A wonderful evening for racing. Sunshine and wind.
In the absence of a race officer on shore, Craig MacDonald on board a Sonar selected one of the longer courses, zig-zagging across the Gareloch to the northern most mark near Rahane. The other classes followed suit and we took our timing from him.
With wind off the Shandon shore, the first leg was necessarily downwind. Teal made the best start but was just a cat’s whisker slower under spinnaker than Catriona. There was a couple of boat lengths in it over the length of the leg. That allowed Catriona to get away in clear air on the beat back across the loch. Zoe, meanwhile, had done well without resort to her coloured sail and Halcyone always looked dangerous. After her win on the previous Tuesday, Thia was not satisfied with being towards the back.
The fleet approached E, the mark near Rahane, from an unfamiliar direction. We all went high, Catriona and Teal spotted the mark first but the rest seemed not to believe them and continued towards Faslane. That promoted Teal to second after she had suffered in poor air on the previous windward leg.
There was time for a second, shorter, round. Hermes had had enough, though. Thalia lost places here.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Zoe, 4 Halcyone, 5 Thia, 6 Thalia, 7 Ceres. Hermes Rtd.
A slightly adventurous passage race has become an annual event for the class. Seven Garelochs were well looked after by support boats Blue Iris, Full Circle, Kiri and St. Bridget.
We started in the Gareloch at nine, so as to make the most of the ebb tide before it turned at noon. Position in the race was all about finding favourable wind and tide. Large gaps appeared between boats and the order could change the next time they crossed tacks. Zephyrus soon showed ability to call it right by steering a course well away from the Rosneath shore. Others, notably Catriona, called it wrongly by taking a shorter line and suffering from light air in the lee of the shore. Thalia and Hermes had done well here but gave away part of their advantage in a luffing match.
At first, we all struggled in light air with a substantial chop in the water. Making forward progress was frustrating. Selecting the right area of the Clyde in which to sail became important. In general, those who favoured the Gourock shore did better than those drawn to Kilcreggan and Cove. Thalia, who had been on terms with Zephyrus and way ahead of the rest, lost a big lead in this way.
Past the Cloch, wind built so that water broke over the foredecks as we punched through the waves.
Race Officer Tim Henderson had selected navigation marks off Wemyss Point and Knock Castle to be left to starboard so as to corral the fleet and allow him to shorten. It is ironic that Thalia, who made a point of buying a new chart so as to be confident of finding these marks, missed the first of them. Zoe transgressed in this way, too.
Off Knock Castle, the wind left us so that Tim finished us. It was remarkable, after the large gaps which had developed, that the fleet closed here so that conversations could be held between boats.
We enjoyed our dinner in Largs Sailing Club, when Francoise Proctor presented the McGruer Trophy to Iain Macfarlane, crew of Zephyrus. Catriona and Athene collected prizes for second and third places.
We were lucky to get a race. Wind was failing as we made our way to the boats. We ghosted to the starting area and drifted. There was a tantalising area of ripples at the south end of the loch but it never seemed to come closer.
Race Officer Simon Pender had postponed and was able to get us one round of a shorter course (windward-leeward to Silvers and back) when there was enough to fill the sails. It was Thia’s night. Michael Knox got her to the starting line at the right moment and, more importantly, with boat speed. She was on the lee bow of Catriona and forced her to tack away. She got the approach to the B mark just right, benefiting from wind on the Clynder shore. The others had tarried on the Shandon shore and were nowhere. For the run back to the finish, Thia gybed early to go up the loch. That left her in better air and to windward of her only challenge after she gybed back to head for the finish.
1 Thia, 2 Catriona, 3 Ceres, 4 Thalia, 5 Hermes.
The forecast was for lots of wind and it had been blowing hard in the morning. That must have put people off because only three boats came to the starting area.
The starting line was true so that all three started well. Easier when there is no one place where everyone wants to be. Catriona, with her usual crew Barrie Choules on the helm, made a point of covering Thalia on the initial windward leg. Zephyrus found better air and was first to the mark. The want of a spinnaker dropped her to third on the next, downwind leg. Thalia sailed in a band of stronger wind to achieve an inside overlap at the leeward mark but gave back the place soon after.
Again Zephyrus went the right way on the second windward leg and rounded just in front of Catriona. She dropped back just a little on the reach back to the starting area. There was time for a second (shorter) round. On the windward leg, Thalia tacked on top of Zephyrus, seemingly unaware of her presence. She was the windward boat and required to keep clear. Zephyrus did not press the point.
The two were close towards the finish. Thalia achieved a late inside overlap at the finishing mark but with no right to mark room, she was forced to the wrong side of it. Going back to finish correctly left no doubt about the finishing order.
1 Catriona, 2 Zephyrus, 3 Thalia.
The more conservative members of the class decided that it was too windy to race. Those who are keener enjoyed crewing on Sonars.
Nine of the ten Garelochs which are afloat turned out for a race in sunshine and good wind.
On the water Race Officer Peter Proctor chose a course beginning with a windward leg to B, off Silvers. He selected a different starting line to avoid shallow water which had the unintended consequence of being heavily biassed. Teal and Catriona were both a little early for the favoured end but managed to adjust their starts without much damage. There began a tacking duel which Teal was winning until she set off across the loch, failing to cover. She found air so much less good that she dropped more than one place. Halcyone made hay here and unobtrusively kept her place near the front.
Thalia, with ambitions, was approaching the windward mark on port tack and paid insufficient attention to Ceres, who had right of way on starboard tack. It was close.
Downwind from Silvers to the Shandon shore Thalia responded to a passing move by Teal which did not delay the two as much as it might have. They both sailed high but in a streak of wind. Teal had the favourable inside overlap at the leeward mark and set off in hot pursuit of Catriona on the next windward leg to C off Clynder.
Back to the starting area, it was just a little fine for spinnakers and the gaps closed. There was time for a second round beginning with another windward leg to B. Fluky Gareloch wind did for Catriona, from being comfortably in front she was prevented from tacking by Teal, just to windward. She did, however, manage to climb and force Teal to tack away. In the tacking duel which was developing, Teal tacked into the wake of a tug, which stopped her. She next found herself disadvantaged by a sudden shift of wind and she failed to keep clear of a right of way Zephyrus. The penalty turns were extremely damaging.
After B, there followed two offwind legs where spinnakers could be carried by the enthusiastic. The others watched the occasionally extreme angles of heel with amusement.
1 Catriona, 2 Halcyone, 3 Thalia, 4 Teal, 5 Zephyrus, 6 Hermes, 7 Ceres, 8 Thia, 9 Athene.
There was a stiff breeze blowing from the north. As usual, this led to an uncomfortable swell in the moorings. Some of the crews were put off. Thalia and Halcyone decided not to race. Hermes thought to reef but was perhaps over cautious.
The boats were much happier when they started sailing. We were sent on a good long leg to windward (D mark, north of Clynder). Hermes’ reef held her back, by now wind had moderated and there were no strong gusts.
Going downwind, there was a little nervousness about spinnakers, but there need not have been. The third sail required care but was never overpowered. Hermes shook out her reef at the end of the round, but by now it was too late.
1 Catriona, 2 Ceres, 3 Thia. Hermes DNF
Text and photos by Race Officer, Wells Grogan
Helensburgh townsfolk boarding the Waverley or walking the promenade on Saturday 27th May would have been treated to a special sight, as the local Gareloch One Design fleet was racing just off the Helensburgh pier. Just 16 of these classic sailing yachts were built in 1924 at McGruer’s yard in Clynder, and on Saturday, 8 of them were out racing. All 16 of the original Garelochs can still be found at the Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club.
Every other year since 1999, the Gareloch owners host members of the German Classic Yacht Club, Freundenskreis Klassiche Yachten ( FKY) to a team race in local waters. This year, the two teams contested the match during an exciting day on the water. It was a highly competitive match. The first of seven races was won by the visiting yachtsmen. By the end of the seven races sailed during the course of the day, the home team had squeaked out a win by the skin of their teeth, with our Helensburgh and Rhu skippers besting their visitors 4 races to 3. Following their dinner at the Rosslea Hotel on Saturday, further racing was held in the Gareloch and around the Sugar Boat on Sunday. Local yachtsman, Tim Henderson, who skippered Blue Iris, the Committee Vessel, on the day, described it as the best racing the club has had with FKY in the history of the competition. Next year the Gareloch sailors will head to Germany to visit their guests and continue the annual challenge series.
Tim And Mathias
FKY official photographer Mathias Paulokat with local yachtman and Committee Boat Skipper, Tim Henderson.
Gareloch One Design yachts racing off Helensburgh Pier on Saturday 27 May.
Thank you to owners who lent boats, pleased to say no incidents or damage
Wells Grogan, Race Officer, drew attention in his speech at the prize giving dinner to the boats being well matched. No boat was consistently at the front or at the back.
No wind therefore no race.
On the Water Race Officer Peter Proctor was faced with a problem. It was low tide and there was insufficient navigable water between the starting mark (Z) and the shore. As an experienced sailor once said, ‘it looks like water, but it isn’t’. Peter’s pragmatic solution was to designate the starting line as being between the Z and Y marks. An unintended consequence was to introduce severe bias, the Y end was the only place to be and it was hard to fetch the mark from the pre-start side. Teal was the one to be there, followed by Catriona. Thalia was extremely unlucky, being forced to tack on to port in order to cross the line she found herself in the way of the starboard tack, right of way Zephyrus. As she took her penalty turns, there was a local lull in the wind. She never recovered.
Teal and Catriona see themselves as competitors for first place in this points series, so that they were racing each other and ignoring the rest. Hermes and Halcyone took advantage. As the first two took each other far too far across to the Clynder shore and in to lighter air, Hermes and Halcyone went where the wind was blowing and were first to B, the windward mark. Halcyone not by a large margin. Next, a run downwind back across the loch. Lack of slickness with the spinnaker on Halcyone allowed Catriona past. Teal was more polished and maintained her lead over Catriona to the mark. The next leg was upwind again, to C, off Clynder. Teal was able to open the gap here. Halcyone again benefited from the ‘match racing’, Hermes was out of sight by now.
Approaching the leeward mark from C, to begin another round, Teal was a little early dropping her spinnaker. That put Catriona close enough to achieve an inside overlap at the mark and to take the place. Halcyone had lost out with the spinnaker and was now fourth.
In the battle of tacking and covering upwind to B again, Teal got her place back just before the mark. The next leg, a reach up the Clynder shore, was a bit fine for spinnakers. That did not stop the two pugilists. Teal had more trouble keeping hers full and avoiding broaches, so that she elected to drop. That cost her the place once more. Hermes, who did not have to overtax her spinnaker, finished 3 1/2 minutes in front of the second placed boat.
1 Hermes, 2 Catriona, 3 Teal, 4 Halcyone, 5 Zephyrus, 6 Thalia.