The Gareloch Mid Summer Passage Race
Many years ago (the Gareloch Class goes back a long way) there used to be adventurous races down the river. There are tales of emergency caulking with chewing gum at Hunters Quay. As the ladies got older, racing became confined to home waters. Maintenance has improved and the boats are in better condition. In 2014 Eric Boinard, the owner of Zephyrus, had been reading accounts of the old races written for the Glasgow Herald by the incomparable George Findlay and proposed we resurrected the passage race. We all seized on the idea and the first was to Rothesay. On Saturday, we took it easy and raced to the Royal Gourock Yacht Club for lunch.
Tim Henderson’s Blue Iris started us from Rhu Narrows on a downwind leg, first visiting the cardinal mark guarding the sugar boat. Catriona got away well by virtue of launching her spinnaker early. Athene and Halcyone close by. Off the Rosneath Caravan Park, Catriona had to decide who to cover. Many were going close inshore where wind can be fickle, Dione futher out in better air. There was a frustrating time of constant adjustments to sails and a gust which brought the fleet up but did not reach the leader. Past Perch Rock, wind was steady and Dione was in a strong second place with Dewy Babbington on the helm, her owner being away.
We all hardened up for the long windward leg down the river. The combination of variable wind, tide and waves over a large area of water can lead to big changes in fortune. Dione continued to the Gourock shore so Catriona covered. Teal thought to try the Kilcreggan shore. Kilcreggan was not a disaster, but it did not pay. Later, Teal trended towards the Gourock shore whilst most of the rest headed for the pier at Kilcreggan. Again, Teal’s lot was not cast with a white bean. The order changed as boats benefited from flatter water, then were slowed by waves. Were lifted by the wind, then headed.
Carol Rowe showed her skill to have Hermes in front of the rest at the last rounding mark, off the Kilcreggan shore. It was a reach to the finish at the Royal Gourock so that there was little opportunity for further changes of order. Jamie Grant’s Kelana, in the charge of John Simpson, was our finish boat. Wonderful.
1 Catriona, 2 Hermes, 3 Halcyone, 4 Teal, 5 Dione, 6 Athene, 7 Thalia, 8 Ceres.