Category Archives: Race Reports ’14

Tuesday 10th June

In a steady breeze, Race Officer Gordon Mucklow sent us on one of the longer courses, beginning with a beat to B, off Silvers. Athene, recently afloat, joined us but was not prompt at the start. She had trouble with rigging.

Catriona rudely squeezed out Teal at the pin end of the line and got away well. Most of the fleet stuck to the Shandon shore so as to avoid the worst of the flood tide. Thalia went out early, which seemed wrong, but she was close behind Catriona at the windward mark. Next a spinnaker leg to F, off Shandon Church. Good air from behind brought Thalia up to the leader. A late running Piper complicated the rounding of the leeward mark. Thalia ended up taking penalty turns. Wind had now begun to diminish and become fluky. The remainder of the fleet took some time to reach F.

The next leg, a beat to Clynder. In the middle of the loch there was a suggestion of breeze but adverse tide. On the Clynder shore, even less pressure but out of the tide. Pipers prospered in the middle, Garelochs did not.

No boat reached the finishing line before the time limit. A Broadley finish with results taken as the order at C, the last mark to be rounded.

1 Catriona, 2 Thalia, 3 Thia, 4 Ceres, 5 Teal, 6 Athene.

Tuesday 3rd June

Race report by John Blackie

This was another Tuesday of rather light winds and some variability of direction. With a falling tide and a beat to the B mark some, the ultimate winners, stood right down to near the narrows, and fetched the mark. Iris, who had been squeezed out at the start, Teal, and Catriona helmed by Miriam Sutter and crewed by John Blackie of Athene went across the loch and then down. Iris improved her position among the three. On the run up the loch Catriona’s crew was slow in getting up her spinnaker. There was little change over to the C mark. Thalia, Zoe and Zephyrus were well ahead of the rest of the fleet. On the way across the loch. Hermes had a torrid experience with the wind lessening and fell to the rear. Iris got well clear of Teal. Catriona adopted her owner’s practice of using the spinnaker with the wind just forward of the beam. Her crew having got better at managing it and she caught up on Teal somewhat.

Zoe 1 Thalia 2 Zephyrus 3 Iris 4 Teal 5 Catriona 6 Hermes 7

Irish Visit – Anniversary event – 31st May – 1st June

The first of the big celebratory events for the Gareloch’s 90th birthday. Teams from the Fairy Class at Cultra on Belfast Loch and the Howth 17 Footers visited for a three cornered team racing match.

We were all bright eyed and expectant on Saturday morning but the Gareloch was its usual self. There were ripples here and there but no air to speak of. The decision was made to take the boats to the East Patch, off Helensburgh, where there was a steady and reliable breeze.

The plan was for six races and Race Officers Bill Inglis and Simon Jackson, aboard Tim Henderson’s Blue Iris, got them all in. Albeit the last three were shorter than they would have liked. Two teams of four boats raced at a time with the third on Bill and Jane McLaren’s Vagrant of Clyde, enjoying hospitality and listening to tales of adventure sailing round the world. If it has a coastline, Vagrant has been there.

The visitors raced each other first, with Howth taking the win. Both were feeling their way and aggression was muted. The Garelochs, on the other hand, had been practicing and had benefited from coaching by expert team racer, Mark Greenhalgh. We knew where we wanted to be on the starting line and we knew how to slow an opposition boat so as to promote one of ours. We won our next two races.

In the fourth the Fairies got the better of Howth. Howth won the match on aggregate. By now, things were getting a little tighter. The Garelochs were still winning starts but not with as much conviction as earlier. There were times in the last two of our races where the home team was in trouble. Delaying tactics going upwind and turnovers downwind brought enough of us through for a series of four wins.

The dinner on Saturday evening was especially good. These team racing matches began more than 30 years ago so that we reminisced and remembered all those characters who were so central but are no longer with us.

A fleet race on Sunday morning. The idea was that helms from the team racing should crew for members of an opposing team. Six boats competed. For some, it was the morning after the night before. The Gareloch at first teased us with large, glassy areas of water. In the end there was wind for a good race. Howth 17 sailor Seamus McLoughlin in Catriona got to the better air on the Clynder shore first. He made good use of Catriona’s spinnaker downwind and was never in any danger. Even from Vagrant, who had a few of the more delicate aboard and sailed the course.

Tuesday 27th May

There was good breeze as we left the moorings, but that was it. We were all ghosting about before the start, which was complicated by the lack of a race officer on shore. The other classes chose a short course across to Clynder and back. We all tried extremely hard. Boats prospering, then dropping back in the light and variable air. We tried spinnakers on both legs, but mostly there was not air to fill them. The extra anticipation needed when boats are travelling very slowly and not answering to the helm eluded many. The ‘windward’ mark was left to starboard, so that right of way boats approaching had to tack onto port to round and so became give way. Complicated when several boats, a mix of Garelochs and Pipers, are overlapped and not manoeuvrable.

As it turned out, we over ran the time limit, no Gareloch finished.

Sunday 25th May

Luna, newly afloat and looking very smart, was sailing around the starting area but did not come to play.

With wind blowing from the Shandon shore, on the water race officer Peter Proctor was obliged to set a course with a running start. Downwind to D North of Clynder. In a good breeze Catriona got away well with Teal and Thalia in hot pursuit. Slick spinnaker work by crew Lasse Sutter prevented any overtaking and, by D, Catriona could relax.

For the beat back across the loch in the usual fluky air, Catriona did not cover Teal sufficiently closely and briefly lost a place. Teal, though, did not learn from her opponent’s error and dropped back shortly afterwards.

The start of the second round was a run, this time to B, off Silvers. Teal still fancied her chances and thought to gybe her spinnaker at B for the reach up the loch along the Clynder shore. Catriona had dropped hers, which was the right move. Wind was too strong for carrying spinnakers on a fine reach. The trouble Teal had stowing hers allowed Thalia to pass. Thalia was careful to keep close cover for the beat to the finish and Teal, not for the want of trying, was unable to retake the place.

1 Catriona, 2 Thalia, 3 Teal, 4 Zephyrus, 5 Hermes, 6 This. Ceres DNF. She went home because the distaff side of her crew had insufficiently waterproof clothing for the heavy showers.

Tuesday 20th May

With wind blowing from the Shandon shore, Race officer Jim Findlay was obliged to set a course with a running start. In these condtions, being away promptly is essential so as to avoid being blanketed by the boats behind. Iris and Teal did that. Zoe and Catriona delayed each other. Thia, not long in the water, did not set a spinnaker and appeared to be on the pace with the rest. At the leeward mark, C, Iris appeared to have cemented her first place but had a problem with her main halyard on the beat back across the loch and let Teal past. Catriona insinuated herself inside Zoe at C and made the pass stick. There were two more legs in this round. On the beat from B, off Silvers, back to the starting area, Iris retook her first place.

There was time for a second round. Shorter this time and beginning with a reach up the Shandon shore. The leading three seemed to have their order set and pulled away from the rest. Next a slightly broader reach to B again. This time spinnakers were set and all looked well until the Gareloch lived up to its reputation regarding variable wind. On the approach to B, there was little pressure and no set direction. Catriona ghosted past Teal. Places changed further back too. It was a similar story for the beat back to the finish. Thalia in particular suffered. Iris could be seen almost stationary in a large patch of smooth water. Catriona became ambitious and shaped a course to try and sail round the hole in which Iris found herself, rather than cover Teal. By the time she realised Iris was not to be caught Teal had found wind. She had the momentum to retake her second place.

Approaching the finish, Catriona was behind and just a little to windward of Teal. Somehow she found air which illuded Teal and took second by a whisker. Thia did the same to Zoe but with more aplomb.

1 Iris, 2 Catriona, 3 Teal, 4 Thia, 5 Zoe, 6 Zephyrus, 7 Hermes, 8 Ceres, 9 Thalia.

Sunday 18th May

Not much wind to go out on. Some stayed at their moorings but Thia fresh in the water joined the fleet.

To get a good view of the race all that is needed is a bad start. That was easily achieved. On the water race officer Peter Proctor had set a course starting on Z to A and then to G and back; a sensibly short triangle. The line seemed ever so slightly biased towards the pin end and with bias comes temptation. Catriona and Hermes skilfully evaded temptation and went down the line in very light winds getting the start just right at the shore end. The rest of the fleet gathered at the pin. Slow boats, some trying to get faster, some trying to slow down going to and fro – not a recipe for a swift start. Catriona and Hermes were away well ahead, the rest of the fleet followed across the starting line at various intervals after the gun.

The tide was strong and the wind better out in the Loch. It was about getting the timing right for heading out. Catriona led Hermes out into the Loch and then to the A mark. Some never went out: Circe leading Teal made the rear guard at A. The spinnaker leg to G made for little changes in position and Teal did not prosper at the mark having left her spinnaker up for too long and then being forced by Circe to tack her jib into the still dangling spinnaker pole.

G to A is a nearly straight line along the shore. Wind seemed tempting out on the Loch and temptation can be unkind. The further out they went the farther back they fell; not helped by the fact that some seemed to realize pretty late that they had to go through Z. Teal had stuck to the shore and gained third, Zephyrus followed closely behind with Thalia, Thia and Circe in hot pursuit. Catriona by now sailed for pleasure, while Hermes’ second place was never threatened.

The second spinnaker leg from A to G was a light wind affair not helped by two brick shaped tugs heading out to shepherd a Vanguard Class in. The wash shook out whatever air was gathering in the sails. Zephyrus kept a spirited attack on Teal but remained in fourth. On rounding at G heading out into the Loch did pay this time. Thalia went out and came in like a train just missing to catch Teal slotting in front of Zephyrus. Thia managed to keep Circe at bay.

1. Catriona 2. Hermes 3. Teal 4. Thalia 5. Zephyrus 6. Thia 7. Circe

Guest report from Jens Sutter, crew of Teal

Tuesday 13th May

No excuses or reservations about the wind this evening. A work out for the crews.

Race Officer Stewart Gibb sent us on a beat across the loch to D, north of Clynder. Catriona got the prime starting slot at the shore end of the line. Zoe retired after a Port starboard incident with Zephyrus.

Iris, who was not as prompt at the start as she usually is, fell in behind Catriona and began to drop down. Teal, meanwhile, had clear air and looked threatening to windward. Catriona has learned, over many long years, to cover Iris. We are consistent only in our faults. Catriona stayed on top of Teal. Iris benefitted from better air out in the loch and was never to be caught. Zephyrus recovered from the incident at the start to take a place from Thalia.

1 Iris, 2 Catriona, 3 Teal, 4 Zephyrus, 5 Thalia, 6 Hermes. Zoe DNF.

Sunday 11th May

Just when you were feeling optimistic about the weather, you pass one of those signs on the motorway which says ‘heavy rain forecast’. They seem to say that all the time but this afternoon they were right. Much of the time there was little breeze and in the heavy rain, none at all.

On the water Race Officer Peter Proctor set a course beginning with a beat to A, off the club. Catriona spotted the bias towards the shore end of the line and made the best start. Zephyrus was next. The second leg was off wind to C at Clynder. Here the breeze died away and places changed at random. Zephyrus maintained her second place but there was no set order thereafter. Back to the starting area, Hermes prospered and was in front of Zephyrus for the start of the second round, a repeat of the first. The wind had changed radically. Spinnakers were carried to A and the leg from A to C was now a beat. The rain did its worst with the little wind. Thalia, who had seemed quite out of it on the Shandon shore, was in second place at C. Lackadaisical spinnaker handling on the last leg soon set her back.

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

Tuesday 6th May

The was a good breeze before the start and after the finish. The Gareloch was unkind to some in between.

Race Officer Neill Ross sent us on a beat to Silvers, then back and forth across the loch. Iris and Zoe started well, Catriona got herself stuck between Hermes to windward and Zephyrus to leeward. A situation with no prospects. She backed a sail to escape. Teal and Thalia saw wind on the Clynder shore and tacked into the loch in excited anticipation. Catriona followed but was in air disturbed by Teal and so tacked back to go down the Shandon shore some way behind Iris and Zoe. It soon became clear there was no wind in the middle.

Catriona was full of hope on the downwind leg but made no impression on Iris and Zoe. The rest were in a different race.

A beat to C, off Clynder. On the fine reach in light air to the finish, pressure filled in from behind and brought Catriona up to Zoe. Iris was concerned as she saw those two advance on a line of pressure but had sufficient cushion to keep her place.

1 Iris, 2 Catriona, 3 Zoe, 4 Teal, 5 Thalia, 6 Hermes. Zephyrus DNF.