The Gare Loch was attractive in the sunshine with glassy water and moving patterns of ripples. That is all very well but does not encourage sailing. The Sonars stayed ashore, the Pipers came to the starting area and went back. The Garelochs stayed a while and told themselves there was wind, but not enough to start a race.
Eventually, there was sufficient sustained pressure for On the Water Race Officer Carol Rowe to send us on a short windward/leeward course down and back up the loch. Teal and Catriona led into the starting line. Teal a little early, Catriona taking care not to get to windward and be pushed over the line.
The two set off down the loch in the best of the air. Catriona edged ahead in slightly more favourable tide. Others, who went for better tide further out in the loch, suffered from lack of pressure. Thia also beneffited from sailing closer to the shore.
Downwind to the finish spinnakers were set but gravity was their dominant influence.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Thia, 4 Hermes, 5 Ceres, 6 Thalia.
It seems we have had wind blowing from the Shandon shore frequently this year. So it was again. Race Officer Alan Yendell was constrained to setting a course beginning with a reach to A, off the club. The upshot, the perfect start was at the pin end of the line with speed. Only Hermes achieved that. Zoe had speed but a little further along the line. The rest of us were either blanketing each other or had slowed to avoid premature starting.
Zoe was the first to A with Hermes very well placed for the run downwind to C, off Clynder. She did not set a spinnaker so that was that. A charge from Thia on the first leg faded. Halcyone was in front of Teal, who is always a contender.
Slick spinnaker work from Zoe’s crew, Simon Jackson, ensured she kept her lead to the downwind mark. Skill from crew on Catriona, Laura Cammidge, kept the gap small.
The windward leg to the finish was the best Alan could have selected. Zoe and Catriona separated on different tacks. When they came together again, starboard advantage and a lift in the wind at the key moment put Catriona in front. Halcyone had kept Teal at bay. There was time for a second, similar, round. On the downwind leg, Halcyone had trouble with her spinnaker, which allowed Teal to pass.
1 Catriona, 2 Zoe, 3 Teal, 4 Halcyone, 5 Thalia, 6 Hermes, 7 Athene, 8 Thia.
Guest report from Teal
A difficult evening for the Race Office (RO) with wind from the east (and shifty and variable!). The RO eventually selected course L3 with a downwind start from Y to D that should have allowed some beating on legs back. Most boats seemed wary of beating in to Y given the shifts and the risk of headers, and opted to run in from closer to the shore. With the exception of Hermes who came in on the beat and hit Y bang on time. The others approach higher and more downwind, Teal and Halcyone leading. Teal was the best of the bunch as she approach the line with Halcyone just below and behind. Hermes sailed on before bearing away above Teal.
So Hermes and Teal leading – depending on the wind shifts – with Hermes higher but behind and Halcyone challenging. Thalia following and finding good wind and going strongly, climbed up on Halcyone and Hermes to attempt to pass. Catriona a long way back after a poor start – but now with good wind – attempted to go low and attempt to undercut the fleet and looked dangerous for a while but the wind eased and started to benefit the higher boats and her challenge faded again somewhat.
At this point the Gareloch and its wind had a change of plan and, perhaps influenced by a large black cloud behind the peninsula, dropped and then swung through 180 degrees to head the fleet and turn the leg in to a beat to D! Kites had to be dropped. Catriona closer to the Clynder shore – and theoretically higher – again looked good but in practice the boats further out in the loch had better wind. Teal leading. As they headed back on starboard towards the Clynder shore Catriona had to duck Hermes. Hermes tacked to cover but had to then tack for Teal. At this point Teal decided to loosely cover Catriona rather than Hermes and Hermes managed to find some better wind to get in to the lead. Catriona tacked and headed back to the Clynder shore where she found a large hole and never really figured in contention again. The approach to D was characterised by light variable wind, occasional streaks and strong ebb tide taking boats approaching D sideways down the loch. Hermes round first with a good lead, then Teal, then Thalia. Now to G across the loch.
Hermes did not manage to get her spinnaker up quickly, whereas Teal did, and used it to make the most of the wind and catch up. Thalia also following strongly. At this point – with the leading 3 boats in the middle of the loch and the pack back around the D mark – the Gareloch and wind again had other ideas! Which was for the wind to AGAIN swing 180 degrees, now directly from the G mark. Just as Hermes raised her spinnaker. Teal struggling in the now very light air to keep clear of Hermes ahead and to leeward, decided to foot off for speed and then – spotting wind up the loch and figuring that the tide meant the need to head up the loch – tacked and crossed behind Hermes. Hermes eventually tacked but when Teal tacked back she easily crossed Hermes. Teal tacked well in front of Thalia on the starboard lay-line to G and still well ahead of Hermes who was now going well approaching on the port lay line.
The boats behind were however not having such fun back at D which was the epicentre of a large calm windless hole. The RO had spotted this and, using a mobile assistant RO on a RIB, decided to shorten the course at the G mark so that boats back at D could potentially be rescued. So Teal crossed first followed by Hermes and then Thalia. A Gareloch classic?
1 Teal 2 Hermes 3 Thalia 4 Zoe 5 Halcyone 6 Catriona 7 Athene 8 Thia 9 Ceres
It was one of those days when, had it not been a race, we might all have stayed in and read the Sunday papers. The rain was as forecast but there was much better wind than expected.
On the water Race Officer Roger Kinns selected a course zig zagging across the loch, beginning with a windward leg to Clynder. Just after the start, the wind backed so that we were able to make the first mark without tacking. That was to the benefit of boats unable to get to the windward end of the starting line. Of those, Catriona did best and stretched her lead in clear air. Teal, unable to capitalise on her optimum start, found she had to defend against against the fleet on the downwind legs.
Hermes sailed in unfavourable air on the first leg and struggled until the end of the round when she got back a couple of places. She gave them back by not setting a spinnaker when going downwind on the second round.
Ceres complained of growth below the water line, despite skilled crew Wells Grogan, she was never in contention.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Thalia. 4 Zephyrus, 5 Thia, 6 Hermes, 7 Ceres.
Race Officer Eric Boinard was able to choose one of the longer courses. Wind was blowing towards mark D, north of Clynder. From there back to the starting area was the last leg of the round. The first a fine reach to A, off the club. Starting well was thus essential. Many were over cautious which let Catriona away with Athene showing strongly.
The leading boat finished the first round in a little over half an hour so that Eric sent us round again. By now, Catriona had a large lead over Teal with Athene nor far behind.
It would be uncharacteristic of the Gareloch not to throw a spanner in the works. The wind around D was reducing. On the approach, Catriona kept tripping over her spinnaker. Then she carelessly allowed the tide to sweep her on to the mark. The penalty turn in light air alerted Teal to the danger and allowed her to take the lead. By the time the two were sufficiently far out into the loch for sails to fill again, Teal’s lead was substantial. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet was suffering at D. Hermes was was pushed sideways onto the mark by the tide.
Wind to the finish was now more variable than usual. Which is very variable. It was unkind to Teal, who was crossed just before the finish line. Hermes recovered from her penalty turn to take third. Athene lost out.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Hermes, 4 Thalia, 5 Athene, 6 Thia, 7 Ceres.
Good wind, but blowing from the west. Those hills on the west shore cause variability of strength and direction.
On the water Race Officer Roger Kinns selected a course zig zagging across the loch. Beginning with a windward leg to Clynder. The shore end of the starting line was the place to be and, predictably, Teal and Catriona fought over it. Catriona got to the inner end but when she tacked, she had Teal on her lee bow and fell back in disturbed air.
Teal had a good lead by the first mark. Thalia had been well placed for most of the leg but fell foul of huge headers approaching the mark.
Under spinnaker, back across the loch, the leading boats came close. There was a stooshie at the leeward mark which ended with a protest.
Wind on the Clynder shore was becoming light. Catriona managed to ghost round and get away. The rest of the fleet got the worst of it. Teal kept her place, Athene could not quite make her challenge on Thalia stick.
1 Catriona (subject to protest), 2 Teal, 3 Thalia, 4 Athene, 5 Hermes, 6 Ceres, 7 Thia.
The Gareloch class was not put off by blustery wind and rain. Unseasonal as it might have been. Eight boats turned out.
With wind from the Shandon shore, a start to windward was not possible. We began with a fine reach to A, off the club. It was not necessary to be at a particular point on the starting line, although the shore end was to be avoided because of lighter, more variable air. In these circumstances, there was no excuse for Halcyone and Catriona being over early. Returning set them both back. Zephyrus, Thalia, Thia and Hermes were in the first group to round A for the downwind leg across the loch to Clynder. Zoe and Athene had suffered by keeping too close to the shore. Halcyone and Catriona were taking their medicine.
Downwind, it was about spinnakers. Hermes did not deploy hers and Thia took her time. Those who got the best from their third sails saw the water run up their counters, thus increasing the waterline length. Garelochs do not go much faster.
Catriona had taken two places on the run downwind. She turned inside Thalia for the windward leg back to the starting area and was able to make progress in clear air. She edged into the lead.
There was time for a second, similar round. Spinnakers were needed downwind with the air heavy enough to expose small errors. Zephyrus is set up to look traditional. She has a mitre cut jib and honey coloured sheets. She has Tufnol cam cleats which look the part, but do not feature in the Harken or Ronstan catalogues for a reason. More than once, her spinnaker landed in the water when the halyard let go. Thalia’s spinnaker, on occasion, took its inspiration from an hourglass. Zoe’s crew was visiting from New Zealand and, so she said in the bar afterwards, was confused about which way was up.
1 Catriona, 2 Zephyrus, 3 Zoe, 4 Thalia, 5 Halcyone, 6 Athene, 7 Hermes, 8 Thia.
We began with up to 20 knots of wind. It was blowing down the loch, which always creates a swell. Some crew did not fancy it and some boats did not turn out. On the Water Race Officer Peter Proctor chose a good course, beginning with a long leg to windward to E, the northern most mark on the Clynder shore. The starting line was without bias so that all those who wanted a good start could have one. Teal, Halcyone and Catriona set off across the loch, keen to cover each other. The others went up the Shandon Shore. On the approach to E, Catriona was leading her group, but needed binoculars to see the sail numbers of the other three. Zephyrus leading.
By this time, wind had lightened and spinnakers were perfectly manageable. The leading three, unaccountably, had misplaced the next mark and ventured far too far up the loch. The trailing three sailed straight for it. Catriona benefitted from her spinnaker. Teal less so because she lost a sheet under the boat in a way which cannot be explained. For the third leg, downwind to the starting area, the want of spinnakers on Hermes and Zephyrus and a luffing match between Zephyrus and Thalia brought the leading group back on terms with at least two of the trailing three. There was time for a second, shorter round.
On the next windward leg, Teal and Catriona did not repeat their earlier error of judgement and sailed in a favourable area of the loch. As we rounded the windward mark, the finishing order was mostly set.
1 Catriona, 2 Thalia, 3 Teal, 4 Zephyrus, 5 Hermes, 6 Halcyone.
A wonderful evening for racing. Sunshine and wind.
In the absence of a race officer on shore, Craig MacDonald on board a Sonar selected one of the longer courses, zig-zagging across the Gareloch to the northern most mark near Rahane. The other classes followed suit and we took our timing from him.
With wind off the Shandon shore, the first leg was necessarily downwind. Teal made the best start but was just a cat’s whisker slower under spinnaker than Catriona. There was a couple of boat lengths in it over the length of the leg. That allowed Catriona to get away in clear air on the beat back across the loch. Zoe, meanwhile, had done well without resort to her coloured sail and Halcyone always looked dangerous. After her win on the previous Tuesday, Thia was not satisfied with being towards the back.
The fleet approached E, the mark near Rahane, from an unfamiliar direction. We all went high, Catriona and Teal spotted the mark first but the rest seemed not to believe them and continued towards Faslane. That promoted Teal to second after she had suffered in poor air on the previous windward leg.
There was time for a second, shorter, round. Hermes had had enough, though. Thalia lost places here.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Zoe, 4 Halcyone, 5 Thia, 6 Thalia, 7 Ceres. Hermes Rtd.
A slightly adventurous passage race has become an annual event for the class. Seven Garelochs were well looked after by support boats Blue Iris, Full Circle, Kiri and St. Bridget.
We started in the Gareloch at nine, so as to make the most of the ebb tide before it turned at noon. Position in the race was all about finding favourable wind and tide. Large gaps appeared between boats and the order could change the next time they crossed tacks. Zephyrus soon showed ability to call it right by steering a course well away from the Rosneath shore. Others, notably Catriona, called it wrongly by taking a shorter line and suffering from light air in the lee of the shore. Thalia and Hermes had done well here but gave away part of their advantage in a luffing match.
At first, we all struggled in light air with a substantial chop in the water. Making forward progress was frustrating. Selecting the right area of the Clyde in which to sail became important. In general, those who favoured the Gourock shore did better than those drawn to Kilcreggan and Cove. Thalia, who had been on terms with Zephyrus and way ahead of the rest, lost a big lead in this way.
Past the Cloch, wind built so that water broke over the foredecks as we punched through the waves.
Race Officer Tim Henderson had selected navigation marks off Wemyss Point and Knock Castle to be left to starboard so as to corral the fleet and allow him to shorten. It is ironic that Thalia, who made a point of buying a new chart so as to be confident of finding these marks, missed the first of them. Zoe transgressed in this way, too.
Off Knock Castle, the wind left us so that Tim finished us. It was remarkable, after the large gaps which had developed, that the fleet closed here so that conversations could be held between boats.
We enjoyed our dinner in Largs Sailing Club, when Francoise Proctor presented the McGruer Trophy to Iain Macfarlane, crew of Zephyrus. Catriona and Athene collected prizes for second and third places.