Author Archives: Iain MacGillivray

Sun 17th Jun

This was the first race of a new series.  People were naturally keen.  On the water Race Officer Peter Proctor wanted to send us on a course beginning with a windward leg to B, off Silvers.  He was perturbed to find that storm Hector had brought the B mark across the loch to the starting area.  The pragmatic solution was to select a navigation mark instead.

Wind as we were leaving the moorings was strong enough to dip the side decks underwater.  It eased through the race.

Catriona, closely followed by Dione got the best of the start.  Dione eased ahead, in particular going well on port tack across the loch.  On the approach to the windward mark, Catriona found better air, prevented Dione tacking and rounded first.  She dropped her spinnaker too late at the end of the downwind leg and the consequent poor mark rounding put Dione back into contention, by the next windward mark she was ahead.  A lead she kept although it was close at the end.

Some of the spinnaker legs were a bit fine and gybes at the C mark on the second round (from a reach to a reach) needed care.  Hermes did not set her third sail and so avoided the spinnaker troubles which afflicted some of the others.  She led the rest home, having previously had a windward/leeward stuchie with Thalia which is subject to protest.

On the final leg to the finish, in ever lightening air, Athene kept her spinnaker better filled than Thalia and took a place close to the line.

1 Dione, 2 Catriona, 3 Hermes, 4 Athene, 5 Thalia, 6 Zephyrus.  Ceres DNF.

Tue 12th Jun

A stunning summer evening – the last of a month of perfect weather – with sun, warmth and good wind. And also the last race of the spring Tue series with a good turn-out. It is a reflection of the competitiveness of the class that, with the arrival of Dione, there were three boats all in with a chance of taking the series. Whichever boat won tonight (or at least won out of the three) would also win the series! Not that Teal was entirely aware of that…. 

NNW wind and RO Linda Pender picked a classic course with a good initial beat to the D mark well up the Clynder shore. Also featuring the classic biased start-line that ends in the shore! Catriona’s tendency to ‘lead in’ to win the start is getting more risky as the class gets more competitive and aggressive. And so it proved with Ceres (helmed by Richard Reeves) chasing along the line, Thalia and Teal approaching from below (with Thalia herself having to bear off to avoid being ‘hooked’ by Teal). Catriona had nowhere to run and was OCS with no easy way back; Ceres was flirting with the line and being pushed by Teal; and Thalia, perhaps running out of water, attempted to tack and demand rights over Teal (but perhaps should re-read the rules!). Teal nailed the start, tacked on to starboard and was away across the loch with other boats nicely below. Halcyone and Dione the best in second and third after avoiding the starting fracas.

A cracking beat now up to D. Dione tacked away, Teal tacked to cover and Halcyone followed heading up the loch. Meanwhile Hermes followed by Catriona – having returned to the start-line – attempted to do something different and headed up the Shandon shore. Catriona abandoned this early. Despite crossing most sterns, Catriona tacked back on to port further left than most and managed to overhaul most of the fleet to complete a masterful recovery (albeit one aided by a failure of any of the class to cover her). Teal and Dione held on to lead in to the D mark. Teal tacked in too early and had to give room – and the lead – to a charging Dione coming in on starboard with good wind. Teal round next, Catriona following to the G mark. Teal managed to overhaul Dione due to faster spinnaker launching, but Dione kept inside rights over Catriona at the mark for the run back to the start-line. The order did not change as we passed the line for the second round to A and beat back to D. Spinnakers stayed up to an out-of-position A mark. 

Dione and Catriona now both tacked to head up the Shandon shore, so Teal was obliged to tack and cover. The rest of the fleet followed! Catriona eventually tacked to try and break cover by Dione. Dione and Teal tacked to cover. Teal’s tack had the effect of covering Dione most and she tacked off again leaving Teal covering Catriona. It didn’t pay for Dione and Teal led Catriona then Dione in to D (where she did not make the mistake of going in too early!).

Downwind back to the finish, Teal now managed to find a fairly calm hole in the middle and watched aghast as Catriona and Dione caught up to leeward in a nice streak of pressure. At this point two things saved Teal’s bacon (can you make ham from a duck…?): firstly the wind steadied, and secondly Teal would hit the closer shore end of the line first. Not quite a photo finish but Teal then Catriona then Dione crossed for a very very tight finish to a classic race. Later in the bar we discovered that Ceres was OCS. And after discussions on getting in the way of Halycone while returning to the start Catriona, despite a lack of formal protest, did the sporting thing and retired.

1 Teal, 2 Dione, 3 Halcyone, 4 Thalia 5 Hermes 6 Thia – OCS Ceres, DNF Athene, RTD Catriona

(Guest report from Teal)

Sun 10th Jun

On the Water Race Officer Roger Kinns was able to start us with a good windward leg to D, north of Clynder.  Catriona and Dione were undone by fickle wind on their approach so that Thalia and Hermes got away better.  Dione soon found her stride and took a lead which was never challenged.  Catriona, Lucy Forrester on the helm, passed to leeward of Thalia thenceforth in clear air she chased after Dione.  Her second place made more secure by changeable wind which did no favours for Thalia or Hermes.
There was a moment on the second round when Catriona, well separated from Dione, looked as if she was ahead.  That was when Catriona had the best of a lift and Dione the worst of a header.  Normal service was soon resumed.  The order had been established at the first windward mark.
1 Dione, 2 Catriona, 3 Thalia, 4 Hermes.

Vintage Race – Classic Keelboats – 19th May

Vintage Race – Classic Keelboats

The first Vintage Race for Classic Keelboats was hosted by the newly formed Clyde Classic Keelboats Association on Saturday 19th May at Royal Gourock.

John Blackie the Garelochs’ new Convenor committed Athene to attending and encouraged others. On the day, a dubious forecast promising no wind first thing, and strong wind for the sail back wasn’t promising.

A gallant trio comprising Zephyrus, Catriona and Halcyone set off at 9am, got all but stopped in Rhu narrows, and then fortuitously were taken in tow by Kelana. Athene was expected to emerge from the marina to join them but there was no sign of her.

After a warm, sunny crossing a RIB directed the boats to empty moorings, handed over sailing instructions and invited crews ashore for pre-race refreshments.

A substantial fleet had gathered – 5 Pipers, 4 Scottish Islands, at least one Loch Long, Kelana and the gallant Garelochs.

A decent breeze from the south west had established. A race along the shore using the Club’s fixed marks was planned. The start line was between a fixed mark beyond the moorings and the Clubhouse. Moored boats either side of the line made things interesting.

The boats spread themselves along the line at the start, Zephyrus towards the shore, Catriona and Halcyone at the pin. Zephyrus called it well and made good progress on the first beat to G just short of Cloch Point. The wind was shifty, much like the Gareloch, finding the shifts and not tacking too often was key.

By the first mark the Pipers were pulling away. The Scottish Islands boats were mixing it with the Garelochs, given their large sails, not getting covered was important. On the downwind leg to D at the north end of Gourock Zephyrus and Catriona and the lead Scottish Islands were in a tussle.

Halcyone rounded the windward mark just behind the other 3 Scottish Islands. The Islands were slow to get their spinnakers drawing. Nipping to leeward with her spinnaker pulling well Halcyone drew past. By the leeward mark she had opened a decent gap.

On the second upwind leg Catriona realised going inshore offered more favourable tide and caught Zephyrus.

The windward mark on the second round, F, was closer, just beyond the Western Ferries slip. A ferry was approaching as Catriona beat up. It looked like Catriona would have to give way, Halcyone took heart, here was a chance. At the last moment the ferry turned to pass astern of Catriona, was this out of respect for the skipper’s naval hat or a sensible precaution given his look of determination.

Running back to the leeward mark positions settled. The Pipers were well ahead. Catriona, Zephyrus and the first Scottish Islands in a group. Halcyone further back but ahead of the other Scottish Islands. Passing the start line a yellow Gareloch appeared to be beating up, was she racing, no – Athene had made it after engine troubles on her crossing.

At the finish Catriona looked to be nip and tuck with the first Scottish Islands. Their final positions would be settled with a calculator. Zephyrus was second Gareloch.

As they finished the gallant trio turned promptly for home. If they weren’t quick the tide would be turning in the narrows when they got back. But the freshening, following wind made for a rapid crossing.

It had been fun to sail in a mixed fleet on someone else’s patch. No boats were injured, no voices raised. It had been a good day out.

Sun 3rd June

Wind was off the Shandon shore again, which it has been for the last week.  On the water Race Officer, Peter Proctor, started us with a leg downwind to D, north of Clynder.  Catriona started well at the favoured pin end.  Teal was faster with her spinnaker after the necessary gybe onto port and took the lead.  Dione meanwhile appeared from below us all and with boatspeed.  She passed below Teal, luffed to clear her air and looked secure.  Zephyrus was swift for a while but faded.

Wind died on the approach to the mark and Catriona ghosted into an inside overlap on Teal and Dione.  That got her ahead of Dione but a poor mark rounding let Teal back.  Nothing could be done on the fetch across the loch to G, at Shandon.

Further back there was a stuchie between Thalia and Hermes at D.  Thalia had mark room but when she became windward boat, after gybing, she failed to keep clear.  There was a forceful protest from Hermes and Thalia later retired.

For the leg back to the starting area, wind lightened.  It looked a little better further out, but there was more adverse tide there.  Teal went in and Catriona tacked out.  Mainly so as to do something different.  Approaching a large, glassy patch of water, Catriona tacked in towards the shore whilst Teal by now was on her way out and crossed well in front.  Thence there seemed to be better air and less adverse tide further in.

Peter signalled to shorten the course because much of the fleet was now becalmed.  Otherwise the leaders would have sailed on.  Wind revived briefly but died again.  It was the correct call.

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

Tue 29th May

Race Officer Jim Findlay was obliged to select a course beginning with a leg downwind.  In sunshine and a pleasant breeze, most made an effective start and set their spinnakers for the run to D, north of Clynder.  Catriona edged the lead from Teal. Her crew likes to think from superior skill handling the spinnaker but probably she was in a slightly better line of air.  The lead increased on the windward leg back across the loch to Shandon.  Dione established herself in third from Thalia.

Catriona ventured into the Shandon shore too early and was undone by contrary wind. She sat almost motionless as Teal found a streak of pressure further out, rounded the mark and was away.  A late running Piper caused Catriona further frustration.

There was time for a second, shorter, round but the Gareloch had not finished with us. On a broad reach up the Clynder shore, wind faded.  Teal got the best of it, Catriona fell back, the rest of the fleet more so.  Hermes read it correctly and went home after the first round.  No places changed after that, Thalia said she almost had Dione at the finish.

1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Dione, 4 Thalia, 5 Thia, 6 Halcyone (if she made the time limit), Hermes DNF.

Sun 27th May

Our Convener had been looking at a Met Office forecast which showed isobars widely spaced so that he feared a lack of wind.  As it was, there was more than enough to keep us amused.  Any more and we might not have raced.  Halcyone’s helm was returning from holiday and noted, as we were beating across the loch from Rahane,  ‘from the road you could see spray flying off their quarters’.  The Convener’s boat Athene is still undergoing shakedown.  The strong wind did not help so that she decided to stay on her mooring.  Six of us went to the starting area.  

On the water Race Officer Peter Proctor selected a long course, beginning downwind to D, north of Clynder and then back and forth across the loch.  Our start was delayed so as to allow a submarine to make its way out of the loch.  Thalia and Catriona were on the starting line at the correct time although perhaps not as close to the pin end as they should have been.  Teal misread the first leg and set off across the loch on port tack, thinking a gybe would be needed to reach the mark and she would approach on favoured starboard tack with the fleet having had to gybe on to port.  By the time she realised the mark could be made by remaining on starboard, she was behind.  

At the mark, Catriona had edged into the lead with Thalia and Zephyrus fighting over the overlap for mark room.  These two were swapping places until a ferule splicing wire rigging on Zephyrus slipped and she was forced to retire.  Thia thought better of it after the first mark.  Hermes had had enough at the end of the first round,   Teal showed her speed to move firmly into second.  

It is good that it was a warm day, because we all got wet with spray.  Some of it incompletely atomised.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Thalia.  Zephyrus, Hermes and Thia DNF.

Crew’s Race – Thu 24th May

A superb evening of sunshine and breeze.  Where else in the world would you rather be.

Helms Fiona Baker (Thalia), Peter Brown (Thia), Lucy Forrester (Catriona) and Michael Milne (Dione) raced.  Peter had won last year and the confident body language on Thia was plain to see.  Michael, with Roger Kinns as crew, knew that Dione goes well.

On the Water Race Officer Michael Knox was constrained by wind blowing from the shore at the starting area to set a course beginning downwind to C, at the north of Clynder.  Dione and Thia got away well with Catriona selecting the wrong gybe.  She corrected that and was able to establish an inside overlap by the time the three reached the mark.  A better rounding by Dione led to luffing and Thia made hay to take first place.  Shortly after, Dione lost her main halyard.  The time it took to remedy did for her chances.

Gareloch wind, meanwhile, was unkind to our Race Officer.  The second leg, back across the loch to windward, was almost a fetch.  Only a short port tack approach to the mark was needed.  Thia was not to be caught.  Nor was she on the next reach across the loch to Silvers.  The leg back to the starting area was a fetch.  Thia made a tactical error by standing on unnecessarily at the mark.  Catriona tacked at once and edged into the lead.  There was a second round.  An enjoyable sail in good breeze but no places changed.

1 Lucy Forrester (Catriona), 2 Peter Brown (Thia), 3 Fiona Baker (Thalia), 4 Michael Milne (Dione)

Tue 22nd May

(Edit – results corrected to include Hermes!)

The race officer was faced with a light and somewhat variable breeze and opted for the short course to the C mark off Clynder and back.  A decision not immediately appreciated but with hindsight gave a good race. 

As ever it is not possible to set an upwind first leg with an easterly so the first leg was under spinnaker.  Teal and Catriona made a good start but protest flags were sighted as Catriona gybed in Teal’s water. Dione sat close on Teal’s stern all the way across with Catriona close by and Thalia pushing up.  Athene on her first race of the year was balancing the need to organise the boat with racing priorities.  Catriona did her penalty turns at the C mark before setting off after Teal & Dione with Thalia in close company.  Places were to be won and lost on this beat with some tidal advantage to be had on the Clynder shore but some favourable shifts further out.  Thalia suffered from the disengagement of her main halyard causing her to lose ground.  After much tacking and covering, Dione led round the Y mark for the start of the second round, closely followed by Teal & Catriona.  The run back to C was uneventful but places were again traded on the beat as Catriona found first a favourable shift and then an unfavourable one.  With the course shortened to 2 rounds, the final positions were as for the first round.

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

Sun 20th May

No wind*, no race.

(*Webmaster/editor: well there was a little wind but it was very light, very variable, largely from the opposite direction of the forecast SSWerly and completely outmatched by the strong tide!)