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Optimist Open at East Lothian Yacht Club

by Alec Logan and Iain Calder 11 Jun 2009 23:08 BST 6-7 June 2009
Angus Johnstone sails under a threatening sky © Alan Henderson /

"1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die" has two entries next door to East Lothian Yacht Club, North Berwick. Namely the Bass Rock, a 350 metre high volcanic plug, home to 80000 gannets. And North Berwick Law, another volcanic hump irresistibly attractive to triathletes and 420 mums.

And there is a third, unsung, Natural Wonder – The Waves, The Waves! Smaller than Hawaii’s North Shore, but bigger than Weymouth’s, and bigger still after a few days of stiff NE’s, on to the beach non-stop from Norway. A perfect venue, therefore, for Scottish Oppie Trav 3, and battle commenced.

Main fleet

In Race 1 18, gusting 25 knots. Callum Airlie led the main fleet from start to finish, Ali Gray and Ross Stanley-Whyte were second and third respectively for the first round until Jamie Calder passed Ross on the second beat, and then Ali on the last downwind leg to go on to finish second with Ali third. Angus Johnstone and Alasdair Logan did well to finish.

Race 2 now well gusty, rogue waves two metres high. Very exciting sailing with the Oppie fleets showing many other classes how to dominate the conditions. Ross leads at the windward mark with Callum second and Ali third. Ross and Callum had a great tussle downwind, pushing their boats to the maximum to gain that edge over each other.

Callum eventually came through to take the race win and Ali managed to pass Ross upwind to take second. CCC sailors didn’t do so well – Alastair broke his boat, Rachel cold and wet, Sophie sick and wet. Racing abandoned, with skiffs on the beach, some wrecked!

Sunday saw a little less wind and smaller sea state but still enough to get some good surfing in the waves. Races 3 and 4 Nip and Tuck! In Race 5 GBR squad boys got off to a good start pushing each other all the way. Jamie however had to tack off to clear his wind and go right. This turned out to be the favoured side of the beat and he led the fleet at the windward mark.

Callum tried hard but couldn't catch Jamie during the two round race. Ali finished third and Ross fourth. Angus almost pipped Ross in one race, and Rachel recovered well to finish all three races.

Regatta Fleet

Most sailors hadn’t sailed on the sea before. You sail your new Oppie on a quiet pond...then it’s full on Rollers! All eight Regatta-istes, the youngest aged 8, launched on the Saturday, and beat out of the channel between North Berwick harbour and the off-lying reefs, straight into 15-20 kts of wind and huge breaking waves. They didn’t all make it to the start line, but all tried. Awesome!

That five boats completed both races similarly remarkable and vindication of extra coaching support for the Regatta Fleet this year supported by RYAS, IOCA Scotland and Haribo. Alasdair Ireland sailed flawlessly to win all four races and Nicolo Vetta and Hamish Taylor scrapped furiously all weekend for Nicolo to pip second overall on countback. Alastair Higgins and Iain Sword sailed well and bravely.

Special mention for Annandale’s Rebecca Bryant who was pasted on Saturday, sailed all the way out to the start on Sunday, only for her rudder to fall off. Next time, Rebecca, the dice will roll differently! Note results below – eight names from eight different clubs! A first for the Scottish Oppie circuit?

A superb event, again, and many thanks to ELYC. Roll on TRAV 4 at Loch Lomond, Another Routine Natural Wonder, JUN 20-21. Will be a very strong Regatta fleet entry, full coach support. Enter now at

Equipment notes – remember, figure-of-eight knot in the mainsheet, but not on the kicker; mast clamps up tight against the thwart or expensive GRP repairs beckon!

Medical notes – sailing in grey midsummer, so easy to forget sun protection. Don’t!

Sartorial elegance notes – gloves and hats de rigeur, please. We want warm extremities! Also Thanks to North Lanarkshire District Council for their neat new Pointer Pooh poly bags which serve perfectly as sailing boot liners. And biodegradable!

Full results and more information about Scottish Oppie Racing at

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