What a great place for a sailing event…a pretty harbour, pontoons festooned with racing boats, pubs, restaurants, great craic, challenging courses nearby and fantastic weather.
Add to this that many folk you haven’t seen since last year, or for 25 years, suddenly appear at the bar next to you, or on the boat next to you.
The 707 fleet, of course, once again led the way in the on-water entertainment, and strangely enough, the off-water pleasurable antics during the Scottish Series in Tarbert, Loch Fyne. An eleven boat fleet of 707s was always going to produce some competitive racing as the skill level amongst these crews is rising steadily, and we were not disappointed.
To make things a bit hotter, Olympic sailor Luke Patience headed up renamed boat CRHU complete with his Dad, and this boat was always going to become a challenger – I am sure this more mature ex-Albacore sailor actually called the shots.
The weather in day one was truly magnificent with outrageous heat, glittering sea and variable wind which sorted out those who can sail in light airs and those who cannot. Some of the more regular contenders were relegated to the back of the fleet after poor starts or overly bold, and risky, course decisions, and there was no way back.
Races one and two were won by Seaword beating off CHRU in both, but new boat Tallulah from Royal Findhorn YC, helmed by Phil Hermiston, won in race three following a cracking start and good reading of the beat in increasing wind.
Where were the rest of the fleet? In reality not far behind, but the normal front contenders were struggling to get in the groove in the light winds. However, there was more than enough of challenge trying to gain a mid-fleet place as the competition was sharp..
Day two was one of those rare days in which competitors were glad that Race Officer decided that no races were to be run – it was absolutely breathless.
Day three arrived and many wished it hadn’t after the early afternoon opening of the bar following no sailing on day two. With foggy heads we were greeted by a decent breeze and long courses. Carl Allen and team in More-T-Vicar sailed impressively narrowly being beaten by Seaword in two of the races. They opened up an impressive gap on the fleet as they pushed each other hard, and CHRU followed up with thirds. Luke Patience won the intervening race with Neil McClure in Blue Funk finally making his usual top of fleet appearance with a second – it was proving hard to get up there and score well, but none of the fleet were far behind so the consistency of Seaword and CHRU’s performances were therefore quite impressive.
If there was a prize for first round the windward mark then Valhalla would be getting it, as they were superb at starts and upwind boat speed. With a little more practice in mark rounding, and avoiding other boats, I am sure they will find a way of maintaining this position, but it is just great to see them developing from being well back in the fleet to real contenders in every race – proof to us all that it can be done.
The final day was initially windy and we expected some fleet changes, and we got it. Out of the blocks, and going really fast, came the new team from Glasgow University on Big Boys Toys. This light weight team (in sailing, but definitely not in the bar) surprised us all in this wind strength and scored a second and third but not without giving Seaword a really hard time.
The loaning of the 707 Association-owned boat to this team has proven to be really positive way to get people to try such events who otherwise might not be able to do so, due to financial or logistical reasons, or simply to try sailing a 707 in a competitive situation. The Glasgow Uni team are now so enthused having been given this opportunity to race at the highest level that they are getting set up to campaign this boat at the Nationals. Ask your local 707 Rep. or via our 707 Facebook page if you require more information on the use of this new boat.
It was also great to see newcomers on the Helensburgh-based boat Chaos and we hope they’ll become regulars at the events as they obviously have promise, and we have a desire to set up a Clyde based fleet.
Irish boat ‘Wishful Thinking’ was welcomed on its annual pilgrimage to meet the rest of the 707s, and it was great to see Kieran and crew mixing it up with the Scottish boats – they are improving every time they visit.
Intense is the description of the racing. As intense as the coffee I needed every morning.
Congratulations to Dara O’Malley’s team and helm Andy Marshall, who ended up being clear winners of the 707 fleet in 2017 by an impressive results of six firsts and two third places out of the eight races.
First Seaword – Dara O’Malley/Andy Marshall
Second CHRU – Neill Ross/Luke Patience
Third More-T-Vicar – Carl Allen and team