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Musto Skiff Hyde Sails Series at Largs Sailing Club

by Jamie Hilton 15 Jun 16:10 BST 12-13 June 2021
Musto Skiff Hyde Sails Series at Largs © Hilary Connelly

It's a great feeling when you come ashore and the whole boat park is buzzing after being treated to a ripper of a weekend. Four hotly contested races on the Saturday and an absolute belter of a Sunday with three races served up under blue skies and 20kts blowing straight up the channel. What a treat!

The weekend event was brilliantly hosted by Largs SC, and much applause is deserved on their part for the organisation required to put on a show for nearly 60 boats (split between D-Zeros, RS400s, 29ers, and Musto Skiffs). No mean feat, I'm sure.

For the Musto Skiffs, 19 entrants were drawn in from across Scotland, as well as the usual rabble from Derwent Reservoir, and two notable efforts made by Ben Schooling and Nigel Walbank, who ventured up from the south coast of England. With enthusiasm running rife in the fleet, many arrived in Largs on the Friday evening for the rumoured promise of a sneaky sail and the much-anticipated news that Danny's Disco Bus would be rolling into town. Things were shaping up rather nicely.

Four afternoon races ensued on the Saturday, in what would have been a lovely 10-15kt breeze; had the obstacle of the island of Cumbrae not been in the way. Using the full width of the Largs Channel, a course was set and some lively racing followed in a contest of 'eyes out of the boat' sailing. If nothing else, it was great tacking practice.

The first race saw Jamie Hilton show the fleet a clean pair for heels, for what looked like an unassailable lead, only for the second beat to see him overhauled by Dan Trotter who took a flyer hard up the right-hand side. Dan held the lead until what we all thought was the finish, only to realise we were a lap short (inexcusable I know - the sun was clearly getting to us). Hilton and Shelley were first to realise and contested the final lap to finish in that order. Dan was left to rue the mistake that ultimately cost him the crown, eventually finishing 9th.

The second race... well, I'd love to have written more but I was left marooned at the top mark of the first lap. This time, though, Dan Trotter did claim his victory, followed across the line by Schooling and Shelley (who did remarkably well to dig himself out). It did all look rather tight though (from a distance).

By the third race, the fleet had wised up to the fact that the right side of the course was delivering consistently better pressure, and the key decisions were when to try and nibble one's way back to the left. The same could be said for the downwind leg, where picking the lanes of pressure was key. DT again was proving most adept in these conditions and took line honours, again from Jono, with Stu Keegan taking third.

Similar conditions again for the 4th race, although after a long day on the water and a dropping breeze, the race officer finished things up after a single lap; this time, Brian Greensmith taking the win from Jono Shelley (again in second), and Euan Hurter taking third.

Overnight the lead lay with Jono who barely put a foot wrong in really quite challenging conditions. Dan lay second with a cluster close behind all separated by the odd point here and there. Back on shore, LSC's galley team relentlessly served up a string of burgers (and cold beers) for the fleet to enjoy whilst enjoying the evening sun.

For Sunday, we weren't quite sure what to expect. Some forecasts had it down as a light wind day, whilst others were showing some hints of a moderate southerly. To the surprise (and perhaps a hint of trepidation) of many, we launched in southerly 15-20kts, white horses galloping, blue skies and the wind blowing true up the channel... miles and miles of uninterrupted runway. It was perfect.

Race 1 saw the majority of the fleet take-off up the left side of the beat with Jono looking in great shape. But it was Hilton who found a different gear and drove his way to the front, leading in from the top left. Hilton took another flyer downwind following a gybe-set, and by the leeward mark was some way ahead. Two more blissful laps to enjoy before Hilton 'officially' took the win. DT was 2nd, Jono third. Everyone was smiling.

The second race started much the same as the first, with Hilton leading into the top mark followed by Jono and Dan. A bit of traffic at the leeward mark prevented Hilton tacking up the favoured left side of the beat. However, with Jono and Dan both digging in following out right, Hilton saw no reason to tack back. Although, Euan Hurter, despite being someway back, hit the left-hand side and consequently sailed inside the leading group who were dealt a rough hand in the form of the big leftie. Euan sailed on for victory and Stuart Keegan (another benefactor of the left side) latched onto a perfect lane of pressure to sail through for second from a despairing Hilton.

Dan Trotter nailed the start of the third and final race taking both the pin end and ownership of the left hand side. He pulled away throughout the next two laps for what looked like a comfortable win. Hilton, Shelley, Robbie Wilson and Ian Trotter were enjoying a good ding-dong for second, with Shelley narrowly ahead at the top of the final run. A ripper of a gust changed the angle of the lay, and Jono took the decision to drop early. Hilton saw his opportunity and was looking good for the inside lane at the leeward mark, only to fluff his lines and end up in the drink. Jono gleefully took second, with Trotter and Wilson crossing next.

Back ashore, everyone was buzzing, especially after the stonker of a final run, where in such conditions these boats really do revel. Back to business and a quick tot up of the scores told us that Jono was to be crowned champion, narrowly taking it from Dan. A really closely fought out weekend where consistency paid. Arguably, though, it could easily be said that we were all winners. It's just so nice to get back racing and bantering again with faces old and new.

A massive thanks to Largs Sailing Club, the efforts made by all the volunteers, and to Harken who sponsored the event. Another huge thank you to Hyde Sails who sponsored the Musto Skiffs with champagne prizes for the winners. Shelley took another first place for, what was, the 3rd event in the Hyde Sails Series, putting him pole position for the Hyde Sails spinnaker at the close of the series.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1stGBR566Jono SHELLEYLargs SC23223‑7214
2ndGBR610Dan TROTTERDerwent Reservoir SC‑911724116
3rdGBR593Jamie HILTONDalgety Bay / Wormit1‑136513521
4thGBR464Euan HURTERPYC/DBSC‑857341626
5thGBR533Stuart KEEGANDerwent Reservoir SC4‑123452927
6thGBR605Robbie WILSONWORMIT boating club365‑10105433
7thGBR546Ian TROTTERDerwent Reservoir SC54‑136710335
8thGBR627Ben SCHOOLINGStokes Bay SC628‑998841
9thGBR629Brian GREENSMITHDerwent Reservoir SC1110‑12169744
10thGBR628Danny BOATMANDerwent Reservoir SC Sailing Club77‑1188111051
11thGBR500Tom CONWAYDerwent Reservoir SC1099‑1313121164
12thGBR374Alistair KERRAberdeen & Stonehaven Yacht Club(DNF)810111414RET77
13thGBR255Andrew SCOTTDBSC14‑15151215131281
14thGBR527Andrew HootonHolyLoch1311(RET)DNC126RET82
15thGBR058Paul ANDERSONLargs SC151641416(RET)DNC85
16thGBR253Joey TrotterDerwent Reservoir SC1614(RET)DNC11DNCDNC101
17thGBR394Nigel WALBANKLymington Town SC17171415(RET)DNCDNC103
18thGBR620Steve ROBSONDerwent Reservoir SC12(RET)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC112
19thGBR287Martin KeeganDerwent Reservoir SC(RET)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC120

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