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Tue 21st Sep – revised/corrected!

The last Tuesday evening race of the year.  It is but five minutes since we were at Rhu Marina, excited to be launching and trying to remember where everything went.

Anyway, there was a little wind.  Not as much as forecast but certainly enough to race. The Sonars were there as well.  They were later arriving so that on the water Race Officer Daka Fadipe decided Garelochs should go first.  Which confused some.  The course, windward – leeward down and up the Shandon shore.  Being late at the start, as many were, seemed not to be important.  Finding some pressure of air was key.  Dione followed the shore and looked out of it but was first round the mark, beating those who went further out, attracted by ripples on the water.  We were reminded of Linda Pender, who has sailed on the Gareloch a few times, advising ‘Head for where the wind isn’t.  By the time you get there it will have arrived.  If you head for wind, it will have gone when you get there.’

Downwind Dione and Thalia in particular took to the shore.  Catriona, Halcyone and Teal went out.  The lead amongst those three kept changing.  Finding momentum and making the best of the transient puffs was key.

Thalia emerged from the shore to be first around the leeward mark, Catriona had an inside overlap on Teal and Halcyone.  Dione was just a bit later and found herself rounding behind the leading group.

Teal tacked out straight away, which was the thing to do.  When Catriona followed, it was too late.  Thalia tarried near the shore.

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

Sun 19th Sep

(Guest report from Teal.)

The forecast was for reasonable wind from SW to W. Any wind would be good given the season we have been having. At the moorings however encouraging gusts seemed to die away and we were left with light winds. Light but there. 

Teal volunteered to be on-the-water RO and resisted the urgings for a longer classic Gareloch course given the winds. Initially considering “an H course” caused understandable splutterings from Dione until your ROs engaged their brains and explained that they meant an S course *to* H not an H type course (High/strong wind). Eventually a wind shift to the SW prompted the ROs to settle on an S course to B. A simple Z-B sausage course. 

(The standard courses are described as Light and Heavy Air courses but, in this author’s opinion, S courses should be thought of as *light* air and used without feeling they are inferior, the current L courses *fair* wind, and the H courses for really good strong wind!)

The start was bunched at Z given the biased line. Catriona leading in as usual. Teal followed through slightly late but high and tacked towards Clynder to clear her air. Both anticipating that the ebbing tide would be taking us down the loch anyway and that the dark cloud to the west looked like wind must be forthcoming from it!  Catriona tacked to cover – the rest of the fleet following – but Teal pulled ahead as she got the good air first. The wind now filled in but extremely patchy with Teal lucky in the best of it. She tacked to head down to B – and avoid getting too close to the Clynder shore – but had to cross an area that was millpond calm. Catriona brilliantly worked her way up round the edge of the hole in wind and managed to get on top. Her skipper – Charles Darley – wrily noted that this was classic Gareloch sailing! The rest of the fleet were taking advantage too, led by Thalia – going well this season generally – who was charging up underneath Teal. Teal couldn’t make an overlap stick on Catriona and Catriona rounded first, followed by Teal and then Thalia.

The wind had now backed to a NNW-erly blowing almost straight down the loch. The “downwind” leg was now almost beating: the Z mark just couldn’t quite be laid. Teal was almost managing it though with Catriona sailing lower (slightly different wind?). Catriona tacked to cross but – despite having starboard and Teal footing to duck – for some reason tacked to lee-bow Teal. When Teal looked like she would manage to sail over her Catriona again footed lower and sailed in to Aldonaig bay (between Blairadach and club moorings). The wind headed both Catriona and Teal – and Catriona might have hoped to tack and cross Teal on a wonderful lift – but the wind reverted and Catriona tacked out in huge header that lifted Teal towards Blairvadach. Teal tacked and rounded Z many boat-lengths clear. Cruel luck.

The race was now sadly a case of reaching but at least in good wind. The strong shower that accompanied it was less good and made for tough conditions for those not dressed for it. Two boats – with guest crews – retired around this point!

Round B again and then back to Z. Catriona again pointing lower but not benefiting (perhaps attempting to sail lower and faster?). Depending on your love of sailing it was now either a good or bad thing that Teal was going to cross the line within the hour time limit and we were going to have to do a *third* lap! Catriona followed. 

Halcyone had now made good gains and was chasing Catriona who was having to defend her wind on the reach down to B. Dione close behind. On the final beat to Z Dione started in turn to threaten Halcyone’s wind and Halcyone luffed defensively and aggressively right up to windward. Unfortunately Halcyone overcooked it and tacked. Her penalty turns cost her the place and she then had to keep an eye on Ceres who was keeping in the mix. 

The wind again died away somewhat just as the race was finishing and while the race had had too much reaching we had been lucky with some actual wind!

1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Dione, 4 Halcyone, 5 Ceres

Luna & Thalia DNF

Tue 14th Sep – no race

No wind. No race.

Sun 12th Sep

Seven Garelochs moved from their moorings to the start area in a light southerly breeze. At least there was some wind after the flat calms of past weeks. A course from Z to A and then to G  in a weakening flood tide looked like a safe bet, at least in the eyes of Race Officer Roger Kinns.

We entered the starting sequence with the wind beginning to veer to the west, so that only a starboard tack to A was needed. Never mind, we could anticipate a good spinnaker run to G. Thalia, Catriona and Dione got away first, but Ceres did well by going further inshore. Hermes and Halcyone were catching up. The wind almost died as boats approached the A mark, then quickly veered to the north and strengthened, so a run became a beat.

Athene was still approaching A on starboard as other boats rounded the mark. She had to take avoiding action to miss a rampant Hermes who did her turns, but then had to spend the rest of the race trying to recover some places. Tacking to G was the next challenge, seeking to take best account of wind and tide variations across the loch. Catriona and Dione, both being sailed single-handed, did best and showed consummate skill in raising and gybing spinnakers during the subsequent runs to Z and then to A.

There was time for a second round and more spinnaker handling in the sustained northerly breeze. It was almost the perfect course after all.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Halcyone, 4 Thalia, 5 Hermes, 6 Ceres, 7 Athene 

Tue 7th Sep – no race

No wind. No race.

And there really was literally no wind. Perfectly still. As Peter Proctor remarked walking back along the pier “I don’t remember a summer like it.” Indeed.

Sun 5th Sept

High pressure is all very well, but the lack of wind is bad for sailing.  We looked at flat water in the Gareloch with little enthusiasm but went out anyway.

A hint of a suggestion of a zephyr built up to give a beat to windward across the loch.  A worry in view of the ebb tide.  As we pondered, wind veered to give a beat up and down the Shandon shore, in less tide.

Thalia made the best start, reaching along the line from Catriona towards ripples out in the loch.  Catriona could not live in the disturbed air and tacked inshore, which paid.  Now Hermes and Thalia were fighting for second, which is always competitive.  Thalia reached the windward mark first and the two set off downwind close together.  They were overlapped on the approach to the leeward mark with Thalia inside.  Upwind back to the starting area Hermes risked a tack out which put her in more adverse tide but better wind.

Catriona, meanwhile, was coming to the end of a first round.  Fearing the air was becoming stiller she paused so that the time since the start passed an hour, the key for the finish to be at the end of the round.  No one complained.  Hermes took second from Thalia.

1 Catriona, 2 Hermes, 3 Thalia, 4 Ceres.  Luna and Thia DNF.

Sun 29th Aug

We were fortunate to get a race in the light air.  There was a little more pressure than forecast.

On the water race officer Peter Proctor set a course down and then up the Shandon shore.  A good choice, The winward legs were true beats and downwind it was necessary to gybe.

With a flooding tide, the back eddy near to the shore between the starting area and mark A, off the club, was attractive.  There was, however, little wind in there.  It was better further out in the stronger adverse tide.  Catriona went out and, after starting behind several others, she eventually got ahead of Dione who was further in.  After the windward mark, Dione had spinnaker trouble, which put her amongst Hermes, Thalia and Halcyone and let Catriona away.    On the approach to the downwind mark, Dione was obliged to give mark room to Hermes, which set Hermes up for the beat back to the line.

There was time for a second round.  Approaching the finish Catriona had stood out into the loch leaving Hermes further inshore.  Wind veered so that Hermes was able to lay the finish and was travelling faster than Catriona.  Excitement on Hermes was misplaced.

1 Catriona, 2 Hermes, 3 Halcyone, 4 Dione, 5 Thalia, 6 Athene.  Thia DNF.

The Gareloch Championship 2021 (Sat 14th – Sun 15th Aug)

The Championship is always a highlight of the sailing calendar.  Intense sailing and social events leave even the hardy feeling tired.  We began with a lift off party on Friday evening, held by Carol Rowe.  Superb hors-d’œuvre, Cremant de Loire and live music on the piano.  Those who like to win tried not to over indulge, with limited success.

Race Officer John Campbell, aboard Donald Ross’s Northern Wind, was able to make best use of the breeze on Saturday.  It was good wind but there were flat spots and variability.  It seemed like one of those days when you had to grind away.  Take no fliers, sit in the occasional dead patches and allow for headers towards the Clynder shore so as to limit damage.  Catriona, Halcyone and Dione made the best job of that.  Equal on points after 2 races in the morning.  Catriona crept ahead in the afternoon but the other two had no bad scores and were in contention as we savoured the barbecue hosted by Barrie Choules and John Campbell or more accurately Arlene and Claire respectively.  Hounds Rio and Rosie were pleased to be there but the humans were not giving up their food easily.

The highlight of Sunday morning was Thalia’s crew falling into the loch.  It certainly wasn’t the wind.  We ghosted to a starting area just north of the moorings and began to think we might not get a race.  John Campbell started us as some ripples appeared on the water with a course up and down the Shandon shore.  It was a matter of finding currents of air, which turned out to be better away from the shore but in more (adverse) ebb tide.  The first two or three rounded the windward mark in relatively clear air after which a peloton approached the mark with inevitable congestion and discussion of mark room.  Dione, who had been close to Catriona for most of the leg, came a cropper here.

Off wind back to a finish, with a shortened course, there was insufficient wind to fill spinnakers.  A few tried but to no avail.  Catriona had got clear to take the race and series.  Halcyone second pulled ahead of Dione in the championship.  Hermes a strong fourth.

Lunch and prize giving at the Club, the first such event after the easing of restrictions, very pleasantly reminded us what it was like a couple of years ago.  The Race Officer announced the results as follows:

1 Catriona, 2 Halcyone, 3 Dione, 4 Hermes, 5 Thalia, 6 Teal, 7 Zephyrus, 8 Ceres, 9 Athene, 10 Luna.

Tue 10th Aug

Guest report from Paul Blackburn, skipper of Ceres

Should I take a jacket? – the glorious weather of late seemed threatened but we still had 9 motivated Garelochs who had no trouble reaching the start line in the robust 10 knot breeze.  Zephyrus again lay beautiful on her mooring and remained so.  There were a few brightly coloured swimmers taking their chances with the 2 massive seals that had chosen the Blairvadach platform to bask.

Race Officer Shane Rankin had some tough decisions to make – with the wind shifting between North West and West.  He decided on L8 and then adjusted to L7, which was noticed by most of the Garelochs…..

There was plenty of water at the Flag-Y start-line with Ceres being almost pushed over by the more experienced Teal with 10 seconds to go.  7 boats opted to continue along the Shandon shoreline en route to C with only Ceres and Teal taking the starboard dart over the loch.  However it became evident that a couple of very experienced boats, namely Thia and Hermes had not completely noticed the course change and were having a 2 boat unofficial race in the direction of D (L8).  Ceres had played it well and was just pipped to the mark by Catriona on starboard who was aided again by puppy power (6 month old Rosie the spaniel).  The boats rounded in reasonably quick succession with Luna and Athene not too far behind.  For the first spinnaker leg there was a fairly constant breeze that brought G in quickly with Ceres and Catriona both trying to keep their spinnaker up for the longest.  Ceres managed the mark first but found their spinnaker lines significantly fankled which meant the beat over to D was then spent unwrapping, blaming, and losing places.

The D mark was made first by Teal – who came speeding in while the others who had gone in shore earlier contended with the tide which was making it as hard as possible to make the mark – then Thalia, Catriona and Dione.  Dione touched the mark and dutifully did her turn which, although it didn’t affect the order, did lose her ground to the front-runners. Luna and Athene also gained some speed and found D not long after.

For last spinnaker leg back to the finish line Teal lead from Thalia and Catriona. Catriona got past Thalia with a gybe and luff. But then Teal, Catriona and Thalia raced into a hole, with Dione following.  The wind now almost disappeared – at least in the hole –  and then first became a very light easterly before eventually settling back as a northerly! Ceres crept around the windward side (guided by the fuller sails towards the Shandon shore on Thia who was now spectating) and just managed to keep her spinnaker full enough to make up 3 places to follow Thalia through the line followed by Teal.

No jacket was needed after all.

Results: 1 Thalia, 2 Ceres, 3 Teal, 4 Catriona, 5 Dione, 6 Luna, 7 Athene.

Thia and Hermes DNF.

Sun 8th Aug

On the water Race Officer Peter Proctor was undone by the weather forecast, which was for wind.  There was cause for optimism as we sailed to the starting area but pressure lessened soon after the starting sequence began.  We were all caught out and late at the favoured shore end of the start line.  Catriona made a poor start but the rest were worse.  Halcyone and Thalia, further down the line, began with boatspeed to  leeward. The rest were struggling to find forward motion in the light air.

Sometimes the Shandon shore is the place to be when beating up the loch against the tide. Teal, Dione, Hermes and Luna found this was not one of those times.

It took the leader an hour to reach what ought to have been the windward mark. Wind had veered to the extent that it became downwind. Pressure built so that the back markers set spinnakers.  Teal recovered to take fourth place at the mark but could not improve on that.

A fetch across the loch and a beat to the finish held no drama.

1 Catriona, 2 Halcyone, 3 Thalia, 4 Teal, 5 Hermes, 6 Dione, 7 Luna.