Report from Teal’s crew
And is it not a deceptive Loch! The weather forecast promised steady and true wind. Alas, the Gareloch had other ideas.
Race Officer Neill Ross did a wonderful job using the starting preparations to take some of his wonderful sailing photographs while carefully choosing one of the classic westerly courses L8. The fleet had come out with several stand-in helmsmen: Catriona with Tristan Somerville at the helm, Teal with Reay MacKay.
Catriona led the field with a well-timed start and it did not seem as if she would have to look back at all. Yet the wind proved much more fickle and boats started changing places. Catriona managed to fend off any attempts by Dione to pass her but closer to D the wind was variable and Dione rounded just ahead of Catriona. Teal was not far behind.
Thia coming across the Loch on starboard managed to force Luna tacking for the shore. Inshore alas did not pay. Thia widened her lead on Luna towards the D mark. Hermes had banked on fair winds and no adverse tide on the Shandon shore. But coming across in one long tack to D she was behind.
Spinnaker manoeuvres were reasonably sleek, Catriona chasing Dione, Teal aiming a bit higher to come in on a more favourable gybe to the G mark. The third sail was a bit fine on the way back to the line but it still pulled. Thia held her ground in a solid fourth. Hermes chased Luna.
His tactician did not always aid Catriona’s stand-in helmsman. We use boards with a fairly visible signal ‘S’ painted on them to signal shortened course. None was out. Yet with the wind fickle and not always strong, Catriona decided that – surely – this might be the end. She went for the favoured shore end of the line and a finish that was not. Teal went straight for the Y mark for the next round. Catriona’s advantage melted like ice cream on a hot summer’s day.
From Y to A the spinnaker was of no use, boats heeling badly with little pull for it. Some took it down earlier some later but down they came. Rounding A, Dione was firming on her lead. Catriona, just ahead of Teal tried to force her into a tack but subsequently suffered in Teal’s wind and had to tack again. Thia was following the pack but a stretch of light wind had left her trailing behind.
Trailing further behind, Luna and Hermes decided that one round was just what was needed to deserve dinner and headed for the moorings.
Rounding the D mark, boats were still close enough to make for interesting racing. Torn between chasing Dione and tackling Catriona for points, Teal went tactical and tried to bring misery to Catriona. That worked. She carried her adversary past the layline … and further still. Catriona tried to untangle herself gybing to port but there was no room to get past and so she gybed back. Sounds of displeasure rang out across the water.
Dione sailed home an uncontested first. Teal gybed for the mark at the last possible point for her spinnaker to hold and pull and she never looked back. Catriona took third with Thia coming in later still.
1 Dione, 2 Teal, 3 Catriona, 4 Thia. DNF Hermes & Luna.