The Gareloch class was host to visitors from the Howth 17 Footers (the oldest one design keelboat) and the Freundeskreis Klassische Yachten. The plan was for nine races so that each team raced each other team three times.
Saturday morning started with a brisk wind in the Clyde so that Race Officer Jean Mackay, aboard Jim Findlay’s Full Circle, moved racing from the East patch (off Helensburgh pier) to the more sheltered Gareloch. Conditions were benign as our two visiting teams left the moorings for the first race. Soon after the start a wind from the north funnelled down the loch with a strength far too great for meaningful team racing. At the end of the first round, Jean finished them and sent the boats back to their moorings. Crews lunched in the clubhouse with a view to assessing things in the afternoon. There was a flat patch in Camsail bay but the Gareloch was still lively so that racing was called off for the day. It was planned to get two quick races on Sunday Morning before the Irish visitors had to leave. Meanwhile, there was a cruise around the sugar boat in Jamie Grant’s Kelana (which was our hotel boat), John Hammond’s Clearwater and Ufo and Miriam Sutter’s Tiffany Aching. There was space for anyone who wanted to be on the water.
Wind on Sunday morning was kinder. The Gareloch class raced each of the visiting teams in true air. The downwind legs in particular provided opportunity for team race tactics as boats from behind took the wind of those in front. Helms balanced the need to luff to keep their air clear against making progress towards the finish. The Garelochs won both to retain the David Ryder-Turner trophy for the match against the FKY. We won back the trophy for the match against the Howth 17s which we had lost last year racing the 17s in their home waters.
The last of the normal Tuesday evening races although the Garelochs carry on through September with an earlier start. Weather was very pleasant in the context of gardening but not conducive to a memorable race. Race Officer Peter Proctor was very patient and waited for enough movement of air to send us on the shortest course to the club and back.
With tide more prominent than wind, both Catriona and Halcyone hit the starting mark. Luna took advantage. Thia was late, having tarried too long on her mooring thinking there would be no race.
1 Catriona, 2 Luna, 3 Halcyone, 4 Thia.
On the water Race Officer Iain MacGillivray had trouble choosing a course as wind changed direction. It was blowing from the Shandon shore so that a start to windward was not possible. Iain settled on a short course to C, at the north end of Clynder, and back. Teal had the best position on the starting line but Catriona somehow got away, despite being slow with her spinnaker.
Off Clynder, the water was like a mirror but oddly there was sufficient steady current of air to make significant progress. Catriona was round first from teal, the rest rather further back.
The wind had veered to make the return leg a fetch. Spinnakers could be set to begin with. A short tack was needed at the end on account of variable wind off the Shandon shore. There was a second round but no changes of place.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Dione, 4 Ceres, 5 Halcyone.
A trying day on the East Patch for the Race Officer, Simon Pender. He managed two starts for the one design classes in the brief moments when wind was sufficiently steady to set a course.
Catriona was almost swept the wrong side of the Committee Boat at the finish of the first but was able to avoid a tack to take a win from a charging (relatively speaking) Dione.
There was even less wind for the second race. Catriona got away best from Dione. The tide was different on either side of the course on account of the swirl which forms off Helensburgh. Dione was caught in the adverse eddy. Catriona covered her so that Athene, in better breeze and tide, took a strong lead. Downwind movement over the ground was dominated by tide. As Athene arrived at the downwind mark, there was very little movement of air and she was swept past. Catriona arrived on the merest zephyr and was able to round and make her way back upwind to the finish.
1 Catriona, 2 Athene, 3 Dione.
Race Officer Caz Hoole, influenced by the light wind and evenings drawing in, chose one of the shorter courses to B (off Silvers) and back. With wind from the Shandon shore, it was inevitable the fixed starting line would be heavily biassed towards the pin end. Teal and Dione played it correctly, arrived in front of the pack and fought for pole position. Thalia started in the right place with boat speed. Hermes and Catriona were hopelessly blanketed and arrived down the line, late and slow.
There were holes in the wind and changes of direction. Those who moved up the order believed they achieved that by skilful reading of the wind. Those who didn’t thought they were unlucky. Anyway, Teal was strong, Dione went the wrong way, (staying too long on the Shandon shore) Halcyone and Luna looked good and Catriona used her boat speed to get up to second place.
Downwind to the starting area, Halcyone suffered for want of a spinnaker. She was single handed. Catriona closed on Teal. There was time for a second round. Teal and Catriona did their best with the changeable air. Catriona twice crossing close behind until Teal opened the gap. Catriona was heading for the Clynder shore, Teal on the opposite tack so as to minimise the effect of wash from a motor launch. She delayed tacking to cover as Catriona found good pressure. Luna, in particular, went the wrong way. Ceres made most of the right decisions.
The water around B went glassy as the pack approached. Teal rounded in front of the rest but the leader was gone. Halcyone lost a place to Thalia, who benefitted from a third sail.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Ceres, 4 Dione, 5 Hermes, 6 Thalia, 7 Halcyone, 8 Thia, 9 Luna.
There was wind. Strong gusts and the usual changes of direction and local lulls made life awkward. Teal read the changes of direction correctly and got away at the favoured end of the starting line.
There was a lot of mark related interest. Firstly the E mark had dragged to end up by D and Teal – leading – had to round E first to be certain it wasn’t D! Then across the loch to G in strong wind but not before mistakenly aiming at F. Luna and Athene, after minor gear failure, went home early.
Then of course with the E mark missing a buoy had to be selected in place of the missing E mark. At this point Catriona snatched the lead with some nifty play of the gusty shifts right at the mark. Teal however gybed and headed out into the loch on port and found good pressure which allowed her to undertake Catriona before gybing back on to starboard.
There were some broaches under spinnaker in strong gusts on the final run back to Z. Catriona stayed close but could not pass. Hermes a little further back. All perhaps glad that the just over an hour had passed and the race finished after one round….
1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Hermes. Luna and Athene DNF.
A delightfully sunny evening with steady wind [editor – well, initially!]. Race officer Barrie Choules took advantage and set one of the longer courses with a windward leg to the northernmost mark on the Clynder shore.
Athene, who was at the bottom of the order in the weekend’s championship, had just been lifted out for a routine survey. She had barnacles and, in the gap between the keel and rudder, mussels. Her skipper John Blackie took the helm of Catriona for the evening.
At the start, Catriona found herself pinned below Thia. Not wishing to remain there, she bore away sharply so as to be able to tack away behind. With the urgency of her initial approach to the line now lost, she later crossed behind Hermes and then Teal. The others had gone a different way but most looked ahead too. John used Catriona’s boat speed to squeeze to windward past Teal and was comfortably first at the mark. Despite confusion over the location of the second mark, F off Shandon church, Catriona was never challenged. Teal and Hermes had a battle on the spinnaker reach to F. Teal, with an advantageous inside overlap at the mark, took second place and managed to hold onto it by a slim margin at the finish. Dione, with guest helm Reay Mackay, was able to take a place from Luna under spinnaker.
1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Hermes, 4 Thalia, 5 Dione, 6 Luna, 7 Ceres, 8 Thia.
Many congratulations to our winner Catriona (Charles Darley) and in a very well deserved and popular 2nd place Hermes (Carol Rowe)!
Full race results and report to follow.
Race Officer Shane Rankin took advantage of a steady wind from the north west to set a course beginning with a windward leg to D, north of Clynder. The shore end of the fixed starting line was favoured and Catriona took to best place. Dione was close behind but tacked away down the line and was well to leeward at the gun. Most of the fleet ventured across the loch to begin with and were keen to stay in touch with each other. Luna thought to try the Shandon shore (often a tactic of Hermes) and it paid in spades. She crossed the loch to D well to the north of the fleet and in much better wind than the rest. In that group, Hermes and Ceres looked strong, Dione struggling to recover from her start. Thalia went close to the Clynder shore on a sight seeing trip (that is what her skipper said afterwards) and predictably lost wind.
This was Luna’s to lose. She rounded D with a large lead for the spinnaker reach to G on the Shandon shore and then home. Her first error was to be led astray by the Sonars, who sail a windward/leeward course and were not going to G. By the time she realised, she was too low on the mark to keep her spinnaker and a charging Catriona closed the gap. The mark rounding was easy, needing just a large bear away rather than a gybe. By the time Luna had re-hoisted her spinnaker, Catriona was past.
Hermes, meanwhile, had photogenic trouble with her third sail at the beginning of the reach. To the advantage of Dione and Ceres.
Dione was too far behind to make any impression on Luna, barring further errors of which there were none.
1 Catriona, 2 Luna, 3 Dione, 4 Ceres, 5 Hermes, 6 Thia, 7 Thalia.
On the water Race Officer Barrie Choules selected one of the longer courses, zig-zagging across the loch. A good wind blowing from the Shandon shore meant a start with spinnakers. Catriona got away well with Thalia and Halcyone close by. Dione’s start was less than ideal, her skipper’s excuse was that he was distracted by being Race Officer. Anyway, he took a flyer, going early towards the Clynder shore. As is usually the case, it might have paid but it didn’t.
Just after D, the first rounding mark, it began to rain. Water bouncing off the surface of the loch. That dampened both wind and crews. As it eased, wind filled in from behind and brought Thalia, Halcyone and Dione up to the leader. Luna not far behind. Athene and Hermes had found a lull on the Clynder shore.
Catriona managed to accelerate away and kept her lead at G, the second mark, ready for a fetch back across the loch to E, the most northerly mark on the Clynder shore. The chasing pack were held back by ever lighter air, especially around E. Catriona was half way back across the loch on the way to the finish before the chasing three had rounded. In the way of the Gareloch, a line of good pressure formed near the west shore so that the three made rapid progress to windward (Halcyone catching Thalia on port tack to take second) whilst Catriona contemplated the subtle ripples of her bow wave. She picked up speed as the breeze moved across the loch. It was sufficiently on the beam for a spinnaker to work, which helped to save her first place.
Hermes, meanwhile, suffered confusion at D and continued on to E before making her way across the loch to G. Fancying herself in a sketch by Morecambe and Wise, featuring André Previn, she went round all the right marks, but not necessarily in the right order.
1 Catriona, 2 Halcyone, 3 Thalia, 4 Dione, 5 Luna. Athene and Hermes DNF