Category Archives: Race Reports

Tue 26th Jul

A race to forget. No race report.

Gareloch Championship – 23rd & 24th July

Report from the Secretary.

The Premier sporting and Social event of the season. Superb lift off party on Friday evening, thrown by Paul Blackburn. Incomparable barbecue at Carol Rowe’s Kilarden on Saturday evening. The barbecue first of all would not light, then burned with more vigour than was strictly necessary.

Race Officer Tim Henderson, aboard Dave Parkins’ Aquarius and assisted by Roger Kinns and Peter Proctor was pleased with the consistent direction of wind. Crews, though noticed variability. Especially near to the Clynder shore. Anyway, it was Champagne wind all weekend. Even if the rain lacked sparkle.

That variability led to a pin end bias for the first start. Catriona got the timing right and was away whilst the rest, all trying to start at the pin, were blanketing each other. Dione finished a strong second from a charging Hermes.

For the second race, the peloton had learned to start so that places changed on the first beat. The order was soon established with Dione second from a strong Teal, then Hermes. Sadly, Teal’s crew suffered acute back pain so that she was unable to finish that race or to continue in the event. It was clear now that something was amiss with Ceres, She had been last by a margin in the first two races. That problem was marine growth around the keel. Not helped by a technical issue with her main halyard which affected luff tension.

The third race had just one round. Dione started well and held the lead at the windward mark. Downwind she had an issue with the spinnaker. Its effect compromised, Catriona was able to get on her air and sneak past approaching the line. Halcyone made progress against Hermes, who had beaten her to third place in the first races.

For the fourth and last of the day, the Race Officer changed to a normal Gareloch course, started from the C mark. Thus, he was able to finish us at A, off the club. The fleet became spread. Dione and Halcyone tussled going downwind. Dione had the lead at G, which began a reach across the loch to C. With no scope for overtaking her lead became secure. Halcyone evened her score against Hermes.

More precipitation on Sunday morning, still good wind though. Athene was forced to withdraw, a shroud having come adrift from its crosstree. Afloat just before the event, she was laying a creditable sixth on Saturday evening.

Tim Henderson sent us from G, a little up the Shandon shore, to B, off Silvers. The direction of wind indicated the shore end of the line was favoured. Only Catriona went for that, the rest at the outer, committee boat, end where wind was a little stronger. Catriona was faced with having to duck some of the fleet when she tacked out from the shore. The long tack to the Clynder shore was not good for confidence, there were some large headers, but it paid. Similarly the changeable air off that shore should have been a disadvantage but it turned out not to be. Those who stuck to the Shandon shore needed binoculars to see the leaders.

Downwind, there were gusts and much of the time wind was dead astern. Some did not set spinnakers and had a good view of spectacular rocking and rolling. Dave Perry advises, in his excellent Winning in One Designs, if the rocking becomes too much, head up a little, ease the spinnaker pole forwards and pull in the main. If you want to go fast, reverse the above.

At the end of the first round the order at the front, as in other races, was Catriona, Dione, Hermes, Halcyone. Halcyone had the bit between her teeth, in the second round she battled with Dione downwind to the finish. Dione thought she should have defended more to keep her air clear. Anyway, Halcyone finished ahead by one second.

The course was the same for the sixth and final race. Wind had backed a little so that the inner end of the line was more clearly the place to start. Catriona, in the charge of Lucy Forrester, was in pole position with the fleet closer this time. She was considering calling for room to tack away from the shore when Halcyone, on her hip, tacked anyway. Then she was to windward of the fleet and the lead was more or less settled. There was a second beat to B, where Tim finished us. Dione found some large lifts on the way to the Clynder shore which eluded Catriona. She did the same along the shore and at one point looked to have the lead. That was just for the moment, though, when the swing was to Dione’s greatest advantage. Halcyone kept Hermes at bay to take third.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Halcyone, 4 Hermes, 5 Circe, 6 Thia, 7 Athene, 8 Ceres, 9 Luna, 10 Teal. The fine silver rowlock, awarded to the last placed boat which had finished all the races, went to Ceres.

Sun 17th Jul

Report from the Secretary.

On the water Race Officer Barrie Choules selected a course beginning with a true windward leg to B, off Slivers, downwind to F, the northernmost mark on the Shandon Shore, a zig-zag to the Clynder shore thence to the finish. Ideal for the conditions. There was wind but not too much.

The pin end of the starting line was strongly favoured. Dione, Hermes and Catriona all thought to get there first, all were early and made compromised starts further down the line. Catriona the worst. Teal from Halcyone got it right.

Wind and tide in the Gareloch so often confounds what should be good tactics. Dione in particular suffered by sailing into the club moorings, out of the adverse flood tide.

By the windward mark, Teal and Halcyone had maintained their strong position from the start. Catriona, quite by accident after starting at the back, found some good wind which she used to catch up.

Downwind, Halcyone and Catriona got their spinnakers drawing promptly. Halcyone took the lead on the right hand side of the leg, Catriona fought with Teal to avoid being blanketed.

Halcyone reached F first but compromised her rounding with a late drop of the spinnaker. She then found herself defending against Teal with a tack down the Shandon shore. Catriona, from further out, tacked to cover them. The rest simply hardened up at D and were almost laying the next mark. Wind on the Shandon shore was not kind to Teal, even worse for Halcyone.

Dione did well going across the loch and began the last leg in a strong second place. Hermes too was on the pace although had to give mark room to Teal.

On the approach to the Clynder shore, many thought a spinnaker would work on the last leg. It was just too fine, particularly with the usual fickleness of Gareloch wind. Teal went high, perhaps to allow for the kite later on. Hermes was able to sneak past.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Hermes, 4 Teal, 5 Circe, 6 Halcyone, 7 Luna.

Tue 12th Jul

Report from the Secretary.

An evening of sunshine and fair wind.  Race Officer Linda Pender selected a course which gave good windward legs to D, north of Clynder, in both first and second rounds.  Teal pushed Catriona along the line for a favoured shore end start.  The two, along with Halcyone,  were close together for the first part of the beat to D.  Teal then found herself a little further out on  a tack up the loch and was on the wrong side of the shifts.  Halcyone went further in and suffered more variable wind.  Dione had stayed nearer the Shandon shore and it did not pay.

By the start of the next beat to D, Catriona had a substantial lead over Teal and hardened up towards the Clynder shore.  Thinking she had loose cover, she tacked when Teal tacked.  When the two came together again for the approach to the windward mark, they were close.  No places changed though.

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

Sun 10 Jul

Report from Teal.

When the Secretary isn’t racing (umpiring at the Two Boat Team Racing?) then the winner often writes the report. But the winner was too far ahead to see much of the race behind! So it falls to one of those that suffered the slings and arrows of the wind…

The usual roster had further changes on this perfect summer day. Teal was missing regular crew Ufo Sutter – down with a good old fashioned (non-Covid) virus – but had the pleasure of Roger Kinns while Thalia is being repaired. Hermes being helmed by Carole’s nephew Donald – who always makes her go well – accompanied by his wife. There were light-hearted mutterings about whether the marriage would survive the race.

Teal took on RO duty – in Roger’s capable hands – and selected a classic NW course: L8. Beat to D. Reach to G off Gullybridge, the down-wind to A via Y. Then a classic long second round beat to D and back to Y. Teal started well at the favoured shore end. Well clear of other boats. But became quite headed. Zephyrus who had started well to leeward suffering the same. Halcyone started slightly late at the favoured shore end – confusion about the start – but didn’t seem to run in to the same header and climbed slightly. And that skilful helming took in her to a persistently better lane of wind higher up the loch. She pulled up and ahead. And mostly never looked back. Behind now, Teal tacked to try and get up into the good wind and it worked to some extent. Zephyrus did the same further down. Those who did not – and stood on into the Clynder shore – did not have a good afternoon. More on them later.

Halcyone rounded the D mark. Teal not far behind but then headed as Halcyone escaped. Further misery followed after rounding as she found a hole. And then watched both Halcyone disappear and Zephyrus round and catch up on her own personal wind. Zephyrus however merely joined in to the going-nowhere-gang. Both then watched Hermes and Luna sail over them 50 meters to windward on their own wind. The ignominy exacerbated since the becalmed boats had raised spinnakers and the overtaking boats cruised past with white sails only. Teal eventually managed to work to windward and get some of the wind. Followed by Zephyrus. Both started to chase down and eventually pass Luna on the run to Y. Hermes still too far ahead, and Halcyone unthinkable! The only thing easing their pain was schadenfreude: Dione and Ceres – the boats that had stayed left in to the Clynder shore on the beat – were STILL stuck in a worse hole at the D mark. Both – perhaps understandably – retired after the first round. Perhaps concluding that, on such a beautiful sunny afternoon, they could be drinking cold beer in their gardens?

The long final beat to D. Halcyone majestically far ahead. Daughter of Aeolus – god of the wind – indeed. Hermes too made no mistakes. Teal had to keep an eye on and cover Zephyrus who had chased doggedly on the run. Until the wind shifted back to the SW and suddenly she also had to keep any eye on Luna who, having gone left, was roaring back in to contention. 

On the final run Halcyone was so far ahead she had time to mistakenly add in the G mark without it mattering a jot. Teal hoped her spinnaker might allow her to catch Hermes. She did for a while but in the end she found another partial hole and watched both Hermes pull ahead and Zephyrus catch up (again). The wind steadied; no places changed hands. Halcyone took a fantastic win in the sun followed by a good second from Hermes (with much smiling and marriage intact!).

1 Halcyone, 2 Hermes, 3 Teal, 4 Zephyrus, 5 Luna. DNF Dione, Ceres 

Tue 5th Jul

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.

Sun 3rd July

Report from the Secretary.

There was good wind and a large grey cloud at the north end of the Loch. As it was, there was just the merest smattering of rain.

On the water Race Officer Carol Rowe selected an excellent long course, zig-zagging across the loch.

No one started promptly, Zephyrus got away first and was given free rein as Dione and Catriona concentrated on each other. Zephyrus and Catriona swapped the lead several times. Off wind from E to F, the northernmost marks on the Clynder and Shandon shores, Zephyrus was confused by F being badly out of position. It is where G should be. That cost her the lead, the want of a spinnaker did not help.

Hermes and Thia had a close race. Their tactics different approaching the windward marks on the Clynder shore. Hermes tended to overstand so as to allow for big headers approaching the shore. Thia cut it finer and sometimes put in extra tacks. There was little to choose in the end.

The direction of wind was always variable close to the Clynder shore. As the race progressed, the variability spread across the loch. Gybes were needed on the last two downwind legs which felt like broad reaches to begin with. Dione had a glimmer of hope as she gybed early for the finish but Catriona responded and was lucky to find some pressure. Zephyrus dropped another place on account of not setting a spinnaker.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Zephyrus, 4 Thia, 5 Hermes.

Tue 21st June

Report from Circe.

A lovely Tuesday evening, wind blowing ENW, and for once what could (almost) be considered a (reasonably) constant (ish) wind for the Gareloch.

On the line there was a gradual dawning that the Invisible Man was the RO, so a quick decision was made to sail course L1, heading upwindish to mark G first. The Sonars left, followed by the Garelochs, and they were just close enough to be able to see the Sonars going round the upwind mark. Perhaps – was a trick of the light? The squashed up spacing of marks F and G? Or that the Sonars went round mark F instead of G (!) But it was enough to lure those at the front of the Gareloch fleet (well, Catriona anyway), up towards F. Halcyone (single handed) was speeding along and took the lead, followed by Teal, Circe, Dione, Ceres and Thia. Across the loch and on rounding C, a look back found Catriona skulking back downwind to correctly round mark G. Circe had a shocking spinnaker launch allowing Dione and Ceres past, and on the downwind leg, Teal (with spinnaker) cruised past the white-sailed Halcyone.

Down to A, back to Z and round again for the second lap. Circe made some good ground and moved back into 3rd position by the time G was reached again, but then lost a position back to Dione following another spinnaker mare! Meantime, Catriona had finished skulking and was climbing back up through the fleet, managing to overhaul both Thia and Ceres.

1 Teal, 2 Halcyone, 3 Dione, 4  Circe, 5 Catriona, 6 Thia, 7 Ceres

Sun 19th June

Report from Teal.

A beautiful warm summer day on shore belied a stiff breeze on the water. And much more northerly than the forecast, funnelling down the Gareloch. The result was a lumpy chop and, combined with a strong flood tide, a strong wind against tide effect. Choppy white waves could be seen in the middle of the loch – where the flood tide stream was strongest – which is unusual for the Gareloch. Garelochs can cope with these conditions but it was full on. Not conditions to relax in. Or perhaps fly spinnakers…

Joining in the fun were Helmut & Gisela Scharbaum, members of Freundeskreis Klassiche Yacht (German Classic Yacht Club/Association) and owners – and builders – of the beautiful Fife-designed gaff-rigged Clyde 19/14 class replica ‘Tringa’ who had been racing in the recent Fife Regatta. The Scharbaums, not Tringa. (More info on ‘Tringa’ here.). Gisela joined Catriona’s crew and Helmut on Teal.

Race officer Charles Darley on Catriona went for course H1: a short beat up the Shandon shore to F, reach across to C (Clynder), then a good long downwind leg to A at the moorings, back to start at Z, with a subsequent round (or rounds) back up to G, then C, then A again. The start however had to be aborted due to a collision between Thalia and Hermes who both retired. (We shall not say too much while they resolve matters – but it appeared based on the end result to be a simple port-starboard!)

Once re-started, Catriona did her best to lead Teal in, but with both of them trying to avoid the other luffing them over, and being slow in the chop, neither made a good start. Halycone, who later admitted she hadn’t even heard the starting signals, nonetheless took the cue and nailed the start to set up a good lead, followed by Dione and with Ceres going well. Halycone led from Dione at the end of the short beat. Catriona and Teal both overstood the mark (the F mark is where G should be!) but Catriona managed to work her way in to 3rd just behind Dione, with Ceres just behind and Teal in 5th.

No places changed in the reach across to C (the only almost relaxing part of the day). Catriona managed to swing wide and made a good rounding of the mark to get on Dione’s wind and, combined with boldly launching her spinnaker (when does Catriona not?), got past in to second. Others kept their spinnakers away given both wind strength and direction (broad reach at best) and didn’t really seem to lose out.

At A, Halcyone led, followed by Catriona, Dione, Ceres, Teal. Circe and Thia following. All the leading pack round and stood on following each other on port tack in to the shallow curved bay between Blairvadach and the moorings. Teal, forced to try and break out rather than simply follow, tacked out. Ceres tacked out too but fell in behind Teal and that was one down. As the leading pack approached the moorings it was clear that Teal has been in luck (better wind and/or tide?) and had closed the gap hugely. Dione chose to tack off below and just ahead of Teal. Catriona crossed Teal but in the choppy conditions even a good tack would have struggled to maintain cover. It was not a good tack judging by the noises from the skipper! At the line and with everyone needing water and to tack, Teal managed to tack ahead of Dione and both forced Catriona to have to tack off. Somehow Teal was in second. Halcyone still leading.

A very short beat up to G, then a reach across to C again and down to A again. As the fleet approached C, Thia now appeared from a very odd direction and the consensus was that she had neglected to round the G mark! She later retired.

Downwind to A, Teal flew a spinnaker to protect against Catriona in 3rd. She regretted it given the reachy nature – and a huge weather helm to prevent broaching – and dropped it early. Everyone except Halycone now knew that it paid to go out L on the beat. And they did. Halycone didn’t cover. Near the line Teal had now almost caught Halcyone. Halcyone repeated Catriona’s exact manoeuvre: she crossed Teal near the line and tacked, but in the choppy conditions tacks were slow and Teal’s momentum carried her through.

If the race had finished now Teal would have just won but had their eye on the clock and an hour had not yet passed, so a 3rd round was required! And again Teal had the advantage of being able to tack inside at the shore and force Halcyone to tack. Teal now controlling the approach to the layline up the short beat. She sailed Halycone past it and tacked ahead. Catriona and Dione chasing Halcyone too. And Ceres staying on the pace.

Once more in to the (b)reach: across to C, down to A, and a final short beat to the finish. The wind had eased now and spinnakers did help those that flew them. At the mark all the leading pack now knew that going out paid. Catriona tacked out. Halycone had learnt her lesson and covered her. Teal covered them both. Dione and Ceres both chasing. All finishing within a minute or so after a long long race.

1 Teal, 2 Halycone, 3 Catriona, 4 Dione, 5 Ceres, 6 Circe / RET Thia / DNS Hermes, Thalia

Tue 14th June

Report from Teal.

The forecast was not good: light air and dying away. But on the moorings there was some breeze. And what there was reasonably consistent with puffs coming through too. So six Garelochs headed to the starting area where Thia was ashore doing Race Officer (RO) duty. They wisely selected a short special ‘S’ course (a simple, and usually shorter, upwind-downwind, ‘sausage’ course) to B off Silvers. A biased start line unavoidable with the fixed starting marks. And not much room either with a very low tide right down at the 0m chart datum.

Catriona looked like she was early but read it perfectly and lead over in pole position followed by Teal. Ceres started ok just under Teal. Luna did not just above Teal and was squeezed out above the starting mark. Teal tacked off right towards Clynder to clear her air. Catriona tacked to cover and gained ahead in clear air. Ceres following. The others – Thalia, Hermes and Luna – kept going left towards the moorings. Teal tacked again to try and break Catriona’s cover – heading S towards the Rhu channel. Catriona tacked again to maintain cover. The wind now picked up.

It was now clear – at least to Teal, looking R to Catriona and L to the others – that the right side of the course was heavily favoured. Possibly the effect of a large dark brooding cloud above and behind the Rosneath peninsula** spilling out wind? Catriona to the right pulled ahead of Teal and Ceres. And all of them pulled well ahead of the others who had gone left towards the moorings. The wind had perhaps also veered from SW to W…? The forecast certainly mentioned it.

So it was a surprise when, after an uneventful downwind leg back to Z, rather than heading towards the good wind, Catriona tacked L quite quickly and headed towards the moorings! Teal did not but rounded and headed towards Clynder and the still brooding cloud. And clear wind on the water. The wind picked up and kept veering. And Teal didn’t have to go far before she tacked, in good wind, already on the (lifted) lay-line to B. And easily crossed poor Catriona by many boat-lengths. The veering wind meant the sails even had to be eased.

Teal rounded with Catriona following and not giving up easily. Both hoisted spinnakers but the continuing veering wind-shift meant that by the finish sails were being sheeted practically close-hauled. Teal held on, Catriona followed, with Ceres finishing a solid third.

Further back those who hadn’t – with hindsight – gone the right way were nonetheless having some good close racing. The final leg was tight and involved luffing. Only Hermes didn’t raise a kite. But given the wind shift it perhaps didn’t  matter. Thalia prospered near the end and took fourth.

1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Ceres, 4 Thalia, 5 Hermes, 6 Luna

(**Linguistic-geographical pedantic/educational aside – I am forced to use a tautology there since a Ros(s) is a peninsula/promontory (eg. the Ross of Mull that meets Iona)! It doesn’t help when settlements – Rosneath – take on the name of wider geographical areas/features, ie. the peninsula/promontory so there is ambiguity. Perhaps the Ross of Neath vs Rosneath?).