Category Archives: Race Reports ’13

Sunday 22nd September

On the water race officer Iain MacGillivray set a course which took us back and forth across the loch. As we waited for the start, it seemed ambitious. Wind was light and there was a strong tide setting us down the loch. Curious because we were close to high water.
Iain was concentrating on the starting sequence, so that his own start was undone by the tide. Zephyrus would have made a good start, except that she found herself to windward of Catriona and was pushed early over the line. Halcyone was the only other one to be there or thereabouts.
As the fleet moved away from the Shandon shore, wind improved. Catriona thought she was in a strong first place but, approaching C at Clynder, Halcyone crossed her on Starboard tack with elan. Unfortunately, Halcyone is newly afloat and her owner Shane Rankin has not yet rigged spinnaker gear. It cost on the downwind leg with a charging Hermes and the Teal relegating her to fourth.
Wind was beginning to lighten for the last beat across to the Clynder shore. D was devoid of wind, but not of tide. Catriona benefited from many painful lessons of the past and sailed almost to Faslane before heading for the mark. She avoided having to tack up the Clynder shore against the tide with what little wind there was, changeable. Ceres in particular had a torrid time. Athene, from her vantage point at the back, knew to stay away from the shore as long as possible. She was back in contention with Ceres but unable to capitalise.
Wind from behind brought Hermes up to Catriona on the run to the finish. Halcyone’s want of a spinnaker lost her a place to Zephyrus.

1 Catriona, 2 Hermes, 3 Teal, 4 Zephyrus, 5 Halcyone, 6 Ceres, 7 Athene.

Sunday 15th September

The forecast had said 22 knots gusting 35 knots. It was quite right. Thoroughbred white horses all over the Gareloch. No race.

Sunday 8th September

An afternoon of good wind, especially welcome after the forecast had spoken of 2 and 3 knots. On the water Race Officer Roger Kinns sent us on a beat to A, off the club, thence to Clynder and back.
The shore end of the line was favoured but there was little room for error. Teal and Catriona (Rebekah Choules on the helm) were a bit early and had to slow. To the detriment of both. Catriona was ahead, Teal to windward but not far enough to avoid disturbed air. She fell back eventually.
Catriona rounded the windward mark first. Teal was a little slicker under spinnaker and pulled ahead to windward. She never got away, though, and Catriona had the inside position at the leeward mark.
Hermes, meanwhile, was under the command of a Nelsonian Carol Rowe. She had an arm in a sling after an incident in the garden. Sailing is preferable to horticulture. Anyway, Hermes’s spinnaker hoist incorporated a rinse of the third sail. They went backwards for a while but soon recovered their third place.
On the fetch back to the starting area, the fleet was met by Halcyone. Newly afloat and looking superb with light green top sides. She had come round from the marina and not made the start but she sailed with us. There was time for three rounds. Wind veered by more than 90 degrees so that all legs became fetches, restricting the opportunities for overtaking.
Catriona eked out enough of a lead from Teal to avoid concern over overlaps at marks. Athene was battling with Ceres. She had the advantage but lost momentum at the start of the final leg.

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

Saturday 7th September – Dog Race

Two dogs were unable to compete. Harris, by far the most able crew member on Thalia and currently the most experienced dog, has a damaged cruciate ligament. A sporting injury which often afflicts footballers. Mika has sailed on Catriona in previous races but is unwell. We wish them both a speedy recovery.
The key canine contribution is a 5 second time advantage for every inch (nose to tail) of dog.
Six boats raced, only four of them with dogs in the crew. Taking up Harris’s baton of senior dog was Sammy, a King Charles Spaniel sailing on Athene. Not the longest dog but undeniably competent. Zephyrus, competing for the first time in many years, had Brodie. One of those very personable crosses incorporating some poodle. His face made cheeky by characteristic tight curls, he never showed a trace of nervousness on the run up to his first dog race. His hair does not fall out, either. Catriona showed her usual dominance with Jude, a German Shepherd who took the longest dog title from Iris’s Canna by just 10 seconds. Canna made a few light hearted remarks to Jude, who was not amused.
Race officer Luke Dicken took Tim Henderson’s Blue Iris to Clynder to give us a true beat to A, off the club. The starting line was biased towards the committee boat end. Unavoidable on account of depth of water. Iris got it just right, catching Catriona by being on right of way starboard tack. Catriona was obliged to tack early and bear away down the line to avoid being a premature starter. Athene, Miriam Sutter on the helm, and the rest were timely at the line, but at the unfavoured end.
Iris, in the lead, set off across the loch with Catriona some way below her. It was the usual thing of Iris sailing high, Catriona lower but faster. Catriona tacked when she felt the pressure reduce towards the Shandon shore. She was obliged to duck behind Iris, who unwisely stood on. By the time Iris realised the Shandon shore was not the place, Catriona had a comfortable lead. Iris let Zephyrus and Thalia pass. Those two had stayed in the stronger wind, further out.
Downwind to Clynder, there were some strong gusts. Catriona was away on the second round before the worst of them. Athene not so fortunate. Her jib halyard parted with a bang. Sammy was not impressed, he no doubt made some pointed remarks regarding the maintenance of running rigging. Some of the heeling on Iris was too much for Canna, who requested they retire. As did the crew on Ceres.
Upwind again, Thalia stayed to the right of Zephyrus which turned out to be quicker. She moved up to second on the water. Brodie’s contribution was key, though. His nose was in front, Thalia having no dog. Athene was determined to overcome her difficulty but in the end, did not finish.

1 Jude (Catriona); 2 Brodie (Zephyrus); Sammy (Athene), Canna (Iris) DNF. Thalia and Ceres, No Dog.

In the evening was a fancy dress barbecue held by Tim and Elizabeth Henderson. The theme, Gatsby on the Gareloch, was chosen by Barbara McManus of Zephyrus. New to the class, she had been shocked by photographs of previous events with men dressed as women. She was keen to avoid further inappropriateness. In a reversal of the usual form, Gordon Mucklow won the fancy dress competition as Gatsby himself. The spats were the clincher. Leaving no doubt that she can cancan, Margaret Isaacs was second.

Thursday 29 August – Ladies Race

After a jetty discussion and, relying on the initial wind (a moderate Westerly breeze) and a favourable (just) forecast, 5 boats set off for a course that would require 4 crossings of the loch. The start line was long for the Gareloch with a full tide albeit neaps.
Zoe with Jean Mackay at the helm made best use of the space and managed to clear to windward the substantial yacht causing a major obstruction to those that crossed on starboard and were beating to windward. Catriona, with Rebekah Choules at the helm, on opposite tack had to give way and lost her normal early position. Hermes, helmed by Carol Rowe had tacked onto starboard before Zoe, having decided against attempting to pass the obstruction to windward and then risked being over the line early as a rib now blocked her path.
From the start, the bulk of the fleet headed out into the middle of the loch following a fast moving Zoe to make their way to Clynder. Hermes tacked behind Zoe and took a course up the Shandon side of the loch approaching the C mark in the lead. As she rounded the mark, a substantial wind shift caused serious delay for Zoe. Catriona made up ground on the next leg by setting a spinnaker and approached the G mark third, ahead of Zephyrus who had niece Olivia at the helm. Crossing the loch again, courses diverged but fickle winds made for anxious moments. Thalia, with Fiona Du Boulay at the helm, chose the Shandon side and caught up on lost ground, negotiating the D mark a couple of lengths behind Zephyrus. A long spinnaker run to the finishing line followed, with Thalia catching Zephyrus and ending the race with a tie for fourth place.
1 Zoe 2 Hermes 3 Catriona 4 (equal) Thalia Zephyrus.

Tuesday 27th August

Where has the season gone, this was the last Tuesday evening race of the year.
Race Officer Carol Rowe sent us on a beat up the loch to G, on the Shandon shore. The pin end was slightly favoured and hence congested.
Juno had joined us from her mooring at Clynder. She sailed along the line towards the pin end on starboard tack, rather lower than close hauled. First she irritated a group to leeward of her (which gave them right of way) including Hermes, Thia, Iris and Athene. Near the pin, she contacted first the front end of Ceres, then that of Catriona. Both to leeward. If not blood brothers, these three are now paint brothers.
Zephyrus, Teal, Zoe and Iris, meanwhile, got away cleanly. With tide ebbing, there was the usual choice between better wind out, better tide inshore. It was hard to call. Teal prospered going out, Iris going in. The four were in front at G. Nothing much changed on the reach to C, at Clynder. Then a leg downwind to A, off the club.
Zephyrus had a good lead. Zoe sat on top of Teal and the skirmish slowed them both. Iris, light crewed, did not set a spinnaker. We’ll have some of that, said Catriona’s helm to her crew as they moved swiftly into second place.
On the final beat to the finish, Zephyrus snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. She went far too far out into the loch and found herself on a fine reach on port tack to finish at the pin end of the line. The place to start, but not to finish. Catriona got across first at the shore end. There was worse to come. Teal had benefited by going up the shore and was right of way boat on Starboard tack approaching the pin and Zephyrus. There was avoiding action. Carol could not separate the two as they crossed the line.
Athene had got the better of Hermes on the downwind leg by dint of Miriam Sutter operating the spinnaker. Another snatcher of defeat, Athene sailed for the wrong finishing line.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Zoe, 4 Juno, 5 Thalia, 6 Iris, 7 Ceres, 8 Hermes, 9 This, 10 Athene. Zephyrus RAF.

Thursday 22nd August – Crews Race

Thad Burr is a pilot for Continental. He first sailed in a Gareloch OD a few years ago. He had flown into Glasgow and thought to investigate the sailing scene. He took the train to Helensburgh and walked along the front until he came to the RNCYC jetty where he found Catriona’s crew rushing out, late as usual, and joined them. He comes back when he can arrange his flying schedule to coincide with a race. This is his report on the Crews Race.

Gareloch crews race on 22 August 2013
I had the unique opportunity to not only sail in the Crews Race last week, but actually skipper the Teal, thanks to Iain and Charles. A brief recap of the race, with apologies to my poor memory of events: First, I looked carefully at the forecast weather for the Gareloch area prior to leaving the States, and it confidently predicted “mostly sunny, with temperatures in the low 60’s, and winds out of the East at 5-10 kts”. Therefore, I packed no foul weather gear, and arrived at the RN&CYC ready for a fine day at the beach. Well before the first mark, it was obvious that the only thing correct about the forecast was the wind direction . . .
With no official Race Committee available, Charles “volunteered” to officiate from the decks of the Catriona, and he set an “L3” course for the seven boats competing. With winds out of the East, and blustery, the start was downwind, and the question was how soon to launch the spinnaker. Catriona, helmed by Barrie Choules, and crewed by Charles, immediately set their spinnaker, followed by Teal with myself steering and Iain “advising”, and the rest of the fleet. Not only did the first leg require a lot of concentration in order to keep the spinnaker set properly, the gray sky made it difficult to pick out the “camouflaged” buoys serving as race marks. This proved to be the case during the ensuing legs as well, but having sailed with Charles previously, I told Iain that all we had to do was head in the same direction as Catriona. Bad assumption, as it turns out that Catriona led us down the wrong path on two legs, but later Charles explained that it was all part of their strategy!
By the end of the first leg, Catriona, had a 4 boat length lead, and they never relinquished that lead. Teal was 2nd around the first mark, and continued in that position throughout. Zoe, helmed by Jean Mackay finished third, Hermes, skippered by Mike Lidwell, crossed the finish line in fourth, Ceres, captained by Richard Reeve, came across in fifth, Athene, with Andrew Choules(Barrie’s son) steering, came in sixth, and Thalia, commanded by John Urquhart, retired after failing to give room at the final rounding mark to Zoe.
It was, in my experience, quite a blustery day, with many round-ups, and quite a few debates about the wisdom of setting the spinnaker. There was only one fairly sedate leg (between marks off the western shore), and then we were back into the gusty winds blowing down from the hills to the East. A fine day to be sailing(any day sailing is better than a day at work), and it was an honor and a privilege to be able to not only sail, but to be at the helm, and my thanks again to everyone there at RN&CYC, especially Iain, for allowing me to participate. My lesson of the day was NOT to let out the mainsail during the gusts unless, or until water comes over the rail!

Sincerely, Thad Burr, Southbury, Connecticut, USA

Tuesday 20th August

Wind was diminishing all the time as we sailed to the starting area. There was a marked lull at the starting gun, which caught out many. Not as much as it caught out Pipers, though. Their start is 5 minutes before ours, most of them had not crossed the line at our starting signal.
Iris and Zoe were there promptly, the rest not. The first leg, a beat to A, off the club, was a nerve wracking affair. There were patches of pressure, but it was never possible to predict their location. The tide was flooding, so inshore was better from that point of view but there were more ripples further out. Iris went in and rounded first. Zoe went out and for a while looked slow. She was on starboard when she caught a port tack Catriona and rounded second.
A similar dilemma faced the contestants on the downwind leg to G, on the Shandon shore. Zoe passed Iris on an outrageous streak of wind. Zephyrus passed Catriona.
At the G mark, there were Pipers to confuse the issue. Zoe got round cleanly and was away. Zephyrus suffered the most, being outside a gaggle of them. By the time Catriona had been able to tack and set off towards the finish, Hermes was in the mix. These two spent some time side by side until Catriona was able to edge ahead. Many chose to go further out in search of better wind. It paid for Zoe but the others found the adverse tide too much.

1 Zoe, 2 Catriona, 3 Hermes, 4 Zephyrus, 5 Ceres, 6 Iris, 7 Thalia, 8 Thia.

Sunday 18th August

Wind might have been too strong, but as it turned out, it was a good race. The on the water race officer chose a course zig zagging across the loch, then made an especially poor start in Catriona. Teal got the best of it at the shore end. Most of those who started on port tack, at the pin end, crossed ahead of Catriona.
There were strong gusts. On the approach to the Clynder shore, wind became very changeable in strength and direction. There were cat’s paws which pressed leeward decks under, only for boats to stand up again immediately afterwards. Those with less than 20 years experience of the Gareloch found it frustrating. Especially as the course included three windward marks on the Clynder shore.
It follows that there were three legs downwind. Not all boats set spinnakers on all the downwind legs. The strong gusts and changes of direction were perhaps more startling under spinnaker than when going to windward. The third sail certainly paid, though. Hermes kept ahead of Thalia by setting her spinnaker more often. Zephyrus and Athene were having their own race towards the back. Both had suffered on the approaches to the Clynder shore. On the final leg, downwind to the finish, Athene with her spinnaker thought she might catch the white sail Zephyrus. Not quite but there was only ten seconds in it at the line.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Hermes, 4 Thalia, 5 Zephyrus, 6 Athene.

Tuesday 13th August

Race officer Luke Dicken was undone by the Gareloch wind. It was a good breeze as we sailed away from the moorings. When we had started the race, wind was light, halyards were eased and helms sat to leeward. The first leg was a long beat to D, north of Clynder. Iris got the best start, at the shore end of the line, where there is often a good lift to be found. The rest, caught out by the lightening air, were late. Or very late.
Iris made an injudicious tack to go close to the Clynder shore, realised she was done for and that we were unlikely to finish. She was the first to go home.
Catriona led at the approach to D. Ceres had done well sailing through the subtle changes of pressure and was a strong second. Zephyrus third. By this time, the shore was the place to be. The cool air sliding from the land was the only breath to be had.
The idea of finishing the race a triumph of hope over experience. Those who persevered had to be towed home.