Race officer Stewart Gibb took advantage of a steady breeze, at least by the standards of the Gareloch, to send us on a course zig-zagging across the loch.
The shore end of the starting line was well to windward but pressure was lighter and more variable there. Catriona went for it and immediately Teal, who saw the danger, took the lead. Halcyone was the other strong starter.
The second leg, back across the loch from Clynder, appeared to be a fetch but tacking was needed in the end. Teal got to windward to start with so that Catriona suffered in wind shadow. Halcyone climbed well and got the better of poor defensive manoeuvring by Catriona. Spinnakers next, to B, off Silvers. Teal now had such a lead that she would only be caught if she fell foul of inconsistent Gareloch wind. She didn’t.
Halcyone and Catriona had a battle downwind, Catriona managed to sneak a pass to leeward. Athene was next and used her new spinnaker to good effect. She was well clear of the rest by the end of the leg and concentrating hard so as to give nothing away. Second and third places changed a couple of times more on the windward legs. Athene, greatly encouraged, is set to climb the leader board.
1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Halcyone, 4 Athene, 5 Thalia, 6 Thia, 7 Hermes
In good breeze, on the water Race Officer Iain MacGillivray was able to choose one of the longer courses. It began with a leg to windward to B, off Silvers. The two usual starting lines, from buoys Y or Z to a mast on the shore, are heavily biassed when wind is from the west. On an earlier occasion, the then Race Officer Eric Boinard resolved this by specifying a starting line between the two buoys. Iain used the Boinard start this day.
Eric, owner of Zephyrus, has been very ill. He is making good progress and the Class looks forward to seeing him on his eponymous starting line soon.
Even with a Boinard start, the line was not truly square to the wind. Teal read it wrong and started at the unfavoured end. Catriona avoided being squeezed out by Thalia and had pole position, Dione just behind.
Dione was unable to climb into clear air and so tacked up the loch. Catriona covered and it became clear wind was less where the two were sailing. Catriona went back to join the rest. Notwithstanding her sailing in the strongest of the adverse tide she crossed ahead. Dione stuck at it and sailed into oblivion.
Thalia was strong and rounded B for the downwind leg to the northernmost mark on the Shandon shore ahead of Teal. At the end of the run, Teal contrived an inside overlap at the mark to drop Thalia behind. She then found a superb lift in the middle of the loch to move into first on a windward leg to Clynder. She set off to B again at the start of the shorter second round with a comfortable lead. A shift in the wind meant this was now a fetch, spinnakers were set towards the end of it. Teal found an especially discrete area of little wind. Catriona was able to pass close by to leeward. A charging Thalia stayed high and could not do the same.
Meanwhile, the following pack of Thia, Dione, Hermes and Luna found themselves in lightening air and were not in the same race.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Thalia, 4 Thia, 5 Luna. Hermes and Dione DNF.
A contingent of four Garelochs took part in the Mudhook Regatta, held on the east patch in the river. The committee struggled with lack of wind to start with and moved further west than the usual east patch sailing area to find a decent breeze which improved over the day.
The races for the Gareloch Class belonged to Dione. No one could touch her on the water. She was first in the first two races and well ahead in the last. Only to find she, along with Catriona, had not noticed a change of course and had missed a mark. Notwithstanding the retirement, she was the class winner. Hermes and Athene fought with each other. Hermes finishing ahead of Athene in two of the three races.
1 Dione, 2 Hermes, 3 Catriona, 4 Athene.
The Gareloch Class went to the Royal Mersey Yacht Club at Rock Ferry to race in Mersey Mylnes. The pier from which we went out to the boats is a listed structure and was used by a long gone ferry across the Mersey. It was a very special party because our hosts celebrate their 175th anniversary this year.
The tide dominates racing here. We think of up or down referring to the direction of wind. The locals use the term to refer to tide. Wind was light but much better than forecast. The course along the west shore kept us away from the commercial vessels in the river and from strongest tide.
We had three team races. Our best performance was in the first, when our own Barrie Choules took line honours. We were equal on points in this race so that the hosts won it by virtue of not having first place.
On Sunday morning, there was a fleet race, again won by a local crew. Our own Lucy Forrester, on the helm of Mercury, kept them honest. She was pinned out left as a result of poor tactical advice from another of the Gareloch team and had trouble getting to the windward mark on port tack with the fleet on starboard. Slick spinnaker work by Royal Mersey Commodore Ian Diamond helped Lucy to be first at the leeward mark. She made good use of the gap to the peloton and kept all but one at bay.
Sun and wind. There could be few better places to sail. Race Officer Carol Rowe was able to choose a course starting to windward up the Shandon shore.
With tide flooding, the pin end of the line was best regarding both wind and tide. Catriona got the favoured position. Perhaps her approach was compromised by a luff from Thia because very soon Halcyone and Dione, who started further back down the line, had the advantage. Catriona tacked onto port to go inshore and ducked Halcyone who tacked to cover. She had not noticed a charging Dione and was obliged to tack back. Catriona felt very pleased but could not hold Dione.
A reach across to Clynder was just too fine for spinnakers. Dione set off on the run down the loch to the club with a good lead. Teal and Halcyone indulged in some luffing, Halcyone dropped a place. Teal was now well to windward of Catriona who had to respond to avoid her air being disturbed. Dione, too far in front for it to matter, increased her lead.
Nothing changed on the beat back to the starting area. There was time for a second round. Dione was reeled in a little on account lighter patches of air. For the run downwind to the club, Teal pushed hard from third but could not make a pass. Dione trended towards the Clynder shore, which looked like a mistake. She put on a spurt on the approach to the leeward mark. She kept her spinnaker late to be sure of preventing anyone having an inside overlap (which would have given priority in rounding the mark). The tactic was her undoing. It led to a wide turn as she was slow setting up for the next leg upwind to the finish. Catriona turned more sharply and was overlapped to windward. The two stayed like that for a while before Dione dropped back. Teal tried her luck further out in the loch.
1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Teal, 4 Halcyone, 5 Thia, 6 Luna
Race Officer Iain MacGillivray took advantage of a good wind to set a course beginning with a leg to windward and incorporating offwind legs which required gybing. He send us first to D, north of Clynder.
The shore end of the starting line was favoured and Catriona had it all to herself. Dione and Thalia were able to point higher on the beat and reeled her in. Hermes mistook the one minute signal for the start and was on the course side of the starting line as a result. Luna, in the charge of Julian Forrester and Chris Ings, is new to the competition after a few years laid up. She was in the mix and sometimes in third place in the to and fro going to D.
Dione was first for a reach across the loch and thence downwind legs requiring spinnakers. Catriona was sharper with her third sail (although we were all out of practice) and got back to the front.
On the beat to D of the second round, Halcyone played the nuances of wind and tide best. She moved to a strong second place, Catriona took care to cover.
Offwind to the finish, determined luffing by Thalia failed to keep Dione at bay. Luna’s crew was pleased to be in the mix with people who have been racing Garelochs for longer.
1 Catriona, 2 Halcyone, 3 Dione, 4 Thalia, 5 Luna, 6 Thia, 7 Athene, Hermes OCS (RO duty – Teal)
There was enough air for us to ghost to the starting area, decide there was insufficient to race and then ghost back. It was the same for the Classic Regatta at Gourock on the Saturday.
There was a good breeze in the afternoon. There was a good breeze as we left the moorings. As we arrived at the starting area, the Gareloch became increasingly smooth.
Race Officer Julian Forrester set one of the shortest courses, to H (off the shop in Clynder) and back.
Hermes and Catriona were in danger of being left near to the shore. Catriona paddled furiously before the preparatory signal to get closer to the favoured pin end of the line. Hermes didn’t and suffered.
Boats starting from out in the loch on port tack had the benefit of momentum. Dione got the best of that argument and blanketed others. All of whom blanketed Catriona. Teal made an outrageously good start by approaching from the course side (she was obliged to give way to all the others) dipped the line and was away. The rest of the fleet was moving too slowly to interfere.
On the trip across the loch, it was immediately clear the flood tide was having a strong influence. Thalia in particular was swept a long way up. Julian signalled a shortened course before anyone had reached H.
Teal was the first to do that and led by a margin from Dione and Halcyone on the leg back to the finish.
Catriona managed to make her spinnaker work for part of this leg, which helped her past Dione and Halcyone who were swept up on the tide.
Near to the Shandon shore, there was a strong back eddy which caught Teal unawares. She was taken the wrong side of the finishing mark and took some time to struggle back against the tide. Her lead had been so large it didn’t matter. Dione failed to learn from that example, did the same and lost a place to Halcyone.
1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Halcyone, 4 Dione. Thalia, Athene, Hermes, Thia, DNF.