Category Archives: Race Reports ’14

Tuesday 15th July

The last chance for a practice under ‘race conditions’ before The Worlds. Zephyrus, in particular, was trying hard.

Race Officer Michael Knox set a course beginning with a beat to B, off Silvers. The outer end of the fixed starting line was favoured, which led to the usual argy bargy on the approach. Thalia was aggressive to begin with, luffing Iris, but she was early and her challenge faded as she was obliged to bear away. Catriona took up the gauntlet and squeezed out Iris at the pin. She too was a few seconds early and had to return. Hermes, Zephyrus and Thalia had the benefit of boat speed. Their start was at the right time, if not quite the right place. They were looking strong. Athene was also premature, but she did not notice and so did not return.

As is their wont, the fleet made down the Shandon shore and into the club moorings before tacking across the loch to B. Catriona, who needed all the help she could get, had noticed the Sonar, Grouse, do well down the middle. The ebb tide a help. She followed and crossed all but Zephyrus. On the tack into the mark, Iris again suffered disturbed air from Catriona and fell back.

Downwind to G, on the Shandon shore, Catriona was clear of the rest and prospered. Zephyrus, Thalia and Iris were close enough to be concerned about taking each other’s air. The consequent manoeuvring slowed them. Zephyrus was the first of that group to harden up at G for the beat across the loch to C at Clynder.

There was time for a second round, shorter than the first. Zephyrus took a long time to emerge from the Club moorings on the second beat to B and lost places. Hermes and Thalia strong too.

On the final leg, there was a deep, deep hole in the wind around the finishing area. Catriona highlighted it for the others. First Iris, then Zephyrus, Thalia, Hermes, Athene sailed past. Ceres had only just begun the last leg when all this unfolded. She came roaring up with her spinnaker full.

1 Thalia, 2 Zephyrus, 3 Iris, 4 Catriona, 5 Ceres, 6 Hermes, 7 Luna. Athene OCS.

Sunday 13th July

A superb afternoon. Sunny and as much wind as anyone could want. Why only four Garelochs turned out is unfathomable. Race officer Luke Dicken sent us on a course taking in the northern most marks. Beginning with a long beat to E, near Rahane.

Only Catriona spotted that the shore end of the starting line was favoured and she was late. It was enough to cross in front of Luna, though. Catriona set off across the loch, thinking there might be a good lift up the Clynder shore on the opposite tack. Luna and Hermes followed whilst Thalia stuck to the Shandon shore. Shandon paid, at E Thalia was comfortably second. Next was a broad reach across the loch to Shandon Church where a gybe took us onto another broad reach back to the starting area. In lighter air, there would have been no hesitation about spinnakers. As it was, only Hermes and Catriona felt brave. Both were assisted by it, Hermes coming into contention with Luna.

There was time for a second round. Hardening up a little to A, off the club, was just too fine for the third sail in the strength of wind. There was no advantage to be gained on this leg. Thence a beat to D, north of Clynder. Here, Catriona committed a tactical error. She hardened up and sailed for the Clynder shore. The correct move was to tack and start up the Shandon shore. Then, if the others stood on at A she could tack to cover. If they tacked, she had them covered. As it was, if the others tacked and Catriona went to cover, she would find herself beating up the middle of the loch against the worst of the ebb tide in a place where wind is often less good too. Catriona got away with it, but her error led Luna distressingly astray. Luna followed Catriona, then saw that both Thalia and Hermes had tacked to travel up the loch nearer the Shandon side. She went to cover them and found herself in the worst of the tide and not the best of the air. Not only did she not catch Thalia, she was overtaken by Hermes.

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

Tuesday 8th July

Race Officer Eric Boinard was favoured with a steady breeze over all of the racecourse. He sent us on a beat up the Shandon shore to G, reach to Clynder, downwind to A off the club and beat back to the finish. There was time for two rounds.

The starting line was heavily biased towards the outer end. Uncharacteristically, Iris lost pole position to Catriona with Zoe away in third. The leading two held station, close together, as they sailed into the loch. When Iris tacked for the mark, Catriona tacked to cover and had her opponent in wind shadow all the way in. That disadvantage allowed Zoe into second place. Both Hermes (who has increased the rake of her mast) and Athene have found form lately. They were firmly in fourth and fifth places.

The reach to Clynder was not conducive to changes of place. Downwind to A, Iris was able to blanket Zoe sufficiently to get close. Determined luffing from Zoe prevented a pass to windward. Iris ducked but was never able to get clear ahead for the prime, inside position at the leeward mark. On the beat up to the starting area, Iris went inshore so as to do something different. Tide was less favourable there and it set her back more. On the second round, boats were never close enough to threaten each other.

1 Catriona, 2 Zoe, 3 Iris, 4 Hermes, 5 Athene, 6 Thia, 7 Ceres.

Sunday 6th July

Fifteen Garelochs are now afloat. Only Dione, being rebuilt, will not join in this year. Luna, one of the recent additions, came out to play this afternoon.

A fine afternoon with sufficient wind for a long course, taking in one of the northern most marks, off Shandon Church. A beat to B, off Silvers, to begin with. Catriona was preoccupied on the approach with keeping at bay Luna, to windward of her. Thalia ducked them both with elan. Hermes was squeezed out by Luna. Athene arrived at the starting line at the right moment but was too cautious of the melee at the favoured end. She feared Hermes’ fate and was rather farther to the shore than she might have been even so.

Luna, unable to pass to windward, tacked for the Clynder shore early. It paid handsomely and she was well in front at B. Choice of tactic and rustiness with the spinnaker let Catriona past on the long run to Shandon Church. Luna fought it out with Hermes but rounded the downwind mark in a favourable position for the next beat to C at Clynder. Athene beat Thalia to B and caught up more downwind. The second windward leg did for her, though. Thalia chose to go down the Shandon shore on the way to Clynder. The rest went across straight away. A good streak of wind on the approach to C favoured Luna, Thalia was round third.

There was time for a second round, but no more changes in the order.

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

Tuesday 1st July

Better wind than was forecast. At least to start with. Race Officer Peter Proctor sent us on a beat to B, off Silvers, then back and forth across the Loch. Catriona made sure she was in pole position by approaching the line early, going slowly. The risk is always that Iris will break through to leeward with better boat speed. She tried but could not get through the wind shadow. Close cover kept her in second. Hermes has adjusted the rake of her mast to advantage. She was not prompt at the start but held third place, not far behind Iris.

Spinnakers downwind to the Shandon Shore. Catriona had sufficient lead not to be blanketed by Iris. On the wind again to Clynder and thence to the finish. Iris alone set her spinnaker on the final leg. It helped, but not enough for a place to change. There seemed to be time for a second round but Peter finished us. The correct decision, wind was light on the Clynder shore by the time we were back at the moorings.

1 Catriona, 2 Iris, 3 hermes, 4 Athene, 5 Ceres. Thia suffered a failure of a strop for a running backstay and DNF

Sunday 29th June (updated)

At lunchtime the Gareloch had a glassy, windless look. However, four boats thought things might improve. They did. The course was a sausage down from Z against at first a very light south east wind and back. Athene was first over the line, hearing as she went an intriguing hail from Thalia to windward that she was (also) on starboard. Hermes was going faster further in to the shore and got ahead with Thalia further out. Thia was some way behind and never quite caught up the others. At the A mark Thalia was first followed by Hermes. The spinnaker work on Athene got her into second place for a while. But eventually, having had to bear away from Hermes she fell back to third. On the second round the wind improved to a consistent breeze and it was the final run from A to Z that was the decider. Hermes and Thalia sailed in a near embrace close inshore with Hermes as the outer boat. From a distance a going aground looked possible. But there was water and Hermes got first over the line. Athene hoping a better wind would compensate went for further up the line but the wind did not compensate for the distance, as it did not also in the case of Thia.

Hermes 1; Thalia 2; Athene 3; Thia 4.

Tuesday 24th June

Race Officer Andrew Nicholson set a short course, across the Gareloch to C at Clynder and back. In the steady breeze at the start, it seemed pessimistic but he was quite right.

The wind was behind us for the first leg. Iris got away first, Thia and Thalia were strong. Somehow, and for no particular reason, Catriona was able to sail between Thalia and Ceres and then avoid being blanketed by those two and Iris, further to windward.

As the Garelochs approached C, the Sonars and Pipers were just leaving it. It is not as if the Garelochs got there quickly, there was a hole around the mark of spectacular depth. All the boats leaving had right of way. Catriona was able to thread herself through them. The rest of the fleet took some time to drift round them. With wind filling from the middle of the loch, being away first was crucial. Thalia did well, Iris took a little time to break away. There was never any possibility of a second round.

1 Catriona, 2 Iris, 3 Thalia, 4 Hermes, 5 Ceres, 6 Thia.

Saturday 21st June – Passage Race to Rothesay

Eric Boinard, who has restored Zephyrus to magnificence, has been reading wonderful old reports of yacht races in the Glasgow Herald by their correspondent George Findlay. He was taken by stories of races to Rothesay and suggested we should do that again to celebrate the 90th anniversary. There were ten Garelochs at the starting line (between Race Officer Tim Henderson’s Blue Iris and a fixed buoy) on Saturday morning.

Wind was light and patchy to begin with. Some were seduced into Rhu bay and suffered a loss of momentum. Thalia more than most. Judging things to get round the point at Rosneath is always tricky. Close in to the caravan park there is usually less wind, but then wind is good to the Green Isle buoy. Teal and Juno did well here. Iris and Catriona were further out. Zoe was far too close to the Helensburgh shore and lost out.

Soon after the Green Isle, Catriona ducked behind Teal and was leading thereafter. Juno’s Fraser Noble has raced in these waters before. He knew wind would be best on the Greenock shore. Those of us who went with him prospered.

Iris, always one to watch, was in fourth some of the time. Shortly after the Cloch, she cemented herself into second.

Ian Nicolson, who’s Rival 34, St Foy, was one of the support boats told us of 6 metres breaking their masts in the curious gusts off the Bullwood on the Dunoon shore. It is thought that wind from the East Kyle meets wind on the Clyde just here. We could all see the point. There were gusts to dip the lee deck and lulls which had us looking at the racing flag to assess direction.

Approaching Toward, Iris went very high into the shallow bay there. Catriona, inexperienced in these waters, did not cover thinking Iris would have to bear away to clear the point. As Catriona was headed, Iris was an immediate threat. Catriona’s tack to try and get above was not the best and Iris passed to leeward.

The finish, on the Rothesay shore between St. Foy and an Admiralty mooring buoy, was further up the Kyle than we were expecting. In her search for it, Iris tacked away early. By now the others had arrived. Juno and Teal were close behind Catriona. Circe and Zoe a little further out. There was fluky, strong wind on the shore north of Rothesay which made The Gareloch look like an amateur. Juno got into it and raced past Catriona who was only five boat lengths away. No suggestion of breeze extended to the unfortunate Iris.

1 Juno, 2 Catriona, 3 Teal, 4 Circe, 5 Zoe by one second from 6 Iris, 7 Thalia, 8 Zephyrus, 9 Athene. Hermes had been lured too close to the shore east of Rothesay by a line of moorings which falsely implied a depth of water. DNF.

Tuesday 17th June

The forecast was for one of those drifting evenings with 2 knots of wind, gusting 3. As it was, there was good breeze, enough to wet the lee decks, all evening.

The first leg, a beat to D, north of Clynder. The fixed starting line biased towards the shore end. Most reached in on port tack, intending to tack close to the line and cut it fine regarding depth of water. Only one boat can achieve that perfect start. Iris as usual. Catriona and Zoe were not far behind. Hermes thought to approach the line on starboard. It discomfited many of the port tackers but it took her away from the favoured end.

Naturally, Iris was away best as the fleet sailed for the Clynder shore. Catriona chasing hard, both in clean air. Catriona went a little closer to the shore than Iris. On the long tack up the loch, they seemed evenly matched for most of it. Approaching D, Catriona found better air.

Two spinnaker legs back to the starting area and time for another round. Spinnaker gybes at the F mark were mostly good. Teal had trouble with her running rigging and retired. Iris concentrated on keeping Zoe at bay. Thalia was on the pace. Ceres quietly making her way up the fleet, she gained two places on the second round. Hermes and Athene were crossing tacks sufficiently closely for the port tack boat to have to give way. Approaching the finish it was close between them. Spinnaker trouble on Hermes allowed Athene to cement the place.

1 Catriona, 2 Iris, 3 Zoe, 4 Thalia, 5 Ceres, 6 Athene, 7 Hermes. Teal DNF.

Sunday 15th June

Crews for 5 Garelochs arrived at the car park. Thia’s helm thought better off it because there was so little wind. Catriona was single-handed and late at the start but the others very kindly waited. On the water Race Officer Peter Proctor sent us on a very short course to A, off the club, and back. Catriona badly mis-judged her tack to turn and approach the starting line and was in collision with Circe. She took the penalty turns. Thalia, meanwhile, was well away. Ceres and Circe gently taking each other high on the windward leg to A had the effect of slowing both, Catriona crept past to leeward.

Back to the starting area, the apparent wind was well forward, spinnakers working well in the light air. Thalia was misled and thought to gybe hers at the leeward mark. She did not do it well and then found herself on a beat to windward. Catriona took the lead.

There was time for two more rounds in light but consistent air. No further excitement, though.

1 Catriona, 2 Thalia, 3 Ceres, 4 Circe.