Great sailing at West Highland Yachting Week

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A mix of all weathers made for a variety of exciting sailing for this year’s West Highland Yachting Week (WHYW). And storming through to take not only a class win but the overall Peter Cocks memorial trophy was a new ‘out the box’ Elan GT5 Reflection.

Revelling in a variety of conditions to take five first places over the course of the week, owner Jim Dick said: ‘Clearly, we are absolutely delighted with this performance – the first regatta the boat has competed in and I am really pleased for the boys who sailed her.’

Jim was unable to race his boat for the regatta due to injury so Reflection was crewed by Great Harbour Yachts and helmed by Peter Cameron, who runs the company.

Jim said: ‘She’s just a lovely boat and sailed brilliantly by the team aboard.

‘I bought her for extended performance cruising on the west coast and to see her performance at WHYW, she doesn’t disappoint in that department.

‘This is the third time competing at WHYW and the team and boat have performed superbly. I am thrilled with the boat, which not only sails superbly but is really comfortable below. And to win the overall at WHYW is the icing on the cake.’

Although the major prizes went south, there was no shortage of good performances from local boats. Joey Gough’s Tangle o’ the Isles from Oban Sailing Club took a good class win and Angus Fyfe and team on the Contessa 25 Popcorn from Lochaber and Glencoe Boat Club also secured another win in Class 8. Other local boats took seconds and thirds in class with wins on individual days. Despite challenging weather conditions, Johnnie Readman in his first year as principal race officer set competitive race courses and saw many class battles going down to the wire. He said he had enjoyed running the racing and would return to being race officer next year. Malcolm MacGregor, previous PRO, was in charge of the Argyll Fleet this year and told competitors at the prize-giving this was his last year on the race committee. However, he added everyone needed to look out, since he would be back for 2019, on the water in his own boat – and already has his crew booked.

Mixed conditions for feeder races

Prior to the Points Series of the regatta feeder races from Oban saw the fleet contending a south-easterly breeze after starting at the entrance to the Sound of Kerrera.

It was to be Alistair Pugh’s day on his Contessa 32 Marisca who won in just under a minute on corrected time from James Hardie’s Taz and fellow Oban boat, the Forteiths’ Shadowfax third.

Sailing his first WHYW with his Hunter 707, Autism on the Water, Murray MacDonald, formerly of Oban, had an excellent race finishing in fifth overall.

Meanwhile, the Gigha fleet enjoyed great downwind sailing with Ruaridh Campbell winning on his Oyster 26 Banshee with John Mactaggart from Campbeltown and Stargazer second and Jim Shield’s Sigma 33 Meka II third.

Light airs for Points Series off Craobh

Racing off Craobh, the fleet split into the Tunnock’s Fleet racing with spinnakers on a windward leeward round the cans course while with the white sail Argyll Fleet sailed a course round Shuna and into Loch Melfort. Despite the light conditions, two races were managed and Class 1 was dominated by Rod Stuart’s Corby 37 Aurora winning both.

Class 3 saw Graham Anderson’s team on Lucky Ned Pepper from Oban take a first and a third place and in Class 5 Eric and Irena Chapman’s Amber Haze won the first race, securing another good result for Oban Sailing Club.

In the Argyll Fleet, the Oban-based Ajax of Anne and Andrew Campbell won Class 4 and, in Class 6, Joey Gough’s Tangle o’ the Isles took the silverware.

The Hunter 707 Rammie mastered the light airs to take the win in the first race in Class 7 from fellow Hunter 707 Partial Pressure and the Laser 28 Farr Out. In the second race Partial Pressure pulled through to take the silverware from Cool Bandit 2 and Katerina.

Popcorn raced by the Fyfe family from Lochaber and Glencoe Boat Club dominated Class 8, despite Marian Austin’s Scintilla from Lochaber Yacht Club making a brilliant start in the first race and great gains on the first beat. They were pipped in the first race to Popcorn with the lovely Scottish Islands Class Gigha of Scott Raeburn in third. Popcorn won by 14 minutes on corrected time from Lady Ex and Hot Toddy in the second race. On the Argyll course Orwell Lass won restricted sail Class 9 from Layla and Cantata II.

Breeze and sunshine make a roller coaster sail to Oban

The Craobh to Oban passage race sponsored by Owen Sails saw the breeze up and boats reefed for a beat to the turning mark south of Luing. Thereafter the horizon became a blaze of colour as spinnakers were set in the Tunnock’s Fleet for the run to Oban in brilliant sunshine.

Angus Wright’s Aunt Jessie stormed through in Class 1 to take a strong first from the J92s Jammin of Ally Paton and Satisfaction of Nick Marshall. Jim Dick’s Elan GT5 Reflection won Class 3 from Graham Anderson’s Lucky Ned Pepper and Carmen II.

Scott Chalmers and family on Sunrise took a first in Class 4 from Grand Cru and Synergie. The beautiful Nicholson 43 Magdaleyne from Ireland edged out the Forteiths’ Shadowfax winning the day in Class 5 with Boyd Tunnock’s Lemarac taking a strong third. Class 6 in the Argyll white sail fleet was won by Peter Bloch’s Sun Odyssey 33i Skye from Ian Nicolson’s St Bridget and Oban Sailing Club’s Joey Gough in Tangle o’ the Isles.

Craig Corson and team on Salamander XXII were back in winning form striking a first from Piecemaker and Cool Bandit in Class 7 while in Class 8 Oban boat Hot Toddy took the win from Marisca and Popcorn. Kelana won Class 9 with Cantata II in second place and Judy Orr’s Eureka from Campbeltown third.

Firth of Lorn races

With another stiff southerly breeze on Tuesday, the Tunnock’s fleet raced a windward leeward course off Lismore made all the more interesting with two anchored tankers to navigate around. Increasingly uncomfortable conditions forced PRO Readman to cancel the second race for the spinnaker fleet so results stood for just the one race.

The Irish Sigma 400 Thalia of Michael Finn and team and the J109 Jammin sailed an excellent race finishing on exactly the same corrected time to take joint first in Class 1 while Reflection racked up another first in Class 3 from Alan Jeffreys and Paul Scutt’s Carmen II. Graham Anderson’s team on Lucky Ned Pepper continued their good form placing third.

Magdaleyne with three generations of Petticrews aboard, won from the famous and well sailed Sigma 33 Leaky Roof II of Harper and Robertson with Boyd Tunnock and team on Lemarac third.

In the Argyll Fleet racing to the south of the ferry line in the Firth of Lorn, Scott Chalmers and family showed once again their winning form in their Sigma 400 Sunrise. Ian Nicolson skippered St Bridget to a win in Class 6 – all the more poignant as the famous skipper was approaching nine decades young! Only two boats finished in Class 9 with Robin Will’s Malo Cantata II taking the win from Kelana.

Class 7 saw the Moody 336s kick into action with Salamander, Cool Bandit 2 and Piecemaker taking the first three places.

And in Class 8 on the round the cans it was Andrew Wallace’s Nicholson 35 Jane Waterman winning from Marian Austin’s Scintilla with Popcorn having to be content with third place.

Exciting run to Tobemory

Oban to Tobermory, probably the most popular race of the week, once again saw a mix of wind conditions. A strong breeze at the start saw most boats reefing for the beat to Lismore Light but this quickly lightened away as yachts entered the Sound of Mull on a close fetch. Those able to fly kites on the shy reach benefited most with patchy conditions to Lochaline before the breeze finally freshened. And freshen it did with a great run for all to the mark before the beat to the finish at Tobermory. Jammin raced away with Class 1 and Angus Wright’s Aunt Jessie beat Satisfaction into third place by only one second.

Reflection powered through to take a win in Class 3 by over six minutes on corrected time from Boxcar and Carmen II

Class 4 saw Firestarter win by 28 seconds from Spirit of May and Sunrise in third. Shadowfax, helmed by Steven Forteith with crew members from Owen Sails, powered away from the start to lead the fleet and take first place from Leaky Roof II and Sea-Pie of Cultra. Joey Gough’s Tangle o’ the Isles won Class 6.

In Class 7 Salamander XXII took the win by only three seconds on corrected time from fellow Moody 336 Craig Anderson’s Cool Bandit 2 and Brian Wiseman’s Sorr of Appin.

Hot Toddy pulled out all the stops in Class 8 winning from the beautifully restored Scottish Island Class Gigha of Scott Raeburn who just pipped the Fyffe’s Popcorn into third by seven seconds.

It was to be a win for Seonaid Reid and her team on Malindi of Lorne in Class 9 from Alistair Gay’s Orwell Lass and Kelana.

Sound of Mull racing

With light winds forecast, the race committees had their work set out for them with the Tunnock’s fleet waiting for the variable direction to settle. Setting Class 1, 3 and 5 off, PRO Readman opted to recall these classes when the wind direction changed. After re-setting marks, all classes had good sailing with wind filling in. Aurora, Blue Jay and Jammin worked their way to podium positions in Race 1 with Aurora winning race 2 and Jammin edging out Blue Jay for second.

Reflection continued a winning streak from Carmen II and Lucky Ned Pepper in Class 3 but was pushed out in the second race by excellent sailing by the Carmen II team from Polaris and Lucky Ned Pepper.

It was ideal Sigma 33 conditions and Jeremy Colman’s Sea-Pie of Cultra took first from Leaky Roof II and Shadowfax in the first race. Leaky Roof II took their revenge in race 2 with the win over Sea-Pie of Cultra with Magdaleyne in third place.

Sunrise also brought another first out of the bag from Grand Cru and Ajax in Class 4 while in Class 6 the mighty Glenafton was back to winning form from Valhalla of Ashton and Mystic Sun. Malindi of Lorne again won from Judy Orr’s Eureka and Alistair Gay’s Orwell Lass.

Andrew McKeown’s 707 Partial Pressure won Class 7’s first race with Respectable, the Mustang 30 of Tony Wright taking first over Partial Pressure and Sorr of Appin second time round.

Popcorn won both races in Class 8 with Gigha and Lady Ex, the Extrovert 22 of Ben Shelley and family finishing second and third respectively in Race 1. Scintilla of the Sea took second in Race 2 and Hot Toddy squeezed out Lady Ex for third in the second race by just four seconds

Tobermory to Oban

Forecast light winds for the final race from Tobermory to Oban sponsored by Thomas Tunnock Ltd did not bode well but from the spinnaker start in Tobermory Bay the fleet never lost the breeze, albeit at stages, patchy. Close fetching with kites was the way to go for the Tunnock’s Fleet with those in the Tunnock’s Fleet who managed to fly spinnakers till Fuinary making great gains. All apart from the Argyll Fleet spinnakers set kites for the run to the finish off Lismore. Aurora sealed the win in Class 1 finishing first over Satisfaction and Blue Jay. Jammin was second in the points series overall with Aunt Jessie third.

Reflection similarly pulled out another first to secure their class and subsequent overall title win.

Murray Findlay’s Boxcar was second on the final day’s racing in Class 3 and Carmen II third. On points Carmen II finished second overall with Lucky Ned Pepper third.

In Class 2 Golden Fox won from Sunrise and Anne and Andrew Campbell’s Ajax but this wasn’t enough to eclipse the Chalmers family of another class win on only eight points. Golden Fox finished second overall with Firestarter third in the class points series.

Magdaleyne took the trophy from Tobermory to Oban in Class 5 from Sea-Pie of Cultra and Leaky Roof II. On points overall however it was to be Leaky Roof II’s day winning the class from Sea-Pie of Cultra and Magdaleyne.

And the win in Class 6 for Tangle o’ the Isles was enough to secure overall class victory on only nine points. Valhalla of Ashton was second overall in class with St Bridget third.

Craig Corson’s team on Salamander XXII pulled a flyer to win the final race by over two minutes from the 707 Rammie of Mike Fleming with Cool Bandit 2 in third. This win secured class victory for Salamander. It was certainly to be victory roll for the Moody 336s with Cool Bandit 2 and Stuart Hamilton’s Piecemaker finishing second and third to Salamander overall.

It was also to be Popcorn’s day from Hot Toddy and Lady Ex and this reflected the points series in class with Popcorn first overall.

Malindi of Lorne also took a first from Eureka and Kelana on the final day but it was to be Kelana lifting the Class 9 silverware from Orwell Lass and Cantata II. This was a close called class with all three yachts finishing within one point of each other.

Special trophies

Aurora was presented with the MacBrayne Centenary Challenge Cup for the yacht making the fastest passage in the Craobh to Oban Race. Salamander lifted the Oban Bicentenary Trophy for the best corrected time in this race and also the Angus Meldrum Trophy for the best corrected time for the Oban to Tobermory race. Salamander also won the Iona Shop Trophy for the fastest corrected time over the three passage races.

Reflection took The British Waterways Trophy for the best corrected time for the Tobermory to Oban race. Hot Toddy won the John G Maxwell Trophy for the best points in Class 8 sailed by a member of Royal Highland Yacht Club. The West Highland Week Family Trophy for the best family yacht was awarded to White Lady – this was the family’s first regatta and first racing together as a family. The top prize of The Peter Cocks Trophy went to Reflection for the best overall performance throughout the series.

The final prize-giving barbecue and dance was hosted by Dunstaffnage Marina. The extensive social programme included a raft of entertainment, music and food at the Lord of the Isles at Craobh, the Oban Sailing Club barbecue and music and food at the Grand Kerrera Party at Oban Marina. The Wide Mouthed Frog put on a special WHYW menu during the week. Family swimming at Atlantis Leisure Centre was also on offer.

The midweek prize-giving took place in the Argyllshire Gathering Halls with dancing to the Stillwater rock’n’roll band and in Tobermory the Mad Ferrets played to a packed Mishnish each night.

A new initiative this year was to invite competitors to write a blog of their day’s racing. This proved successful with posts on the WHYW Facebook site accompanied by photos from Yachting Images.

Joint regatta committee chairman Beppo Buchanan-Smith said: ‘WHYW remains a unique combination of yacht racing in stunning scenery and family participation. It’s been a year for Clyde-based boats with Aurora taking the Class 1 trophy, Salamander the Class 5 win and the Iona Shop Trophy for the passage races as well as Reflection winning both class and the Peter Cocks Memorial Trophy.

‘However, local boats were to the fore as well with Tangle o’ the Isles and Popcorn winning their respective classes. But it’s not just about the racing. The sight of a white inflatable unicorn being towed round Tobermory Bay to much hilarity and snorkelling with otters in Craobh will be lasting memories, as will White Lady collecting the Family Trophy for their first regatta.’

Beppo added: ‘The generous support from Tunnock’s as the principal sponsor ensures the fleet can compete with full committee boat cover and safety support and we are delighted to be joined by Scottish Sea Farms, Tobermory Harbour, West Coast Motors, Argyll and Bute Council, Dunstaffnage Marina and Owen Sails. Without such support, we would struggle to put on such an event.’
Dates for the 2019 event are July 26 to August 2. Full results on www.whyw.co.uk and reports on Facebook.