Vintage Race – Classic Keelboats
The first Vintage Race for Classic Keelboats was hosted by the newly formed Clyde Classic Keelboats Association on Saturday 19th May at Royal Gourock.
John Blackie the Garelochs’ new Convenor committed Athene to attending and encouraged others. On the day, a dubious forecast promising no wind first thing, and strong wind for the sail back wasn’t promising.
A gallant trio comprising Zephyrus, Catriona and Halcyone set off at 9am, got all but stopped in Rhu narrows, and then fortuitously were taken in tow by Kelana. Athene was expected to emerge from the marina to join them but there was no sign of her.
After a warm, sunny crossing a RIB directed the boats to empty moorings, handed over sailing instructions and invited crews ashore for pre-race refreshments.
A substantial fleet had gathered – 5 Pipers, 4 Scottish Islands, at least one Loch Long, Kelana and the gallant Garelochs.
A decent breeze from the south west had established. A race along the shore using the Club’s fixed marks was planned. The start line was between a fixed mark beyond the moorings and the Clubhouse. Moored boats either side of the line made things interesting.
The boats spread themselves along the line at the start, Zephyrus towards the shore, Catriona and Halcyone at the pin. Zephyrus called it well and made good progress on the first beat to G just short of Cloch Point. The wind was shifty, much like the Gareloch, finding the shifts and not tacking too often was key.
By the first mark the Pipers were pulling away. The Scottish Islands boats were mixing it with the Garelochs, given their large sails, not getting covered was important. On the downwind leg to D at the north end of Gourock Zephyrus and Catriona and the lead Scottish Islands were in a tussle.
Halcyone rounded the windward mark just behind the other 3 Scottish Islands. The Islands were slow to get their spinnakers drawing. Nipping to leeward with her spinnaker pulling well Halcyone drew past. By the leeward mark she had opened a decent gap.
On the second upwind leg Catriona realised going inshore offered more favourable tide and caught Zephyrus.
The windward mark on the second round, F, was closer, just beyond the Western Ferries slip. A ferry was approaching as Catriona beat up. It looked like Catriona would have to give way, Halcyone took heart, here was a chance. At the last moment the ferry turned to pass astern of Catriona, was this out of respect for the skipper’s naval hat or a sensible precaution given his look of determination.
Running back to the leeward mark positions settled. The Pipers were well ahead. Catriona, Zephyrus and the first Scottish Islands in a group. Halcyone further back but ahead of the other Scottish Islands. Passing the start line a yellow Gareloch appeared to be beating up, was she racing, no – Athene had made it after engine troubles on her crossing.
At the finish Catriona looked to be nip and tuck with the first Scottish Islands. Their final positions would be settled with a calculator. Zephyrus was second Gareloch.
As they finished the gallant trio turned promptly for home. If they weren’t quick the tide would be turning in the narrows when they got back. But the freshening, following wind made for a rapid crossing.
It had been fun to sail in a mixed fleet on someone else’s patch. No boats were injured, no voices raised. It had been a good day out.