Author Archives: Iain MacGillivray

Kiel Klassische Woche (Kiel Classic Week) – 14-22 June 2019

(Report from Shane Rankin – Halcyone)

At the 2018 autumn FKY meeting at Lake Starnberg the Garelochs were invited to come to the 2019 Kiel Klassiche Week. Eventually after much toing and froing only Charles Darley and Shane Rankin attended. Charles sailed with Wulf Fiedler on Van Hout a 1963 8m cruiser and Shane sailed with Wilfred Horns on his 1949 11m Piraya.

Klassiche Week is a major event which happens every four years. The 2019 event marked 20 years since the first. It dovetails neatly with the much longer established and even bigger Kiel Sailing week; as Klassiche Week ends, Kiel Week begins.

Around 160 boats took part from the 12 metre Anita and the 23m long Germania VI to Hansa Jolle pocket cruisers and even a 5m open dinghy. Although the big glamourous yachts, the 8, 6, 5.5 metres, and the Skerry cruisers first catch your attention, most of boats are family cruisers, dinghy cruisers, Knarr boats, Dragons, all much loved and cared for.

The week starts with an overnight race to Sønderborg on the Danish island of Als from Kiel, Feman, Flensburgh and Svendborg. Starting at 2130 on Friday from Kiel, Piraya crossed the finish line in Alssund just before mid-day Saturday.

Through the night the wind was light and fickle, dying away for a time, returning about 0300. By dawn there was a large fleet stretching north around the island into Alssund. The wind followed us round into the sound coming abeam eventually, giving us a close reach to the finish. We couldn’t tell who was in which class but there was always someone nearby to race; it made for an interesting finish.

Priaya finished shortly after Mingary, a Mylne ketch, and chummed her and others down the narrow sound to the lifting bridge into Sonderberg harbour. Later that day Charles strode down to the harbour from his train wearing his characteristic white- topped hat, ready to race.

Sunday was racing around buoys off Sonderberg in nine classes in a moderate breeze that died away. The pattern for the week began – race to a picturesque port, next day race off that port, move on, all the way back to Kiel. Gather the boats at the quayside each day and turn it into a spectacle. Eat and drink together, enjoy several varieties of jazz and discuss the day. Every other day there was a prize giving, and a thank you to local officials for hosting and helping us. The occasional novelty event was thrown in – the Arnis Soup tour of 10 restaurants each offering different soups for €3 in Kappelin was a bit of fun as we were led round the town by an Oompah band

Not only was it special to be part of the spectacle of the boats milling about to race, but entering each port as part of this huge fleet was quite a sight. In Kappelin on the Schlei, it took an hour to reach the port from the Baltic. Then we all had to wait for the bridge to lift when we jostled to squeeze through the 30m gap against tourist steamers and work boats.

Remarkably there were few incidents on the water. There was one ugly collision when 12 metre Anita, on starboard, mounted the starboard bulwark of the heavy double ender Gudrun III.

The weather was glorious, but near the end of the race into Eckernforde, well up the fjord, the thunder that had rumbled all afternoon turned into a sudden hail shower. The hailstones were the size of broad beans, the visibility disappeared and the wind rose to 35- 40 knots. We all took a hammering. The 5m dinghy filled and capsized, and capsized again, the 8 metre Feo pulled up, dropped sails and rescued her and her helm. In 15 minutes it was over, the sun came out and we sailed to the finish; several boats retired and motored in.

It was quite an occasion and good to be part of it. The photos on the FKY website capture the bigger glamourous classes, there were many more everyday classics, smaller but beautifully formed too.


Tue 25th June

An evening of light air.  There was not enough to tempt the Sonars.  Race Officer Michael Knox waited a little before setting the shortest course to A, off the club, and back.

Catriona had trouble rigging and was very late at the start.  Usually, that would have resulted in a convincing last place but this evening the light and variable air caught some.

Halcyone started convincingly from Thalia and benefitted from better wind out in the loch.  Luna and Hermes suffered inshore.  After the leaders had reached A, there was always a breeze but always still patches.

On the second round, Thalia had the lead offwind towards the starting area.  She dropped her spinnaker when the wind came forward and so lost out when it went back again.  Halcyone and Catriona (by now back in contention) were concentrating so hard on being first to the line they did not notice there was to be a third round.  Thalia, paying more attention, rounded first and retook the lead.  She found a narrow band of wind down the loch and was not to be caught.  Halcyone ventured too far towards the Clynder shore where air was still.  The rest made progress on the Shandon shore.  Halcyone, with the help of her spinnaker, managed to repass Luna near to the finish.

1 Thalia, 2 Catriona, 3 Hermes, 4 Halcyone, 5 Luna.

Sun 23rd June

(Belated guest report from our Convenor aboard Athene!)

East winds present challenges in the Gareloch as has been remarked before in Race Reports.  One of these is that a reaching or running start is unavoidable.   Another is that the wind on the Blairvadach shore is unpredictable. A third is it can be very gusty.   All five boats were slow at getting to the start line owing to the wind going down for a bit.    Crossing the loch to the D mark with the wind moving around there was a question as to whether a spinnaker would help or not.  Eventually already way out in front Dione raised hers and became even further out in front.  Athene raised hers early, and to good effect.   Thia did too, but had a problem, after the race revealed to have been the result of putting the spinnaker boom up on the leeward side. Hermes decided it was worth it further over the loch.  Dione had rounded the D mark lang syne when Athene got around second. 

On the beat across to G in quite strong gusty wind Hermes and Thia pointed well and quickly overhauled, with Luna with guest helm, Seb Hudson also doing well.  Athene pointed badly. Hermes in a suddenly light wind got tangled with the mark.  But having done the necessary she caught up and overtook on the next leg down the loch to B, the first leg of the second round of the H3 course, which then goes up the Clynder shore to C before crossing back.  With Dione now home in the anchorage, the four behind crossed the line at Z still relatively close together with Athene at the back.

1 Dione 2 Hermes 3 Thia 4 Luna 5 Athene

Tue 18th June

The weather was not very summery but the wind was good. RO Prof. Blackie (Athene) and assistant RO Miriam Sutter selected course H6 – a bold choice of ‘High wind’ course on for an evening race but one that gave a good beat to B and then a good long run down the loch followed by a beat back and across via C. Interestingly with not only a differing course for Sonars and Garelochs (not unusual) but with differing marks on largely the same route. This would prove to be crucial for those paying, and not paying, attention as you will see!

With Catriona’s helm being away at Classic Week on the Baltic, Teal had only to finish 2nd or better to secure the series. So it was strategically rather incompetent that she found herself starting last having been OCS. The start had a not-uncommon bias due to the fixed shore with the Z mark being favoured. This led to all of the boats vying for pole and Thia, Hermes and Teal were all over early. This made it difficult to work out who was OCS and Teal thought she was just OK and that Thia or others were the culprits. But the flag stayed up and so back she went belatedly. (The RO later reported that it was a matter of six inches but over is over.) This left Dione well out in front with the others chasing and Teal at the back.

At the B mark Dione was still well in front with Hermes, then Thia, Thalia following. Teal had managed to get in front of Luna and chasing down Thalia and Thia who had a luffing battle. Hermes having some struggles with the kite allowed the others to pass to windward.

At this point Teal realised that Dione was heading to the G mark – following the Sonars – rather than the correct F mark much farther up the loch. Thia and Hermes following Dione. Teal luffed up a little to point to the correct mark and overtake Thalia. At the F mark Teal – unbelievably given her start – now leading from Thalia. Thia and Hermes spotted the error and Dione eventually realised her mistake when she saw everyone ignoring her and her illusory lead.

A good beat now to C. Teal covering both Thalia who had tacked immediately and kept down the loch and Thia who had headed slightly further over to the Clynder shore before tacking and was pointing menacingly at times.  Careful covering of a strong Thalia was required by Teal to arrive first at the C mark. A swift kite launch saw Teal well out in the lead heading for the finish of the shortened course. Thalia was careful to defend against Hermes’ luffing and came in a solid second having made neither an OCS start nor gone to the wrong mark! Dione did at least manage to get past Luna but her crew were somewhat sheepish in the bar after.

1 Teal, 2 Thalia, 3 Hermes, 4 Thia, 5 Dione, 6 Luna (RO duty: Athene)

Sun 16th June

Gareloch numbers were reduced due to some of the class participating in the German Classic yacht regatta in the Baltic. Those remaining were greeted by near perfect weather and I little judicious crew negotiations meant that Thia was persuaded to leave the gardening for another day and come out.

A broadly westerly wind resulted in a start towards Silvers using the”Boinard” north-south start line. After a reasonable start, Captain Michaelis, a moored yacht acted as an obstruction, Dione chose to go below and stay out of the tide, Thalia chose to cross the loch. At the first mark, it was clear that due cognisance of the tide paid. The long run up to mark F at Shandon gave time for some spinnaker training, complicated by an RN patrol boat that appeared to be trying not to impede us, but failed miserably.  Across to the C mark at Clynder saw Hermes get the better of the leg but not enough to catch Dione. The wind became more variable on the Clynder side with some force to the gusts but also variability in direction. What looked to be a spinnaker leg to complete the first round, wasn’t.

Time for a second round, Hermes managed to overtake Thalia to Silvers, a reluctance to hoist the spinnaker saw Thalia regain second on the leg to Clynder. The Gareloch porpoises were around to add interest to the finish with a bit more spinnaker training for Dione.

1 Dione, 2 Thalia, 3 Hermes, 4 Thia.

Tue 11th June

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

Sun 9th June

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.

Mudhook Regatta 2019 (Sat 8th Jun)

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.

Tue 4th June

No wind. No race.

Team racing vs RMYC – Sat 1st & Sun 2nd June

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.