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East Lothian Yacht Club Regatta 2019

by Nick Roche 4 Jun 06:04 BST 1-2 June 2019
East Lothian Yacht Club Regatta 2019 © Derek Braid /

East Lothian Yacht Club annual regatta took place on 1st and 2nd June 2019, supported by Dalgety Bay Sailing Club, Largo Bay Sailing Club, Rooster Sailing and sponsored by North Berwick Gin.

Fifty-three volunteers and generous powerboat owners put on a fantastic regatta. Over 110 dinghies made the journey to North Berwick with competition across 11 classes on two courses. A stunning location with Craigleith and Bass Rock as a backdrop.

Saturday was a PRO's nightmare as Robbie Lawson and Ben Wilcox boxed the compass in search of consistent wind. The weather gods teased, tickled and tempted the race crew into laying the course only for the wind to clock through another 40degrees. After 3 hours chasing zephyrs and 6 course re-alignments, a start was finally completed and the fleets made the windward mark within time limits, only for the wind gods to sigh and hold their breath.

The day is best summed up by local Streaker sailor Jim Sinclair:

"We came, we saw, we bobbed.

After a few happy hours of useless breeze, one 'race' was squeezed in. It was the first moment that a course could be laid and Guy Wheeler was so keen to get going he was rather OCS. Guy and the rest of the Streakers drifted round, first with the tide and then against it. Very unusual conditions for this venue. Martin Plenty drifted faster than the rest with Jim Sinclair and Katie Masterton following along serenely behind.

Tomorrow will be better..."

The frustration of the day was quickly forgotten as Andreas and Karen served up a Greek Mezze buffet with Pete and Ruth working the pumps in the bar. The yacht club was buzzing. RS400s, unusually, hardly troubled the bar.

Sunday was better.

A south westerly established and after a wee wobble settled in for the day. The fleet launched and were treated to classic North Berwick fare, a force 3 aperitif, force 4 starter, and force 5 main course. The skiffs stayed out for second helpings.

Jim again, from the mighty Streaker fleet...

"Feast or famine for the Streakers at North Berwick. After Saturday's driftathon the breeze really arrived on Sunday. Race 2 of the series saw Jim Sinclair lead from start to finish in a building southerly with Martin Plenty and Paul Noble in close attendance. Race 3 saw Sinclair and Plenty swap roles with Martin maintaining a narrow lead throughout to set up a final race decider. Noble held on to third again. Conditions were becoming rather sporty now with 25 knots recorded on the committee boat and it was a depleted fleet (in all classes) that set off in race 4. Sinclair won the committee boat end of the line but Plenty was able to cross ahead on the first beat and that was pretty much that. Katie Masterton held onto the leading pair to ensure third overall."

Across on the skiff course John Wilson and Laura Glover were sailing fast:

"The RS200 fleet held their Scottish Championship. The racing was close and great battles were had amongst the whole fleet, with three different race winners. Local knowledge and experience contributed to most of those.

Saturday dawned bright and with a good wind forecast, spirits were high and the 9 boats in the fleet got out on the water on time and ready to go. Sadly, the wind didn't live up to expectations. The first race was abandoned and racing was postponed until the wind filled in. Members of the fleet put this time to good use, with much sandwich eating, singing and wildlife watching (and in the case of John Wilson, a prolonged nap!). Race officer Ben Wilcox persevered through challenging conditions to get a race started later in the day, which was won by Fiona Rigg and Liz Copland. They successful chased the patches of wind across the course to win the race by such a margin that they were back in the bar whilst the rest of the fleet played Snakes & Ladders with the wind in their wake.

Sunday brought with it testing conditions for every boat on the water, with a gentle 4 knots of wind lulling the fleet into a false sense of security before being hit by winds of 20+ knots later in the day. The racing was close and great battles were had amongst the whole fleet. Fiona and Liz maintained their strong start with another first, with fellow East Lothian's John Wilson and Laura Glover pipping them to the post in race 2. Race 3 brought with it white horses, waves and some hairy gybes. Whilst the majority of the fleet were switching sports from sailing to swimming, Andy McKeown & Pippa Benson were showing us all how heavy wind sailing should be done scooping up the win in race 3 by a country mile. However, this wasn't enough to beat the greater consistency of Brendan Lynch and defending champion Clara Zalabardo to third place overall.

At the start of the final race the winners of the Championship were still undecided, with both Fi and Liz and John and Laura counting only first's and 2nds. Racing was tight, with no room for error. Both boats changing positions multiple times until John & Laura made some favourable use of the gusts and some lucky shifts to cross the line in first and pip Fiona and Liz to 1st overall in a tiebreaker and take the bottle of North Berwick Gin. The event finished with the fleet making plans for Largo Bay's regatta in three weeks time.

Conditions were tricky but ELYC put on a fantastic event, with great racing, organisation on and off the water, excellent food & hospitality (including post-racing ice cream!). Thanks to everyone at ELYC for another spectacular event!"

And in the handicap fleet Jon Shaw was demonstrating how to tame the Forth to the will of his Phantom:

"With four different winners in the four races, consistency was the name of the game in the handicap fleet. Despite losing out to Jamie Butterworth and James Orme (Dart 16, second overall) when the breeze was up, Angus Boyd (RS Aero, third overall) in mid-range and Jimmy Sandison (Phantom, fourth overall) in Saturday's driftathon; Jon Shaw's near monopoly on second places was enough for the overall win. Paul Cragg (RS Aero) in fifth was just two points away from a clear second, testament to the closeness of the racing. Special mention to Doug Laurie-Pile (D Zero), who was so intent on showing off the blasting credentials of his craft to the GP14 fleet that he had to take an early bath, having pulled a grin muscle or three."

In the 2000s, George Thomson and local instructor Ellen Clarke were in a head to head battle with local youngsters Bill and Grace Roberts. Bill and Grace took the honours thanks to some true sportsmanship shown by George.

All ashore for Luca's ice cream and prize giving by Commodore John Wilcox who was also on mark laying duty. The winners earned a bottle of North Berwick Gin and runners up took home Rooster Sailing vouchers. Finally competitors' and volunteers' aching bodies, burning muscles and grinning salt-washed faces made their way home to savour a fantastic regatta.

The full results compiled by Mike Rigg and Angela Yates can be found here.

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