contention.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Thalia. 4 Zephyrus, 5 Thia, 6 Hermes, 7 Ceres.

Tuesday 4th July

Race Officer Eric Boinard was able to choose one of the longer courses. Wind was blowing towards mark D, north of Clynder. From there back to the starting area was the last leg of the round. The first a fine reach to A, off the club. Starting well was thus essential. Many were over cautious which let Catriona away with Athene showing strongly.

The leading boat finished the first round in a little over half an hour so that Eric sent us round again. By now, Catriona had a large lead over Teal with Athene nor far behind.

It would be uncharacteristic of the Gareloch not to throw a spanner in the works. The wind around D was reducing. On the approach, Catriona kept tripping over her spinnaker. Then she carelessly allowed the tide to sweep her on to the mark. The penalty turn in light air alerted Teal to the danger and allowed her to take the lead. By the time the two were sufficiently far out into the loch for sails to fill again, Teal’s lead was substantial. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet was suffering at D. Hermes was was pushed sideways onto the mark by the tide.

Wind to the finish was now more variable than usual. Which is very variable. It was unkind to Teal, who was crossed just before the finish line. Hermes recovered from her penalty turn to take third. Athene lost out.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Hermes, 4 Thalia, 5 Athene, 6 Thia, 7 Ceres.

Sunday 2nd July

Good wind, but blowing from the west.  Those hills on the west shore cause variability of strength and direction.

On the water Race Officer Roger Kinns selected a course zig zagging across the loch.  Beginning with a windward leg to Clynder.  The shore end of the starting line was the place to be  and, predictably, Teal and Catriona fought over it.  Catriona got to the inner end but when she tacked, she had Teal on her lee bow and fell back in disturbed air.

Teal had a good lead by the first mark.  Thalia had been well placed for most of the leg but fell foul of huge headers approaching the mark.

Under spinnaker, back across the loch, the leading boats came close.  There was a stooshie at the leeward mark which ended with a protest.

Wind on the Clynder shore was becoming light.  Catriona managed to ghost round and get away.  The rest of the fleet got the worst of it.  Teal kept her place, Athene could not quite make her challenge on Thalia stick.

1 Catriona (subject to protest), 2 Teal, 3 Thalia, 4 Athene, 5 Hermes, 6 Ceres, 7 Thia.

Tuesday 27th June


The Gareloch class was not put off by blustery wind and rain.  Unseasonal as it might have been.  Eight boats turned out.

With wind from the Shandon shore, a start to windward was not possible.  We began with a fine reach to A, off the club.  It was not necessary to be at a particular point on the starting line, although the shore end was to be avoided because of lighter, more variable air.  In these circumstances, there was no excuse for Halcyone and Catriona being over early.  Returning set them both back.  Zephyrus, Thalia, Thia and Hermes were in the first group to round A for the downwind leg across the loch to Clynder.  Zoe and Athene had suffered by keeping too close to the shore.  Halcyone and Catriona were taking their medicine.

Downwind, it was about spinnakers.  Hermes did not deploy hers and Thia took her time.  Those who got the best from their third sails saw the water run up their counters, thus increasing the waterline length.  Garelochs do not go much faster.

Catriona had taken two places on the run downwind.  She turned inside Thalia for the windward leg back to the starting area and was able to make progress in clear air.  She edged into the lead.

There was time for a second, similar round.  Spinnakers were needed downwind with the air heavy enough to expose small errors.  Zephyrus is set up to look traditional.  She has a mitre cut jib and honey coloured sheets.  She has Tufnol cam cleats which look the part, but do not feature in the Harken or Ronstan catalogues for a reason.  More than once, her spinnaker landed in the water when the halyard let go.  Thalia’s spinnaker, on occasion, took its inspiration from an hourglass.  Zoe’s crew was visiting from New Zealand and, so she said in the bar afterwards, was confused about which way was up.

1 Catriona, 2 Zephyrus, 3 Zoe, 4 Thalia, 5 Halcyone, 6 Athene, 7 Hermes, 8 Thia.

Sunday 25th June

We began with up to 20 knots of wind. It was blowing down the loch, which always creates a swell. Some crew did not fancy it and some boats did not turn out. On the Water Race Officer Peter Proctor chose a good course, beginning with a long leg to windward to E, the northern most mark on the Clynder shore. The starting line was without bias so that all those who wanted a good start could have one. Teal, Halcyone and Catriona set off across the loch, keen to cover each other. The others went up the Shandon Shore. On the approach to E, Catriona was leading her group, but needed binoculars to see the sail numbers of the other three. Zephyrus leading.

By this time, wind had lightened and spinnakers were perfectly manageable. The leading three, unaccountably, had misplaced the next mark and ventured far too far up the loch. The trailing three sailed straight for it. Catriona benefitted from her spinnaker. Teal less so because she lost a sheet under the boat in a way which cannot be explained. For the third leg, downwind to the starting area, the want of spinnakers on Hermes and Zephyrus and a luffing match between Zephyrus and Thalia brought the leading group back on terms with at least two of the trailing three. There was time for a second, shorter round.

On the next windward leg, Teal and Catriona did not repeat their earlier error of judgement and sailed in a favourable area of the loch. As we rounded the windward mark, the finishing order was mostly set.

1 Catriona, 2 Thalia, 3 Teal, 4 Zephyrus, 5 Hermes, 6 Halcyone.