Category Archives: Race Reports ’21

2021 Race Reports

Sun 8th May

Report from John Campbell on Circe

Sunday morning was ominously quiet on the loch, an echo maybe of the 2021 season but by lunchtime there was a nice breeze which had set in from west / south west, and the sun was out. The afternoon was set for some “champagne sailing” (as one skipper quipped with his peaked cap and sunglasses on!).

No RO, so Mr Choules took on the mobile RO duties and set course H6. Unfortunately Hermes (mainsail hoisting problems) and Halcyone (jib clew block shattered) were late to the line so had their own race independent of the main fleet.

On the start line it wasn’t too congested, however Teal was forced upwind of the Z mark so ended up tacking round and following on having dropped a number of places.

Up to B, and Zephyrus was going very well, she had the edge at the windward mark, ahead of Catriona and then it was a broad reach down to F. The considerate skipper of the naval destroyer managed to avoid the fleet meaning that no one was compromised as she sailed up to Faslane. Most of the boats had their spinnakers up, although Circe (sailing single handed) stayed with white sails only – surprisingly not losing that much distance. Round F, and Catriona had taken the lead from Zephyrus, followed by Dione and Teal.

There was a good beat over to C, back to Y, and then back to B for the second round by which time Dione had moved into second place. At the windward mark, Teal had Zephyrus on starboard, and snuck past into 3rd, Circe followed behind and Zephyrus dropped back into 5th place.

The reach down to C had some potential for errors as there were some quiet holes in close to the shore, however those positions held as the fleet crossed back to Y to finish the race. A really lovely afternoon to be out on the loch.

It was also good to see our Convenor Prof. John Blackie out crewing in Halcyone after the sad death of Jane, his wife, earlier that week.

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

Hermes DNF

Tue 3rd May – results & reports TBC

Sun 26th Sep – last race of the 2021 season

(Report from Halcyone.)

Last race, lots of wind, last chance for a decent sail in a remarkably windless season.

Six helms and crews showed up to race. Zephyrus didn’t race, she had just returned from Bute, the run back had taken three and half hours, at times surfing at 10 knots. 

Several crews dithered on the moorings before the race, wondering whether the pro-longed gusts over 20 knots would persist, or get worse as forecast. Hermes opted for a neat reef in her main. 

On the way to the start Kelana came alongside the fleet, with several Gareloch sailors on board, filming the occasion, just back from the RNCYC’s final cruising muster.

Teal took on Race officer duties, and set a course along the Shandon shore. In the boisterous conditions it was hard to hear the starting signals. Teal and Halcyone made good starts, Catriona closed on the start mark too early and had to duck behind Teal. Thalia, Hermes and Ceres weren’t far behind. Athene hadn’t heard the signals and opted to follow without racing. 

Closing on the windward mark Teal, Halcyone and Catriona were close, Teal slightly ahead, Halcyone crossed Catriona on port to round the mark in second. Neither Teal nor Halcyone opted for spinnakers initially. Catriona on the other hand, always motivated by being behind popped hers up, slewed to windward, just avoided broaching, got it settled, overtook Halcyone, so Teal popped hers up. The three had stood out well into the loch planning to gybe to the leeward mark later. Meantime, Thalia reached along closer inshore and looked like she would round the mark first, she didn’t, not quite. 

Rounding the windward mark for the second time Catriona chased Teal out into the loch. Halcyone and Thalia stayed inshore. The four began to converge again at the leeward mark, but still in the same order. Rounding the mark Teal and Catriona once again struck out into the loch. Halcyone and Thalia made shorter tacks inshore. Approaching the Z mark and the finish line, Halcyone was well ahead of Teal and Catriona, they had been busy defending and attacking each other and had forgotten to race the rest of the fleet. 

Might Halcyone win, could we finish after two laps, no, we had only been racing for 52 minutes, not the requisite minimum hour, we had to do another round.

Striking out for the windward mark again Halcyone’s excitement was short-lived, her guest crew spotted the starboard lower shroud dangling unattached, the mast wasn’t fully supported. Teal and Catriona caught up, Halcyone jury rigged a repair, kept in touch, but couldn’t catch them.

Teal crossed the finish line first, rounding off a run of first places. After a frustrating season she had her mojo back. 

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

Athene DNS.

Tue 21st Sep – revised/corrected!

The last Tuesday evening race of the year.  It is but five minutes since we were at Rhu Marina, excited to be launching and trying to remember where everything went.

Anyway, there was a little wind.  Not as much as forecast but certainly enough to race. The Sonars were there as well.  They were later arriving so that on the water Race Officer Daka Fadipe decided Garelochs should go first.  Which confused some.  The course, windward – leeward down and up the Shandon shore.  Being late at the start, as many were, seemed not to be important.  Finding some pressure of air was key.  Dione followed the shore and looked out of it but was first round the mark, beating those who went further out, attracted by ripples on the water.  We were reminded of Linda Pender, who has sailed on the Gareloch a few times, advising ‘Head for where the wind isn’t.  By the time you get there it will have arrived.  If you head for wind, it will have gone when you get there.’

Downwind Dione and Thalia in particular took to the shore.  Catriona, Halcyone and Teal went out.  The lead amongst those three kept changing.  Finding momentum and making the best of the transient puffs was key.

Thalia emerged from the shore to be first around the leeward mark, Catriona had an inside overlap on Teal and Halcyone.  Dione was just a bit later and found herself rounding behind the leading group.

Teal tacked out straight away, which was the thing to do.  When Catriona followed, it was too late.  Thalia tarried near the shore.

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

Sun 19th Sep

(Guest report from Teal.)

The forecast was for reasonable wind from SW to W. Any wind would be good given the season we have been having. At the moorings however encouraging gusts seemed to die away and we were left with light winds. Light but there. 

Teal volunteered to be on-the-water RO and resisted the urgings for a longer classic Gareloch course given the winds. Initially considering “an H course” caused understandable splutterings from Dione until your ROs engaged their brains and explained that they meant an S course *to* H not an H type course (High/strong wind). Eventually a wind shift to the SW prompted the ROs to settle on an S course to B. A simple Z-B sausage course. 

(The standard courses are described as Light and Heavy Air courses but, in this author’s opinion, S courses should be thought of as *light* air and used without feeling they are inferior, the current L courses *fair* wind, and the H courses for really good strong wind!)

The start was bunched at Z given the biased line. Catriona leading in as usual. Teal followed through slightly late but high and tacked towards Clynder to clear her air. Both anticipating that the ebbing tide would be taking us down the loch anyway and that the dark cloud to the west looked like wind must be forthcoming from it!  Catriona tacked to cover – the rest of the fleet following – but Teal pulled ahead as she got the good air first. The wind now filled in but extremely patchy with Teal lucky in the best of it. She tacked to head down to B – and avoid getting too close to the Clynder shore – but had to cross an area that was millpond calm. Catriona brilliantly worked her way up round the edge of the hole in wind and managed to get on top. Her skipper – Charles Darley – wrily noted that this was classic Gareloch sailing! The rest of the fleet were taking advantage too, led by Thalia – going well this season generally – who was charging up underneath Teal. Teal couldn’t make an overlap stick on Catriona and Catriona rounded first, followed by Teal and then Thalia.

The wind had now backed to a NNW-erly blowing almost straight down the loch. The “downwind” leg was now almost beating: the Z mark just couldn’t quite be laid. Teal was almost managing it though with Catriona sailing lower (slightly different wind?). Catriona tacked to cross but – despite having starboard and Teal footing to duck – for some reason tacked to lee-bow Teal. When Teal looked like she would manage to sail over her Catriona again footed lower and sailed in to Aldonaig bay (between Blairadach and club moorings). The wind headed both Catriona and Teal – and Catriona might have hoped to tack and cross Teal on a wonderful lift – but the wind reverted and Catriona tacked out in huge header that lifted Teal towards Blairvadach. Teal tacked and rounded Z many boat-lengths clear. Cruel luck.

The race was now sadly a case of reaching but at least in good wind. The strong shower that accompanied it was less good and made for tough conditions for those not dressed for it. Two boats – with guest crews – retired around this point!

Round B again and then back to Z. Catriona again pointing lower but not benefiting (perhaps attempting to sail lower and faster?). Depending on your love of sailing it was now either a good or bad thing that Teal was going to cross the line within the hour time limit and we were going to have to do a *third* lap! Catriona followed. 

Halcyone had now made good gains and was chasing Catriona who was having to defend her wind on the reach down to B. Dione close behind. On the final beat to Z Dione started in turn to threaten Halcyone’s wind and Halcyone luffed defensively and aggressively right up to windward. Unfortunately Halcyone overcooked it and tacked. Her penalty turns cost her the place and she then had to keep an eye on Ceres who was keeping in the mix. 

The wind again died away somewhat just as the race was finishing and while the race had had too much reaching we had been lucky with some actual wind!

1 Teal, 2 Catriona, 3 Dione, 4 Halcyone, 5 Ceres

Luna & Thalia DNF

Tue 14th Sep – no race

No wind. No race.

Sun 12th Sep

Seven Garelochs moved from their moorings to the start area in a light southerly breeze. At least there was some wind after the flat calms of past weeks. A course from Z to A and then to G  in a weakening flood tide looked like a safe bet, at least in the eyes of Race Officer Roger Kinns.

We entered the starting sequence with the wind beginning to veer to the west, so that only a starboard tack to A was needed. Never mind, we could anticipate a good spinnaker run to G. Thalia, Catriona and Dione got away first, but Ceres did well by going further inshore. Hermes and Halcyone were catching up. The wind almost died as boats approached the A mark, then quickly veered to the north and strengthened, so a run became a beat.

Athene was still approaching A on starboard as other boats rounded the mark. She had to take avoiding action to miss a rampant Hermes who did her turns, but then had to spend the rest of the race trying to recover some places. Tacking to G was the next challenge, seeking to take best account of wind and tide variations across the loch. Catriona and Dione, both being sailed single-handed, did best and showed consummate skill in raising and gybing spinnakers during the subsequent runs to Z and then to A.

There was time for a second round and more spinnaker handling in the sustained northerly breeze. It was almost the perfect course after all.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Halcyone, 4 Thalia, 5 Hermes, 6 Ceres, 7 Athene 

Tue 7th Sep – no race

No wind. No race.

And there really was literally no wind. Perfectly still. As Peter Proctor remarked walking back along the pier “I don’t remember a summer like it.” Indeed.

Sun 5th Sept

High pressure is all very well, but the lack of wind is bad for sailing.  We looked at flat water in the Gareloch with little enthusiasm but went out anyway.

A hint of a suggestion of a zephyr built up to give a beat to windward across the loch.  A worry in view of the ebb tide.  As we pondered, wind veered to give a beat up and down the Shandon shore, in less tide.

Thalia made the best start, reaching along the line from Catriona towards ripples out in the loch.  Catriona could not live in the disturbed air and tacked inshore, which paid.  Now Hermes and Thalia were fighting for second, which is always competitive.  Thalia reached the windward mark first and the two set off downwind close together.  They were overlapped on the approach to the leeward mark with Thalia inside.  Upwind back to the starting area Hermes risked a tack out which put her in more adverse tide but better wind.

Catriona, meanwhile, was coming to the end of a first round.  Fearing the air was becoming stiller she paused so that the time since the start passed an hour, the key for the finish to be at the end of the round.  No one complained.  Hermes took second from Thalia.

1 Catriona, 2 Hermes, 3 Thalia, 4 Ceres.  Luna and Thia DNF.

Sun 29th Aug

We were fortunate to get a race in the light air.  There was a little more pressure than forecast.

On the water race officer Peter Proctor set a course down and then up the Shandon shore.  A good choice, The winward legs were true beats and downwind it was necessary to gybe.

With a flooding tide, the back eddy near to the shore between the starting area and mark A, off the club, was attractive.  There was, however, little wind in there.  It was better further out in the stronger adverse tide.  Catriona went out and, after starting behind several others, she eventually got ahead of Dione who was further in.  After the windward mark, Dione had spinnaker trouble, which put her amongst Hermes, Thalia and Halcyone and let Catriona away.    On the approach to the downwind mark, Dione was obliged to give mark room to Hermes, which set Hermes up for the beat back to the line.

There was time for a second round.  Approaching the finish Catriona had stood out into the loch leaving Hermes further inshore.  Wind veered so that Hermes was able to lay the finish and was travelling faster than Catriona.  Excitement on Hermes was misplaced.

1 Catriona, 2 Hermes, 3 Halcyone, 4 Dione, 5 Thalia, 6 Athene.  Thia DNF.