Gareloch Championship 21st & 22nd July

The premier social and sporting event of the year. If you have a Gareloch, that is. Racing on Saturday and Sunday morning. Lift off Drinks Party hosted by Reay and Jean Mackay on Friday evening. A barbecue by Barrie and Arlene Choules on Saturday evening, when those who had done well in the sailing could relive their triumphs.

The wind was kind to us, it was steady all day on Saturday and the sun shone. All ten boats which are afloat were there.

Race officer Jean Mackay, aboard Tim Henderson’s Blue Iris, was able to send us on a variety of courses with the gist being a leg to windward up the Shandon Shore.

Catriona got away well from a square starting line in the first. Guest crew Mark Greenhalgh had adjusted the leads of the jib sheets to good effect. Working in unison regular crew Lucy Forrester, they made it easy for the helm and she won by a margin. Hermes was delighted to come home second, ahead of Dione.

The second race was over the same course and Catriona had learned how to start. She did not have it all her own way, though. Dione found a good route up the beat. Tide was ebbing so that there was a balancing act between better wind but adverse tide out in the loch and a favourable back eddy but less pressure inshore. Anyway, Catriona tried to tack on top of Dione, who got bow forward and made hay. This was Catriona’s day, though, and she got it back on the next leg downwind.

There is a prize for the last placed boat which has competed in all the races. Notwithstanding it is a handsome silver rowlock, there is competition to avoid it. After two races, Athene was set to win the rowlock again. She became determined.

After lunch, the third race of the day took in a circle of the south end of the loch, beginning again with a windward leg up the Shandon shore. The results were much the same as before.

At the start of the third and final race, the wind strengthened which upset many plans. Those who decided on a port tack flyer at the outer end of the line were obliged reach along it so as to avoid being premature starters. Where they met the starboard tackers who had gone close into the shore so as to achieve the safer approach. Thalia, on right of way starboard tack had the fittings pulled from both ends of her boom and was unable to continue. She was given average points for the race. There were other incidents where penalty turns were taken. Catriona would have started well if her skipper had listened to his crew. Instead he dallied and hit the mark. Teal, just in front, was early and obliged to re-round.

After all that, Dione established a lead whilst Catriona fought back to second by the end of he round. Jean Mackay changed the next leg of the course, giving us a long windward leg to the northern most mark on the Clynder shore. Wind approaching the shore is often variable. Catriona risked going in whilst Dione found a lull further out and that was that.

It would have been too much to expect that wind on Sunday could be as good as it was on Saturday. It was lighter, it had backed to the south and there was variability. For the first of two races, Jean sent us down the Shandon shore, to the club and back. We finished at the club, in dying air, after three legs. Catriona thought she had started well and had covered her main opposition. Thalia, her boom fixed, started better, went the right way and was not to be caught.

Wind soon filled in for the third race, more from the west now, so that a good windward leg was from the club to the B mark, off Silvers. Thalia’s tail was up and she got away well, leading the fleet up the first beat on the right side. Zephyrus, trending left, was well placed too. Both crossed Catriona. Wind at B was tricky, as it often is near to the shore from which it is blowing. Catriona was in and out efficiently, with slick spinnaker handling from Lucy and Mark. Dione found herself rounding on a great circle route with boats inside. That set the pattern for the remaining rounds.

Athene, with Wendy Jones and Julian Forrester crewing, was able to get ahead of Ceres and Thia in these later races and so avoided having to polish the rowlock.

Each boat has competitors that they would like to beat. Carol Rowe’s Hermes, for example, had fun in tussles with Halcyone (when she usually inched ahead) and with Teal (when she usually didn’t). Her second place in the first race was associated with a good start. If she had kept that up, she would have been further up the leader board.

1 Catriona, 2 Dione, 3 Thalia, 4 Teal, 5 Hermes, 6 Zephyrus, 7 Halcyone, 8 Thia, 9 Athene, 10 Ceres.

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