Tue 15th Jun

Eight boats turned out for Tuesday the 15th’s evening race, with the expectation of strong gusts and rain settling in later.

A course of L5 was set by the super efficient race officer on shore and, in a light breeze, seven boats started nicely on the line, like a swan with her goslings, whilst the ugly duckling of the fleet followed somewhat later, in dying airs. The breeze that is……

However, Luna had a cunning plan. Knowing full well there’d be a big header on the way to A ( ok, so she just got lucky!), she tacked in shore, found some air and made it to the mark just behind Halcyone. Catriona was already round and in the lead, as is not unusual, looking for some wind for her kite. As, in due course, we all were.

In ever decreasing zephyrs on the run to G, Teal and Thalia crept past Luna, who went a bitty inshore to miss the tide.

On the beat (more like a drift) back to the line, the order remained the same, though Dione made strides and almost stole Luna’s 5th place….but not quite! (round of applause, please).

No time for a second round, which was fine because although the wind didn’t materialize, the rain started as the last man stepped ashore!

1 Catriona, 2 Halcyone, 3 Teal, 4 Thalia, 5 Luna, 6 Dione, 7 Thia, 8 Ceres Continue reading

Sun 13th Jun

Those of us who had been sailing in the Mudhook YC Regatta the day before were perhaps less easily fooled by the warm summery day on shore. Afloat the breeze was stiff. And the gusts were stiffer. But a grand summer day on the Gareloch. Champagne sailing. Again.

Teal volunteered to be race officer and suggested H6. A long course and why not in glorious wind. But while she was sailing across the loch Dione also volunteered and suggested the same course, so Teal happily acquiesced.

The fixed line was biased and the Z mark was the place to be for the beat up to B off Silvers. Much jostling. Catriona led in but was early and tacked to circle. Teal following was wary of a superbly positioned Halcyone who could close her out. Teal wiggled to get behind Halcyone who – wary of being hooked – dropped. All started well with Teal ahead but lower and Catriona’s manoeuvring bring her to the pin and behind but high. Zephryus in the mix too. Dione perhaps a little distracted by her RO duties?

Teal tacked to head to Rosneath – ducking Catriona – and Catriona tacked to cover. The fleet mostly following. When Teal tacked to starboard to head towards the Rhu channel she had done enough to force Catriona to tack too. Zephyrus was charging across close behind. Teal sailed Catriona past the layline – rounding an annoyingly placed boat which was fishing and got in the way of the action for some of the fleet!

Down to F on a long run – the furthest N on the Shandon shore. Teal and Catriona both launched kites. No stronger than yesterday but perhaps a little fresh for some of the fleet. Charles Darley on Catriona demonstrating once again his skill and experience by doing so single-handed. They perhaps didn’t do much to begin with (at hull speed?!) but as the wind eased on the far shore they helped Catriona pull clear of Zephyrus.

Up to C. Teal covering Catriona. Not easy for anyone in some incredibly shifty gusts (both strength and direction) which tested skill and patience. Then to Y on a fine reach.  Not much opportunity to pass – provided you defended your wind. Ceres has recently been going very well as new owner and skipper Paul Blackburn settles in. But he learnt a lesson there as Dione got an overlap. We have all been there.

Back to B. Teal covering Catriona. Catriona sailed a brilliant tack across to Rosneath – concentrating on every shift and gust (and without the temptation of the leading boat to watch the boat you are covering?!). Teal spotted the trap of a tack onto starboard by Catriona and chose her moment to go herself. Sailing an inside line she squeezed up to the lay line to deny Catriona wind and an overlap. An aggressive last-ditch charge from Catriona to try and get inside the mark (without having an overlap at the zone) saw her skipper sportingly accept that penalty turns were necessary. And that meant Teal was clear to head to C and back to the finish.

Zephyrus continued her strong day to take 3rd. Then Dione 4th. Behind, Halcyone also sailed a brilliant beat (also single- handed) to pass Ceres. Ceres finishing 6th but taking encouragement from having been 4th at times and being in the mix with strong boats (and finishing within minutes of them).

1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Zephyrus, 4 Dione, 5 Halcyone, 6 Ceres, 7 Luna

Garelochs @ the Mudhook YC Saturn Sails Regatta (Sat 12th Jun)

The annual Mudhook regatta, a prestigious event, is a two day affair.  It took place on the East Patch, with a starting line between Helensburgh and Craigendoran Piers.  The Garelochs decided to take part only on Saturday, so as to be able to have the usual points series race on Sunday.

A superbly well attended event.  In particular there were large fleets of Etchells and 707s. 4 Garelochs turned out, Catriona, Thalia, Teal and Dione.  We were given our own start. Three good races on the same  course with a long beat to windward, to a navigation mark south of Rosneath Point.

A Gareloch owner watching from the shore thought it a sunny, mild day.  For those on the water, it was blowing.  Side decks were wet.  Significant chop, too.   Unless you have spent a lifetime sailing there, the winds and currents on the east patch are a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.  For the first two races, tide was flooding.  The favoured path to windward was towards the north side of the course with a tack at the key place near the Rosneath shore.  Too soon and the adverse tide set you back.  Too late and there was wind shadow from the land.  Those who got it wrong could not read the sail numbers of the leaders.  Sailing to windward through the short seas another skill which could do with improvement.  In retrospect, none of us were good enough at shifting weight in the boat.  Sitting to windward is the obvious bit.  We could have gone a cat’s whisker faster moving weight back when surfing downwind.  The official Gareloch Coach, Mark Greenhalgh, would have been frustrated.  Its not as if he hasn’t told us before. It was strong enough wind to test our spinnaker handling.  The third sail was essential on the off wind legs so there was no avoiding it.  None of us were fault free.

Anyway, by the third race, tide had turned.   Catriona, thinking to be a smart alec, stayed further south on the beat so as to get more benefit from the ebb.  It made no difference.

The Garelochs are used to lower budget events, where the same line is used for starting and finishing.  Some, in the first race, thought to go through the starting line at the end of the first round.  That was not necessary and set back those who had not read their sailing instructions.  The Mudhook benefitted from two committee vessels and set up a finishing line away from the start.

It was unquestionably close racing. The top three, Catriona, Teal and Dione each beat each other in at least one of the races.  Right up until the end, the three might have been equal on points.  Downwind to the finish Dione had a problem with the cleat of her spinnaker halyard so that whilst close, she was out of it.  Teal was leading with Catriona catching quickly on the surf.  That did not last, so Teal took the win and with it, the regatta.

1 Teal, 2 Dione, 3 Catriona, 4 Thalia.

(PS Detailed results via Mudhook YC regatta event page

…or direct at https://www.halsail.com/Result/Club/1534 )

Tue 8th June

Race report from the Race Officer

To begin there was a good breeze from the SSW (despite a grey damp evening) and a course to B at Silvers was chosen. Eight boats took part and after the manouvering and a congested approach to the line Catriona and Dione were over the line. It took a little time for them to clear the starters and return to cross the line and by that time the others were well on their way across the loch.

Dione chose to sail down the east shore towards the mooring field and Catriona headed across the loch well towards the shore (out of the flooding tide?). By the time the boats were heading back it was apparent that the east shore had not been kind to Dione and that Catriona was better placed. By the end of the first round Catriona was leading from Teal, Halcyone, Thia, Thalia. Dione being in 6th place ahead of Ceres and Luna.

A second round with Catriona and Teal taking different paths back across the loch to the start line. By now the tide was flooding and the question was raised as to whether Teal was being swept too far up the loch. However that may not have been the case and Teal crossed the line ahead of Catriona. Halcyone retained her third position with Thia losing out to Dione and Thalia with Ceres and Luna following. 16 minutes from the first to the last. 

1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Halcyone, 4 Dione, 5 Thalia, 6 Thia, 7 Ceres, 8 Luna

PS and a special note of thanks  from me (Web Admin/Iain) to Carol Rowe – the Race Officer – for her choice of course (one of the Specials and a shorter sausage course) which, with a forecast of dying wind, ensured we had two good rounds of racing and weren’t left somewhere up the Gareloch in a windless hole!

Sun 6th June

(Report from Zephryus)
Well, what a beautiful afternoon, sun was shining and a light breeze on the Gareloch, lovely conditions for what was, for Zephyrus the first outing of the season.

The race officer set us on a beat across the loch to B. There was a bit of confusion around the start, I think the race officer was having similar problems with their start watch as we were. Catriona and Teal made it across the line first, at the back with Zephyrus were Dione and Hermes. The majority of boats tacked quickly after crossing the start, Zephyrus at the back decided to try something different and continued along the shore. It paid off as we approached B and rounded the mark fourth, behind Catriona, Halcyone and Luna. All boats launched their spinnakers, some sleeker than others and those who managed a sleek launch benefited greatly. A spinnaker jibe was required on the run to G, good conditions for those of us who need a bit of practice in jibing the spinnaker.  Some boats decided to eke out the potential benefits of the spinnaker and kept it up for the reach to C, some benefited more from this than others and certainly resulted in a few changes in positions.

Time allowed for another round, though by this time Catriona at the front of the race was the clear leader. The second rounding of B saw some boats launching their spinnaker, others not and there did not seem to be a huge benefit this time round, well at least for those of us at the back of the race. Zephyrus did benefit from Thia’s troubled spinnaker launch, resulting in Thia dropping position to Zephyrus.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Teal, 4 Halcyone, 5 Luna, 6 Hermes, 7 Thalia, 8 Ceres, 9 Zephyrus, 10 Thia

Sun 6th June – results awaiting report!

(Awaiting the race report from Barbara who Charles kindly volunteered.)

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Teal, 4 Halcyone, 5 Luna, 6 Hermes, 7 Thali, 8 Ceres, 9 Zephyrus, 10 Thia

Tue 1st June – awaiting report!

<still awaiting report>

1 Halcyone, 2 Catriona, 3 Teal, 4 Thia, 5 Luna, 6 Hermes, 7 Thalia, 8 Ceres, 9 Dione.

Sun 30th May

From the leaky bowels of Luna……

Racing: Catriona, Circe Ceres , Dione, Halcyone, Hermes, Luna.
Conditions: Gentle Breeze from the Southwest. Sunshine. Fresh air and fun.

A close start on L6 took the fleet up to B at Silvers Boat Yard. Catriona round first and then gained further on the long run to G, the only boat using spinnaker on this leg and whose lead therefore stretched. The breeze and tide accounted for places swapping about, as it were, with boats being headed up the loch on both rounds. Circe was with us and then she was not for the second round. Too much fresh air and fun perhaps.

Luna was holding onto second but a spinnaker pole malfunction rather than seamanship (you know who is drafting this Report), started to cost her places. Halycone, as with last year racing with seemingly no one aboard, contested for second place, overtaking Luna but then losing out to Dione on the finishing leg. Halycone hoisted a spinnaker on the same leg and we all spotted her skipper, albeit briefly. Hermes closed on Luna at the last but not sufficiently to pass her or to mount a protest, something which will have been doubly disappointing to her skipper.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Halycone, 4 Luna, 5 Hermes.
Circe Ceres DNF.

Tue 25th May

A frustrating evening for Race Officer Hugh Normand.  Wind did not do what was forecast.  There was a breeze to take us to the starting area which died away to leave the Sonars and then Garelochs ghosting across the starting line.  Hugh had set a course back and forth across the Gareloch.  Catriona was the first to develop momentum.  As pressure increased on what was now a fetch to the first mark on the Clynder shore her lead grew and grew.  Ceres was next away from Thalia.  The rest suffering more or less from the still air in the starting area.
The second leg, a reach back across the loch (with little scope for changes in position) followed by a run downwind to B mark, off Silvers.  Ceres had kept her second place at the start of the run but needs more practice with the spinnaker.  Thalia closed although Ceres was still in front when Thalia dropped her kite (a little early) for the mark rounding.  How Ceres allowed herself to be passed here is a mystery.
Wind was still firm as Catriona approached the line at the end of the fist round but backed and lightened to nothing thereafter. The first four continued on a second round.   It was soon clear that could not be completed within the time limit.  Paddles were used to go home.
1 Catriona, 2 Thalia, 3 Ceres, 4 Dione, 5 Hermes, 6 Halcyone, 7 Thia.

Sun 23rd May

The forecast caused deliberations. Teal’s skipper and crew exchanged messages. Her crew wisely noted that wind and rain was better than rain and no wind. Thalia decided the forecast potential for 30 knot gusts was too much and decided to keep her powder dry. As Teal’s crew walked down the pier to the moorings her skipper opined that they were sheltered from the (SSE) wind blowing over Rhu’s eponymous spit** and that once away from the sheltered mornings it could be a bit heavier. Indeed. 

Five boats rigged and turned out for the start. Charles Darley on Catriona offered to be RO and a suggestion of H4 (ZAFZ) – offering a largely up-down course with good beats and runs – was agreed. The shore end was favoured and the line could could just be laid. Everyone came in on starboard with Catriona leading the lower bunch. Teal came in higher with good momentum on top of Catriona and led in towards the favoured shore end. Everyone tacked. Teal covering Catriona. Which in the gusty shifty wind wasn’t ideal for the covered boat. The wind seemed to head as we headed towards A and the Rhu narrows (perhaps a deflected wind off Tom na h-Airidh provided a lift closer in?) and A couldn’t quite be laid. Teal consolidated rounding first from Catriona. Dione, Halcyone and Hermes following. 

The run from A to F (the furthest NE mark) was exciting in strengthening wind and gusts. Teal raised her spinny first on port and then gybed to starboard. Catriona followed. Dione had some fun and admitted “to a fairly significant broach and spinnaker drop that resulted in strings in the wrong places (halyard over the boom)”. But that it “certainly blew the cobwebs away”! Halcyone overtook (but in the strong wind and gusts eventually decided to head in along with Hermes).

Teal rounded F with a good lead on Catriona. And Catriona likewise on the rest. The beat now was in strong gusty wind. The weather helm from the GOD’s large main was noticeable and a full main knocking the boat over wasn’t doing much either; Teal adjusted the rig to balance. Up to Z and then up further to A again. Teal rounded well ahead. Catriona didn’t make things any easier by carelessly letting a trailing spinnaker sheet touch the A mark. Rustiness with the spinnaker was admitted.

Back down on a shorter leg to G and back to Z again. Places well established with Teal from Catriona from Dione. Teal crossed the line within an hour and realised that, with only an on-the-water RO and no option to shorten, a THIRD round was required by the rules. With boats strung out whether this was good or bad news depended on one’s love of racing and/or weather hardiness.

No places changed hands as the remaining boats – Teal, Catriona, Dione – went once again to A and then G and then back to the finish line at Z. 

Ashore later Teal’s skipper looked at the actual weather data from the Met Office and it had indeed been gusting up to 30 knots***. Mostly good if wet fun.

1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Dione 

Halcyone, Hermes DNF

** Rhu is an anglicisation of Gaelic “rubha” (pronounced roo-ah), literally meaning “(geographical) point/promontory/headland”.

*** …or at least at the weather station at Bishopton at the top of a 10m pole.