Author Archives: Iain MacGillivray

Crews Race – Thu 25th July

Four Garelochs came to the starting line with crews on the helm.  The evening breeze was welcome after the hot day.  The Gareloch was uniformly rippled which encouraged us on a windward leg up the Shandon shore, then a broad reach to C, at the north end of Clynder.  At the start of the reach, Catriona increased her lead from Hermes with a comparatively repaid hoist of the spinnaker. Thia and Dione some way back.

The water off the Clynder shore had become glassy smooth.  Catriona ran out of momentum and was carried the wrong side of the mark on the ebb tide.  Hermes saw what was happening and went high.  She looked good for a while but she too succumbed to the tide.  Thia and Dione arrived next and did their best but in no wind could do nothing.  For a long time, we all tried to respond to every capricious movement of the flag at the top of the mast. It was Thia who made it back to the mark first, from Catriona, Hermes and Dione.

What, when we started, would have been a leg downwind was now a beat to windward to A, off the club.  Thia began with a good lead but was drawn into the partial vacuum of the Clynder shore.  Hermes made a good mark rounding and looked strong to windward of Catriona.  Wind, though, was kind to the light blue boat.  She had a large lead at A and sufficient pressure for the fine reach to the finish.  Hermes, now second, and Thia set spinnakers for this leg.  Thia got hers to fill and draw first but it was not enough.  Dione never really escaped from the Clynder shore.

1 Catriona, Lucy Forrester.  2 Hermes, Wendy Jones.  3 Thia, Peter Brown.  Dione, Diana Jasperse DNF.

Tue 23rd July

(Guest report from Shane Rankin – Halcyone)

Race Officer Charles Darley had to wait for the wind to fill in from the South, even then it was light. He opted for the shortest course possible, Z to A and back.

The downwind start was tricky, Athene hadnt reached the start by the gun. Halcyone, Hermes and Thia all started well, close to the Z mark, and hoisted spinnakers quickly. Halcyones spinnaker halyard let go, they sailed over the kite and Hermes slipped past.

Further inshore Thia had a good line and clear air and made the A mark ahead of Hermes. Without her spinnaker Halcyone was slow, Lunas was flying well and looked threatening.

Rounding A Hermes was too quick and tapped Thia on the quarter. Halcyone rounded well close to the mark and upwind of the boats ahead. Hermes did her penalty turns letting Halcyone past. Thia was pointing well, Halcyone couldnt catch up and tacked off for clear air. Thia tacked to cover. After crossing Athene with her kite pulling well Thia tacked back, it looked like she could make the Z mark. Halcyone stood on before tacking.

The shortened course signal sounded. Hermes had gone inshore looking for less tide, she found it. When she was well ahead she tacked out to cover Thia and Halcyone.

The wind dropped further and headed the leading boats. It looked like Hermes would make the line first. A header pushed Thia behind the moored Captain Michalis, Halcyone scraped past ahead. Hermes getting close to the finish line looked like she would run out of water, she tacked off and lost momentum. Halcyone stood on towards the beach and caught a lift along the shore that took her across the line first. Hermes was close behind. Luna had stayed out and for a long time seemed stationary against the tide.  At the end, she found pressure which eluded Thia took third place. Athene got no further than the A mark in dying air..

Positions. 1. Halcyone 2. Hermes 3. Luna 4. Thia.  Athene DNF. (Catriona RO)

Sun 21st July

After a dry morning, five Garelochs went out to sail in rain which was unusually wet and gusts strong enough to concentrate the mind.

On the water Race Officer Carol Rowe sent us on a windward leg to B, off Silvers, followed by a long run downwind to Shandon Church.  Catriona got the best start at the favoured end of the starting line.  Dione behind and the rest inshore.  It was the end of the flood tide and Catriona thought there would be advantage in going down the Shandon shore so as to find a back eddy.  Dione followed and was lifted dramatically so as top take the lead.  Catriona tacked out, expecting to have to duck but Dione tacked too.  Constant heading of the wind put Dione, who was to leeward and ahead, even further in front.  As Catriona fell into disturbed air, she tacked away.  Dione failed to cover and paid the price in the light and changeable wind on the Clynder shore.

Ceres, meanwhile, was establishing a strong lead over Hermes and Thia.

A gybe was needed at the F mark, at the end of the downwind leg.  Thia did this with her crew on the foredeck trying to recover the spinnaker bucket.  The crew lost his footing and ended up in the water, although still holding on to the boat.  It was not possible to get him back on board.  MOD Police boats from Faslane responded very quickly indeed and rescued the crew.  Who was now even wetter than the rest of us.  He was taken ashore and checked over, he was and is fine.

Thanks are due to the MOD Police for their very prompt and professional response.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Ceres, 4 Hermes.  Thia DNF.

Tue 16th July

This was a race in a perfect South to South West wind.  Race Officer Craig Macdonald set the course L6.  The first leg being a beat down to the B mark on the other side of the loch due South, there was inevitably a tactical decision as to what the best route would be.  The tide was at slack water at the start.  

Catriona, Dione and Teal tacked immediately onto port and crossed the loch, as did Athene. Thia, Hermes and Ceres for differing periods continued down the Rhu shore, before tacking across.  Catriona, Dione and Teal were round B first with Thia not far behind.  Hermes, Ceres and Athene, met at the mark, the latter having come down the Clynder shore on the opposite tack.  It was revealed in the bar after the race that Athene thought she had a right to protest but failed to do so.  

On the broad reach, sometimes a run, to the G mark all set spinnakers and the fleet became clearly separated into the four who were first round B, and the other three. Teal got past Dione at G. With the wind having veered a little to the west, and the tide now coming in it was a true beat from G to C and hard to judge laying the mark; it could only be done in two tacks by going so far down the loch as to have a very long journey. Wisely, all bar one resisted that temptation.  A beam reach from C with spinnakers produced a finish with Teal and Dione a minute or so apart, but in all other respects there was a pleasing mathematical regularity of two minutes separating each boat  from the next.

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


Sun 14th July

The Boinard starting line (between the two pins of the fixed starting lines) has been useful for the past few Sunday races.  Today, it could not have been more square to the wind if it had been laid specially.  On the water Race Officer Iain MacGillivray selected a course beginning with a windward leg to B, off Silvers.  Notwithstanding the true line, there was competition for the starboard end. It was up tide, which might have been a slight advantage.  Catriona squeezed out Dione.  Teal started well a little way down the line.  Hermes had the port end to herself.

Dione and Hermes went across to the Clynder shore early.  Catriona, falling down on Teal, tacked to cover Dione.  Hermes and Catriona pulled away, The rest looked for wind other than on the Clynder shore and were not in luck.

Despite being slow with her spinnaker, downwind to Shandon, Hermes kept her second place.  She kept it on the windward leg to C, at the north end of Clynder and she kept it back to the starting area.

Catriona crossed the line 2 1/2 minutes before an hour had elapsed so that there was a second, shorter round.  Teal, trying very hard, still could not get to Hermes.  On account of the chronically tardy spinnaker work on Hermes, Teal was in contention for second by the end of the final leg.  There was a stooshie at the finishing line, although no protest.

1 Catriona, 2 Hermes, 3 Teal, 4 Dione, 5 Thia.

Tue 9th July

Race Officer Linda Pender sent us across the loch to B, off Silvers, and back.  There was time for two rounds.  The pin end of the starting line was the place to be so that there was inevitable crowding.  Halcyone was there a little early and obliged to bear away down the line.  Catriona was a little late, having avoided the possibility of being squeezed out by Athene and Luna.  Hermes would have started well, but for right of way boats below her.  She bailed out and then fell foul of Teal as she sailed back on port tack to rejoin the queue.
Catriona was able to sail over the top of Halcyone as the two proceeded down the Shandon shore.  Teal had gone across the loch early and seemed at first to be stuck in light air.  She got to a good breeze on the Clynder shore and took the lead from Catriona and Halcyone.  Hermes’ luck was out, she was on the wrong end of a port/starboard with Thia as they approached the windward mark.
Teal kept her lead downwind and began the return to the windward mark in first place. She was to windward of Catriona as the two went down the Shandon shore.  Catriona determined not to tack until Teal did so as to avoid being blanketed.  When they were both overstanding, Catriona took the plunge and was able to get clear air on the new tack.  She worked to windward and was able to drop Teal into disturbed air, giving her a significant lead at the mark.  Downwind her spinnaker set was less than efficient (crew Lucy Forrester is away) so that Teal drew level.  It was not enough.
Hermes, meanwhile, was swapping places with Luna.  She was in front when it mattered.  Athene bemoaned a tactical error which put here in the weakest of the Gareloch’s air.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Halcyone, 4 Thia, 5 Hermes, 6 Luna, 7 Athene

Sun 7th July

Ceres joined us for the first time this year, we now have 10 Garelochs afloat.  The steady air of Saturday was gone at the start of Sunday afternoon’s race.  On the Water Race office Barrie Choules, aboard Halcyone, set a course with a true windward leg to B, off Silvers, and back.  He selected a Boinard start (the line between the two buoys which mark the outer ends of the two fixed starting lines).  All this was good but his difficulty was a visible lack of wind on the Clynder shore.  As it turned out, wind filled in after some initial indecision about direction.  Catriona and Halcyone went down the Shandon shore and got the best of the back eddy associated with a flood tide.  The rest set off across the loch and suffered.  There was time for two more rounds.  Wind by now had veered so that both legs were fetches.

Catriona’s and Halcyone’s respective positions were never challenged.  Hermes and Thia battled each other and swapped places.  A late charge from Luna was not enough to pass Ceres.

1 Catriona, 2 Halcyone, 3 Hermes, 4 This, 5 Ceres, 6 Luna.

Mid-Summer Passage Race – Sat 6th July

The Gareloch Class midsummer passage race was this year to Gourock for lunch.  Whilst not as adventurous as some previous events, a remarkably good race.  The forecast had been for very light wind but it was steady all the way to the Royal Gourock Yacht Club and for our sail back in the afternoon.

We were fortunate to have John Hammond’s Clearwater as start boat and Jamie Grant’s Kelana to finish us.  Race Officer Reay Mackay set up a starting line just south of Rhu Narrows so as to avoid shallow water.  It was low tide.  Dione missed all but the one minute time signal and made by far the best start.  Teal was there at the right time too, Catriona notably not.

Dione achieved the best compromise between being close to the Rosneath shore where adverse tide was less and further out where wind was better.  Teal, in particular, ventured too far into Rosneath bay and lost advantage.  Dione and Catriona swapped the lead.  At the first rounding mark, the light blue boat was in front and she was able to keep Dione behind on the crucial windward leg.  Halcyone and Teal had a similar battle.  The separated on the windward leg.  Halcyone was leading as the came together at the second mark.

There were no changes of order on the reach to the finish.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Halcyone, 4 Teal, 5 Athene.

Tue 2nd July

Race Officer Neill Ross initially chose a course beginning with a windward leg across the loch.  He changed it, on account of the wind backing, to a course with an S prefix, denoting short and intended for light air.  Wind was strong so there was disappointment until we looked at the course card to see it was up and down the Shandon shore (right for the wind) and not particularly short.  Bias as usual on the fixed starting line with the pin favoured.  Thalia took pole position.

Catriona and Halcyone set off across the loch.  Teal and Thalia tried their hand inshore.  Inshore did not pay.  The order was established by the windward mark.  Halcyone could not catch Catriona, not Teal Halcyone, not Thalia Teal.  The three leaders came close on the first leg downwind when wind strengthening from behind made the first boat nervous.

It was textbook windward/leeward.  Perhaps the only thing lacking was a need to gybe the spinnaker downwind.  A good course with time for three rounds.

1 Catriona, 2 Halcyone, 3 Teal, 4 Thalia, 5 Thia, Hermes DNF.

Sun 30th June

Not encouraging for the cruising sailor as we made our way out.  It was gusty as a squall of rain passed down the Gareloch.  The sky cleared by the time of the start.  The gusts remained strong.

On the water Race Officer Iain MacGillivray (sailing as crew on Dione) started us with an upwind leg to D, on the Clynder shore, thence across to Shandon (G) and back.  The fixed starting line, as almost always happens, was biassed.  The pin end favoured this time.  There was a choice between being early or being at the back.  Dione and Halcyone got the best of it.

Dione and Catriona covered each other across the loch whilst Hermes and Thalia trended up the Shandon shore.  Halcyone went more up the middle.  For a while, it seemed Thalia and Halcyone were way out in front.  Large headers and lulls approaching the mark caused them to lose advantage.  Wind especially cruel to Thalia, she rounded fourth.

Readers of previous reports will know of a continuing debacle regarding the sighting of racing marks.  Dione (having chosen the course) headed for F, further north, rather than G.  Halcyone followed, Thalia had her suspicions, Catriona saw the error but delayed telegraphing it until she was in front.

Halcyone and Thalia battled each other near the shore, on the way back to the starting area.  It did them no good.

There was time for a second round which had a long windward leg from A, off the club, back to D.  Catriona began comfortably in front.  The three large men on the windward rail of Dione kept her flat and powered up.  Lucy Forrester and Sophie Hutchison, on Catriona, are rather lighter.  Dione, as happened on the first round, climbed away.

A run downwind to the finish from D.  The strong gusts and changes of direction (especially near the Clynder shore) discouraged the setting of spinnakers.  As the wind evened out, Catriona set hers.  With spectacular rocking and rolling she caught up to Dione for a photo finish.  Unfortunately no one on the shore to judge it. (Editor – so marked as a rare 2= finish!)

2= Dione, 2= Catriona, 3 Thalia, 4 Halcyone, Hermes DNF