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Sailability Scotland Challenger T6 Travellers at Lochaber Yacht Club, Fort William

by Duncan Greenhalgh 19 Sep 2018 09:10 BST 15-16 September 2018
Sailability Scotland Challenger T6 Travellers at Fort William © Dik Toulson

The final event of Sailability Scotland's Challenger Travellers took place in the very picturesque town of Fort William last weekend 15/16 September.

We have to say a big thank you to Tunnock's for sponsoring the Scottish Challenger Travellers Series, also the host Clubs, all volunteer helpers and Sailability Scotland SCIO Charity for facilitating the events that was supported and enjoyed by the largest numbers in many years.

An enthusiastic group of 9 boats arrived on Friday and Saturday morning to a welcoming reception by club volunteers helping build and rig the boats in good time for the launch time of the first race. With a good sailing forecast predicting fresh winds and occasional showers the competitors were keen to get going.

The wind built up to a respectable F3 for the start of Race 1 round a large triangle course which was to remain the very efficient Race Officers preferred course for all the races. The fleet became strung out with Jessica and Duncan pulling away from the rest of the fleet perhaps mastering the difficult conditions of chop and tide stopping any forward movement if allowed. Jessica got the first gun followed closely by Duncan. Keith finished a creditable 3rd but unfortunately was unable to complete any further sailing. John and Ronnie led the remaining fleet home.

After a short break ashore the fleet ventured out for Race 2 to find a squall was overhead generating sizeable waves from the cold F5/6 wind, no one in a boat noticed the showers however getting buckets of salt water regularly deposited in their faces. The race took the same order as R1 round the first lap with StephenTB, John and StephenL keeping better pace with the leaders. Alex retired when the emergency home-made rudder failed to stay on the pintles, perhaps won't forget the rudder next time. Approaching the club Duncan had boat failure later found the mast collar missing, he also retired to make repairs. Jessica got her second bullet followed in by StephenTB, John and StephenL the only 4 finishers of a particularly tough race.

Race 3 was started back to back with a smaller field in the lighter conditions as the squall moved round the Ben, leaving a nice F3/4 ideal racing conditions. Jessica led the fleet round the course in a lonely vigil with Alex, StephenTB, John, StephenL and Ronnie in hot pursuit. Duncan's boat was fixed and relaunched with the challenge of catching the fleet rounding the windward mark. At the end of the three lap race Jessica got her 3rd bullet and almost guaranteed the event, Duncan managing to overall most of the fleet pipping Alex on the line to take second and Alex third with a borrowed rudder.

Exhausted sailors wrapped up their boats and made plans for the evening socials with plenty stories to recount, not knowing Sunday was to dawn blowing a steady F5 with squalls of F6/7 left many sailors declaring they were staying onshore. Six boats lined up to launch in a lull watching the next squall rapidly approaching from the south west up Loch Linne to arrive in nice time for the start of the next race. John thought better of the conditions after a couple of tacks and a reach across the Loch decided to return to shore for an early bath and pick up a prize for his courage taking on the storm.

Race 4 started for a 1 lap race in 'washing machine' conditions, with all the 5 remaining boats battling the conditions. Jessica and Duncan took an early lead and was nick and tuck all the way round with Jessica leading at the final mark it looked fait accompli, however inshore was vastly favoured on the final short beat and Duncan took the race with Jessica a close second. StephenTB, Alex and Ronnie bravely continued to finish in that order.

Race 5 and final race got underway with the wind at its tops for a 1 lap race however the RO changed his mind and must have thought more punishment was required changing it to a 2 lap race. Jessica sailed for home with enough results in the bag to take the regatta. The remaining 4 boats battled round the course in horrendous conditions with Duncan slightly ahead of Alex crossing the line after the first lap both expecting a finish to realise anther lap was being demanded. A close race ensued to the windward mark with Duncan slightly ahead of Alex, the gap opened considerably as Duncan seemed to constantly surf from one wave to the next all the way to the gybe mark. The next reaching leg was completely different as the wave angle to the layline was completely different, they came either over or spinning the boats leaving helms struggling to control the boats direction down to the final mark and a short beat up to a welcome finish line. Duncan took a comfortable bullet followed by Alex, StephenTB and Ronnie, all 4 starters finishing the final race of the weekend and gladly making way to the recovery team to get relief from the rough conditions.

Overall Results:

1st Jessica Campbell, 5pts
2nd Duncan Greenhalgh, 6pts
3rd Stephen Thomas Bate, 13pts

Full results can be found here.

Events do not happen without a huge contribution from a team of volunteers who assist with launching and recovering boat, race management, safety, mark laying and catering etc etc. During the prize giving, the fleet showed their appreciation to all those that helped from Lochaber Yacht Club to make the weekend a great success.

Sailability Scotland SCIO is a registered Scottish charity that promotes and develops disabled sailing throughout Scotland. For further information visit www.sailabilityscotland.org.uk or contact us at

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