Category Archives: Race Reports ’13

Sunday 7th July

There was little wind. On the water Race Officer, Peter Proctor, was about to make the best of it with a short beat across the loch. A large RIB with blue flashing lights and two even larger MOD Police aboard asked who was in charge. Commander Proctor we said. They were not impressed and told us the loch was closed for a submarine to leave. We sailed a course up and down the Shandon shore. Tacking was required only at one of the marks. It was a much better race than you would imagine.
The start was during a lull. Those in the right place at the right time, pointing the right way with a little momentum, were at an advantage. Zephyrus, Thalia and Hermes looked good. Iris was close in to the shore and moving fast (a relative term) to begin with. She slowed in light air and fell into the shadow of the fleet.
Zephyrus and Thalia had the lead with Catriona chasing hard. Catriona made the best of the spinnaker, which was useful in one direction, and insinuated herself into the lead. Zephyrus was close behind until she dropped her spinnaker into the water. The immediate braking effect, then the spinnaker being heavy with water, did for her. Thalia overtook Hermes by carefully setting her third sail.

1 Catriona, 2 Zephyrus, 3 Thalia, 4 Hermes, 5 Iris, 6 Ceres, 7 Athene

Saturday 6th July – RNCYC Regatta

A magnificent day for sailing. Three races on the east patch. Wind and tide there are different to the Gareloch. There are large variations in wind strength, but not so randomly distributed.
In the first race, Catriona got the best start and got away well towards the Greenock shore where wind strengthened. That helped her to a substantial lead and she was never at risk. Zephyrus got the better of Zoe by sailing where pressure was greater.
In the second, Catriona tried to repeat the tactic of her first race but was over the start line early. In returning, she let Zoe away. This time, it was Zoe who got to the better wind first and established a good lead. Catriona caught a little downwind but it still looked hopeless for her. Beating back to the finish she tacked for the line earlier than Zoe and for a short time looked good. She was obliged to give mark room at the committee boat to Zoe who took the win by a couple of seconds.
In the third, Zoe was able to luff Catriona over the start line so that she was able to get away again. Catriona, following, fell into the disturbed air of a couple of Etchells and felt the need to tack away. She was comfortably third on the approach to the windward mark. Setting the spinnaker when others didn’t was not enough.

1 Zoe, 2 Catriona, 3 Zephyrus. The other Garelochs missed good racing.

Thursday 4th July – Cadets Race

This was the second attempt at a cadets Race. Two weeks earlier there had been no wind. This night we certainly didn’t want any more wind. There were four boats competing.
Race Officer Charles Darley sent the fleet on a beat across the loch to D, north of Clynder. There was a formidable team in Iris, Callum Gregor who is an Optimist Champion with Simon Jackson crewing. They took the lead almost at once. Zoe Robinson (who had helmed to win the Yvonne Armstrong Trophy on the previous Sunday) pushed them hard in Thalia. Teal (Andrew Choules) and Hermes (Callum Fowlis) fought over third. Teal seemed to have it but fell into a hole on the Clynder shore. She got the place back though.
Offwind across the loch to Shandon, Thalia caught up to Iris and had an inside overlap for the mark, still some way ahead. Experience on Iris showed. They were able to blanket Thalia and thereafter keep ahead. The final leg to the finish was a reach, with little opportunity for passing.

1 Callum Gregor (Iris), 2 Zoe Robinson (Thalia), 3 Andrew Choules (Teal), 4 Callum Fowlis (Hermes).

It should be noted that the trophy for first is a perfectly attractive silver cup. For second is the magnificent bronze Simpson Elephant

Tuesday 2nd July

Report from Carol Rowe

The Convenor set a course crisscrossing the loch in a moderate breeze from the south west.
In the flood tide those who tacked into the loch notably Catriona in the hands of crew in the absence of her usual helm and Thia prospered initially in the stronger wind over those who sought to avoid the tide.
At the mark at Silvers Hermes having sought shelter on the Clynder side from the tide then having to tack onto port did so on the windward side of Zephyrus approaching on starboard and as a result had to give way allowing Zephyrus to round the mark first.
Thereafter Zephyrus chose to follow the Clynder shore on the run up to Shandon and became involved there with Thia. A steady breeze took the fleet to the G mark where Hermes rounded just ahead of Zoe who prospered when the former’s helm became distracted by the loss of her hat. Nevertheless both approached the C mark where Hermes failed to capitalise on an opportunity to recover the lead.
In a dying wind the race officer rightly chose to end the race after one round. Paddles were needed to get back to the moorings.

1 Zoe 2 Hermes 3 Thalia 4 Zephyrus 5 Ceres 6 Athene 7 Thia 8 Catriona

Tuesday 25th June

No wind, no race.

Saturday 22nd June – Clyde Classic

The first race of the Clyde Classic regatta was designated as the points series race for Garelochs. A wonderful event featuring some magnificent classic yachts. Many designed by Fife. There was Camilla who lives at Shandon. Built in 1894 and still original. Kentra, 99 feet of Fife gaff ketch in superb order. Saskia, an 8 Metre from 1931, her stem sharper than anything you have seen. Tringa is a recreation of Clyde 19/24 from the 19th century. Even with a magnifying glass, you would find no flaw.
Race officer Hugh Normand divided the boats into three groups, according to size, and started us in Rhu bay at five minute intervals. The Garelochs in the slowest group along with the slightly faster Scottish Islanders and the 19th century gaff ketches. Some of the large boats of group 1, unused to racing, thought to start with the smallest in group 3. That concentrated the minds of Gareloch helms. Iris and Thalia got away well and immediately climbed to avoid being blanketed. Catriona and Zephyrus suffered. Catriona’s wind was taken by the 14 ton Gauntlet Class Isla Rose. Designed by HG May and built at the Berthon yard at Lymington. A man asked May to design him a yacht. When the design was finished, he no longer wanted it having commissioned another design elsewhere. Irritated, May built the boat anyway and challenged the man with his alternative design to a race. May won, hence the name of what became a successful class. Catriona’s skipper used the blanketing to bargain for a shot on the helm of Isla Rose on the Sunday (when there was too much wind for Garelochs).
Anyway, the course took us on a beat down the river towards Cove. Catriona and then Zephyrus were able to pass Thalia but Iris had first place firmly under control. Downwind, Catriona caught a little by setting her spinnaker early. She passed the leading Scottish Islander who was very slow to set the third sail. Iris, however, still out of reach. A wind shift meant the final leg to the finish, after hardening up at the Green Isle buoy, was about as fine as spinnakers like it. Rhu bay then took on some of the characteristics of the Gareloch. Wind became light and variable. The last of the good air brought Catriona up to Iris. The two fought to keep spinnakers full and crossed the finish line almoat overlapped. Catriona with her nose ahead. The two Garelochs were first and second on the water and on handicap in Group 3. Tringa the first of the gaff rigs.

1 Catriona, 2 Iris, 3 Zephyrus, 4 Thalia.

Saskia got away from the 6 Metre, Valdai, on the downwind leg to take Group 1. Sule Skerry, the 1958 McGruer yawl who lives locally won group 2.

Tuesday 18th June

Catriona was back afloat after the repair to her rudder. Ian Nicolson, Alan Pretty and Helmut and Gisela Scharbaum all helped.
As usual, the starting line was biased. It cannot be helped with fixed lines. The shore end was favoured this time. Many were caught out as the wind died away during the starting sequence. Much of the fleet was early approaching the shore end and was obliged to reach back to the pin end, so losing the advantage of being near the shore. Iris, of course, got it right. As is her wont. Athene (Miriam Sutter on the helm) Thalia and Teal were not too shabby. Catriona made the worst start. Zephyrus and Hermes had a windward/leeward altercation on the line.
The lightening of the wind brought with it the variability which characterises the Gareloch. There were wind shifts big enough to make a difference but small enough for the inattentive to miss. There were areas of light pressure, hidden because the water was still rippled. The biggest loser was Iris. On the beat across to the Clynder shore she was strong for the first ten minutes but found herself moving too slowly for too long. Athene made the most of her good start and led most of the way to the windward mark. Zephyrus went a little too close to the Clynder shore, where wind was more variable. Catriona mostly found herself in good air and picked them off one by one. She was first to launch a spinnaker on the downwind leg. Meanwhile, Zephyrus caught up to Athene but left a lot of space when she rounded the mark and gave back the advantage.
There was a spinnaker gybe from a reach to a reach at the second mark. Most crews achieved it with aplomb.
The Race Officer finished us after one round. A short race, but the evening wind showed every sign of dying away.
It is remarkable that the Sutter family was represented on the first four boats home. The boys beat the girls, of course.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Iris, 4 Athene, 5 Thalia, 6 Zephyrus, 7 Ceres, 8 Thia, 9 Hermes.

Sunday 16th June

Four boats had indicated an interest in taking part in the Cove Regatta first race on Saturday 15 June. However, since the weather forecast was poor and Catriona’s rudder stock had sheared a few days beforehand, a decision was taken not to go. In lieu of Cove, the Secretary posted notice of an alternative race as the first of the Nyassa Plate Series to take place conventionally on Sunday 16 June in the Gareloch.
Teal, Athene, Thalia and Hermes turned out on a beautiful afternoon which was at first windless. Hermes and Thalia drifted up to the Blairvadach start but Teal and Athene decided eventually not to wait for wind and de-rigged which was unfortunate for them as it turned out.
Hermes, helmed by Carol Rowe and crewed by family members Donald and Laura,and Thalia, helmed by boat builder Jonny Burke with Peter Proctor and French national Christine Cabanne crewing were eventually rewarded at 15.30 with a gentle south-easterly breeze that remained steady for the next hour or two.
Peter Proctor assumed the role of Race Officer and set course S3, a sausage from mark Z to A and back to Z. Jonny made a good start in Thalia squeezing out Hermes at the start line pin. Some tacking was required to get to A and spinnakers were set for the return leg. The steady breeze allowed three rounds – plenty of spinnaker work for the crews – during which time Hermes gradually closed the gap on Thalia. Thalia held on to her lead until the start of round three when Hermes made a better rounding of the Z mark and thereafter never looked back (figuratively speaking).

1. Hermes 2. Thalia

Tuesday 11th June

Catriona unfortunately suffered a broken rudder stock before the start (about 20 years after the last one) so the Class Secretary wasn’t there to witness the action and write this report. The report therefore fell to the winner as her ‘reward’.

And so, the SE wind was good if a little gusty but didn’t allow for much of a beat to start so the Race Officer sent us on course H3 – a down-wind start and a cracking long course zig-zagging down the loch and with a premium on spinnaker handling. Teal started first at the pin end closely followed by Thalia slightly further down the line. Thalia quickly shadowed Teal’s wind and accelerated through before Teal could get her spinnaker pulling strongly. Teal attacked to constantly luff Thalia while wary of a closely following Ceres also trying to get on her wind. Hermes, even higher up, threatening to shadow – all on starboard but only just laying the mark without gybing. In the end Teal managed to luff Thalia beyond the gybe lay line and gybed – Thalia seemed to continue for an unwise length of time on starboard. Teal couldn’t however also maintain an overlap on Ceres so Ceres rounded D first.
Teal rounded more tightly and climbed up on Ceres to take first on the beat across and back up to G. Thalia also managed to point higher and pass. A starboard approach allowed the attentive to have their spinnaker ready for a very quick bear-away and hoist for the second long run down the loch to E. Teal leading Thalia leading Ceres leading Hermes, with Thia suffering from a compliment to their spinnaker handling in a previous race. Round the mark for the long beat back up the loch to Y.
The final beat was a lesson in both picking the right course and balancing the tactics of covering. Thalia seemed to luff too high after rounding and stalled. Teal was away and loosely covered the chasers while trying to stay in the best wind to ensure first. Thalia was just ahead of Ceres while Hermes headed across the loch to the Shandon shore before a long tack up the loch. The story was now all about the race for second between Thalia, Hermes and Ceres – exciting enough that Teal, half way back to the moorings, gybed and headed back towards the start to watch! Thalia lead most of the way but forgot to cover near the finish – how many times do we need that hindsight? – and let Hermes and Ceres take advantage of a late lift closer to the shore. A late charging Ceres managed to luff up enough to force Hermes to tack off and Hermes – perhaps wrongly – thought the tack would anyway take them across the line. Ceres instantly responded to tack and cover and a late luff head-to-wind took them across the line just ahead of Hermes. Thalia followed over shortly followed by the jinxed Thia.

Teal 1, Ceres 2, Hermes 3, Thalia 4, Thia 5

Sunday 9th June

Shirtsleeve sailing with sufficient wind to keep us interested. Seven boats raced, it should have been more.
On the water race officer Iain MacGillivray set a course beginning with a beat to A, off the club. Not a true beat, but the best that could be done in light of the direction of wind.
Teal had pole position at the favoured shore end of the starting line. Catriona just behind. Athene came in from the pin end, hardened up as soon as she could and pressed her starboard tack advantage.
The way the wind was, Teal and Thalia approached A from close to the shore and prospered. Catriona led a group which ended up further out. The wind did not favour them. Teal led round A (for a downwind leg to Clynder) from Thalia with Catriona well back. Thalia declined to set a spinnaker on this leg. A poled out jib is no substitute. She was passed by Catriona and reeled in by a hard charging Athene.
A fetch back to the starting area was uneventful. Catriona learned from the first round, Teal did not. When the two crossed, they were close together. Teal rounded A just ahead. The two diverged downwind. On the approach to the gybe mark, Catriona had the inside overlap. Teal tried to turn more sharply, but there was no room for her and she touched the mark. The penalty turn let Catriona away. Meanwhile, Thalia had learned to set her third sail and was in third place from Hermes and Athene.
There was a contretemps between Thalia (just ahead) and Hermes at the third rounding of A. No rules broken (it was decided later) and no contact. Hermes insinuated her was past on the downwind leg.

1 Catriona, 2 Teal, 3 Hermes, 4 Thalia, 5 Athene, 6 Ceres, 7 Thia.