Author Archives: Iain MacGillivray

RNCYC Club Regatta 2018 – Sat 11th Aug

Five Sonars and five Garelochs took part. The first start was scheduled for noon but Race officer Simon Pender, aboard David Whitham’s Evolene, could find no wind.  We waited and when breeze filled in from the south west, Simon’s team already had the course laid.

Thalia, with Simon Jackson on the helm, started best at the pin end of the line. Athene was next and battled hard with Thalia going to windward on the first leg.  Catriona had started badly, below Athene. Dione and Hermes were behind her, at the Committee Boat end where breeze was less.

Thalia led all the way round two laps. Catriona was chasing hard and had moved into second from Athene going downwind. On the windward leg to the finish, Thalia took a tack to reach the better wind which had brought the chasing pack closer.  This was associated with a shift in direction.  The new air reached Catriona as she rounded and it was now possible to lay the line from the leeward mark.  Catriona was able to sneak in.  Athene kept Dione at bay.

The course was re-set for the second race and this time, Catriona started better.  She was leading from Thalia at the first mark but paid insufficient attention when gybing onto port tack to go downwind and fouled Thalia who remained on starboard.  The penalty turn let Thalia away, constantly lightening air caused the gap to increase.  She was almost at the finishing line by the time the others had rounded the leeward mark.

By now, air was barely moving enough to affect the racing flags.  With steerage way lost, Thalia was unable to cross the finishing line.  The rest were brought up, more on currents of water than air. Catriona got close at the pin end of the line with both boats being swept to the left to the left.  There was enough air to stem the tide on port but as soon as boats tacked to finish, they were taken the wrong side of the mark. Thalia tacked first and Catriona had to pass astern. Thalia was taken the wrong side so Catriona stood on a bit, tacked onto starboard and might have made it. Thalia now on port left it too late to keep clear.  The penalty turn set her back irrevocably. Dione, meanwhile, had caught up, avoided all this and took the gun. 

Result for the regatta, 1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Thalia, 4 Athene, 5 Hermes.


Tue 7th Aug

Ten of us turned out.  Luna was in her first race since 2014 under the new ownership of Julian Forrester.  We were visited by Michael Scholl and Jörg Kadgiehn of the Freundeskreis Klassische Yachten.  Both accomplished helms, they took charge of Dione and Athene.

The wind in the Gareloch is often unkind to Race Officers and so it was this evening to Barrie Choules.  He set a course beginning with a windard leg to C, at Clynder, and zig zagging back and forth across the loch.  The start for Garelochs is the third of the three classes.  By that time it was not possible to sail along the starting line from the shore end to the pin.  There was inevitable congestion as most tried a start on port tack at the pin.  Teal was set back.  Catriona timed her approach just right but thought she was over the line early.  The recall was for Thalia who approached from the course side of the starting line and was easily able to duck it before tacking.

After all that, we set off across the loch with Luna and Dione leading.  Gareloch air was lightening all the time and becoming more variable, especially near to the Clynder shore.  Boats a few yards apart found themselves in different wind.  Some of the fleet was brought up on a line of air so that several boats were trying to round the mark at once.  Thia came out well.  Luna went around the outside of all of them and was well placed for a run back across the loch but dropped back for want of a spinnaker.  Thalia found herself headed as she approached the mark and struggled to avoid touching it.

Getting cleanly away from the Clynder shore was key.  Thia did well.  Teal would have done, but for Halcyone who was still to round.  Catriona found the best of the air and, her spinnaker drawing, resisted a luff from Luna.

Time was now getting on and Barrie rightly thought we should struggle to finish if we had to visit the Clynder shore again.  He set up a finishing line at the G mark, on the Shandon shore.  A lamp post serving as one end of it.  We were able to ghost back to our moorings before light began to fade.

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

Sun 5th Aug

(Guest report from Teal)

Dione volunteered to be on-the-water race officer since she was three-up and, in the continuing absence of the G mark sent us on a good long race around course H6 (ZBfcY) – the F mark being the furthest up the Shandon shore. The line was biased to the Z mark end and, with a light patch before the start, Dione, Thalia and Halycone made the best of it with Teal following close behind. Teal followed for a bit but following wasn’t going to achieve much so despite the risk of a strong incoming tide in the middle of the loch she tacked away to what appeared to be a darker windier patch and towards a distinct dark cloud which she reasoned was causing it. When she tacked back to consolidate, Dione was only just ahead of Teal so it had paid. Dione tacked on top of Teal but Teal tacked herself to head back towards the Clynder shore. Heading back towards the better wind and out of the tide. And leaving Dione and others heading against the worst of the tide! When Teal tacked back again on a shift, she was so far ahead that the race was almost already won.

Teal rounded the B mark for the very long run to the F mark. In the following pack Halycone rounded first having played the tacks and shifts well, followed by Dione, Athene then Thalia. Thia too both going well and with the pack. Ceres trailing somewhat with spinnaker troubles? Thalia overtook Athene with slicker spinnaker handling but the order otherwise unchanged. Rounding F for the beat to C, Teal decided to immediately tack and head up the loch on the Shandon shore out of the tide and towards what appeared to be better wind back towards the mouth of the loch. When they rounded Halycone and Dione decided to stand on towards the Clynder shore which didn’t seem to pay with mediocre wind. And Dione exacerbated it by bearing off towards the E mark! Thalia meanwhile made a good decision and followed Teal up the Shandon shore in good wind and when she tacked to cross the loch she crossed ahead of both Halcyone and Dione. Sadly for her she didn’t cover to consolidate her position. Teal rounded C and watched the following pack wondering whether they had over stood the mark; perhaps all tying to get inside mark rights. Halcyone had Dione well covered and sure enough rounded second, followed by Dione then closely by Thalia.

Teal watched secure on her fine reach to the finish at Y. We thought Halcyone was secure too in second. Dione however kept attacking, hoisted her kite and went well to leeward of Halcyone. She was rewarded when the wind lifted half way across and she powered through well under Halycone to finish a good few boat-lengths ahead. Thalia too put up the kite but couldn’t quite replicate the gains.

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

Sun 29th Jul

(Guest report from Thalia)

A very wet day, with poor visibility.  Only Hermes and Thalia went out for the last race of the present series. Wind was a light northerly, after wild weather on Saturday. Race Officer Roger Kinns set L1, with a beat down the Shandon shore to ‘g’ then across to Clynder and a lap finish via ‘a’ and ‘z’.  Both boats headed down the line for a pin start on Starboard with Hermes ahead.  The gap narrowed so the pair were almost level near ‘g’.  But where was the mark? The two boats agreed that a yellow mooring buoy would have to serve for the day.  Hermes rounded first, but Thalia had the better of the fetch to Clynder and got an inside overlap.

The run to ‘a’ saw hardly any change in relative position, with crews deciding that wet spinnakers were not going to be much fun.  Thalia was ahead on port tack, with Hermes overlapped on the outside.  Unable initially to see the next mark in the damp gloom, Thalia tracked too far left and had to bear away as the ‘a’ mark came into view.  Uncertain whether she had lost her right to a proper course and unwilling to risk boom contact, she executed a quick double gybe to duck under Hermes’ stern and conceded mark room as a result. A stuck jib sheet cost another couple of lengths. Seeking to balance the effects of an ebb tide with better wind in the loch didn’t favour Thalia in the beat to ‘z’ and on to a second lap via the substitute ‘g’. The race seemed to be over as a contest. A generous Hermes then sailed on up the Loch towards Faslane, never found the real ‘g’, eventually came across ‘f’ and turned towards Clynder.

So who won?  Technically it was Thalia with Hermes second through her extra voyage.  Both enjoyed a refreshing sail.

Tue 24th Jul

Race Officer Carol Rowe was not helped by the fickle wind of the Gareloch.  There was breeze as we left the moorings but a grey cloud seemed to absorb any current of air around the start line. We waited and were rewarded by a zephyr.  The only feasible course was to A, off the club, and back.  A mark on the Clynder shore, which at first seemed more to windward, out of the question on account of a large, glassy area of water.  As it was, wind backed so that the trip to A required tacking.

Catriona got away well, chased closely by Dione.  The pin end of the line was favoured and there was inevitable congestion.  Teal thought to set her spinnaker early for what began as a fine reach. She was undone by boats to leeward pushing her the wrong side of the mark (and boats to windward taking her air).  At the end of the first round, she was at the back, along with Halcyone.  Both made progress in a second round.

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

The Gareloch Championship 2018 – Sat 21-22 July (aka The Gareloch Worlds!)

The premier social and sporting event of the year.  If you have a Gareloch, that is.  Racing on Saturday and Sunday morning.  Lift off Drinks Party hosted by Reay and Jean Mackay on Friday evening.  A barbecue by Barrie and Arlene Choules on Saturday evening, when those who had done well in the sailing could relive their triumphs.

The wind was kind to us, it was steady all day on Saturday and the sun shone.  All ten boats which are afloat were there.

Race officer Jean Mackay, aboard Tim Henderson’s Blue Iris, was able to send us on a variety of courses with the gist being a leg to windward up the Shandon Shore.

Catriona got away well from a square starting line in the first.  Guest crew Mark Greenhalgh had adjusted the leads of the jib sheets to good effect.  Working in unison with regular crew Lucy Forrester, they made it easy for the helm and she won by a margin.  Hermes was delighted to come home second, ahead of Dione.

The second race was over the same course and Catriona had learned how to start.  She did not have it all her own way, though.  Dione found a good route up the beat.  Tide was ebbing so that there was a balancing act between better wind but adverse tide out in the loch and a favourable back eddy but less pressure inshore.  Anyway, Catriona tried to tack on top of Dione, who got bow forward and made hay.  This was Catriona’s day, though, and she got it back on the next leg downwind.

There is a prize for the last placed boat which has competed in all the races.  Notwithstanding it is a handsome silver rowlock, there is competition to avoid it.  After two races, Athene was set to win the rowlock again.  She became determined.

After lunch, the third race of the day took in a circle of the south end of the loch, beginning again with a windward leg up the Shandon shore.  The results were much the same as before.

At the start of the fourth and final race, the wind strengthened which upset many plans.  Those who decided on a port tack flyer at the outer end of the line were obliged reach along it so as to avoid being premature starters.  Where they met the starboard tackers who had gone close into the shore so as to achieve the safer approach.  Thalia, on right of way starboard tack had the fittings pulled from both ends of her boom and was unable to continue.  She was given average points for the race.  There were other incidents where penalty turns were taken.  Catriona would have started well if her skipper had listened to his crew.  Instead he dallied and hit the mark.  Teal, just in front, was early and obliged to re-round.

After all that, Dione established a lead whilst Catriona fought back to second by the end of he round.  Jean Mackay changed the next leg of the course, giving us a long windward leg to the northern most mark on the Clynder shore.  Wind approaching the shore is often variable.  Catriona risked going in whilst Dione found a lull further out and that was that.

It would have been too much to expect that wind on Sunday could be as good as it was on Saturday.  It was lighter, it had backed to the south and there was variability.  For the first of two races, Jean sent us down the Shandon shore, to the club and back.  We finished at the club, in dying air, after three legs.  Catriona thought she had started well and had covered her main opposition.  Thalia, her boom fixed, started better, went the right way and was not to be caught.

Wind soon filled in for the second race, more from the west now, so that a good windward leg was from the club to the B mark, off Silvers.  Thalia’s tail was up and she got away well, leading the fleet up the first beat on the right side.  Zephyrus, trending left, was well placed too.  Both crossed Catriona.  Wind at B was tricky, as it often is near to the shore from which it is blowing.  Catriona was in and out efficiently, with slick spinnaker handling from Lucy and Mark.  Dione found herself rounding on a great circle route with boats inside.  That set the pattern for the remaining rounds.

Athene, with Wendy Jones and Julian Forrester crewing, was able to get ahead of Ceres and Thia in these later races and so avoided having to polish the rowlock.

Each boat has competitors that they would like to beat.  Carol Rowe’s Hermes, for example, had fun in tussles with Halcyone (when she usually inched ahead) and with Teal (when she usually didn’t).  Her second place in the first race was associated with a good start.  If she had kept that up, she would have been further up the leader board.

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

Tue 17th Jul

It was an evening of light and changeable air. Race officer Peter Proctor chose one of the shorter courses (to D, north of Clynder, and back) thinking there might be time for two rounds.

The pin end of the starting line was favoured. That led to congestion and some angst as many favoured a start on port tack at the pin whereas Teal reached along the line on starboard and caught some out. Dione and Catriona went for the shore end. Dione getting the better of it. Both soon realised the pin was favoured.

On the windward leg, Catriona and Dione covered each other, each benefiting then suffering from the lifts and headers. Further up the loch Thalia prospered and Teal suffered a little. Halcyone went a long way up before tacking for the shore. It kept her in the mix.

Approaching the mark wind was kind to Catriona so that she round at first and was away before the wind died even more on the Clynder shore. Thalia caught Dione on Starbird and Teal was back on terms.

Some had trouble with spinnaker halyards on the run which
set back their cause

1 Catriona, 2 Thalia, 3 Teal, 4 Dione, 5 Halcyone, 6 Zephyrus, 7 This, 8 Ceres

Sun 15th Jul

Halcyone, Dione and Teal all started in a line at the biased Z Mark start. Teal tacked off to clear her air and try for better wind. Dione thought to stay out of the tide down the shore to the moorings but wasn’t getting much wind. Teal, playing some lifts, emerged well on top covering Dione and Halcyone and lead in to the A Mark.

Sadly a dropped and trailing spinnaker sheet let Teal down and Dione’s slicker spinnaker launch got her past for the long run downwind up the loch. Places didn’t change after a beat to C and back to the finish at Y.

1 Dione 2 Teal 3 Thalia 4 Ceres 5 Halcyone 6 Athene

Tue 10th Jul – no race

No wind. No race.

Sun 8th Jul

The Scottish summer continues and today there was wind too.  It was blowing from the north west so that on the water Race Officer Barrie Choules was able to send us on a long windward leg to the E mark, near Rahane.

Only Teal made a good start.  She opted for the shore end of the line.  A little unfavoured by the bias but avoiding inevitable congestion at the pin.  The rest of us either arrived early and lost time in the turning back or were just late.

Dione started to windward of Catriona but just behind.  An unfavourable position out of which  she was able to climb.  Teal, meanwhile, was well to windward of the fleet and looked secure.  Variability in strength and direction of wind did her no favours.  In particular a large header towards the Clynder shore put Dione on terms.  We all looked for the best route and fortunes changed.  The only constant was that Dione sailed fast in the best of the air.  She was round the E mark first,  Catriona had to give mark room to Teal.  Zephyrus and Thalia were battling for the last of the podium places.

Offwind to Shandon Church, Catriona drew level with Teal and had the benefit of the inside position for the next mark rounding.  Wind from behind brought Zephyrus and Thalia into the mix.  After the gybe at the mark, Thalia took the shore route for the run down the loch to the end of the round.  Zephyrus tempted Teal further out with the threat of passing to windward.  Dione maintained her pace, despite the group behind disturbing her air.

There was time for a second round.  Shorter and beginning by hardening to a spinnaker reach to A, off the club.  Catriona had been obliged to luff Teal to prevent being blanketed and losing mark room.  As a result, the final approach to the mark was by the lee.  Catriona held her boom out but Teal needed to gybe.  She dropped her spinnaker which set her back.  Thalia, meanwhile, had done well in shore but could not break an overlap and so had to give mark room.  On the way to A, she could not live in disturbed air to leeward or make a pass to windward.

The next leg was to windward, this time to D, north of Clynder.  The variability in wind was the same as before and as then, Dione did not put a foot wrong.  Catriona did alright, Teal suffered.  It was all decided before the run to the finish.

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