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Kippford RNLI Regatta Day 2021 at Solway Yacht Club

by Ian Purkis 25 Aug 18:06 BST 22 August 2021

Usually one of the highlights of Kippford Week, this year bad weather forced the original RNLI Regatta long distance race date to be postponed to Sunday 22nd August. With all entry fees being donated to the Kippford RNLI, it was particularly important the race wasn't lost to the weather.

Sadly, several of the visiting sailors hadn't been able to stay, so, as Sunday dawned bright and with a good weather forecast, it was predominantly the club's home fleet that prepared for launching. After the high winds of nine days earlier, the Race Officer, Lindsay Tosh, and his team faced the opposite situation; almost no wind.

Crews were briefed to expect a windward-leeward course on the East side of the estuary, avoiding the windless, sheltered West. Then, while the larger cruising yachts motored out into the Solway for the start of their race, most of the dinghy fleet and Flying Fifteens were towed out to the start line area.

After a short delay and with only a faint breeze from the North, the Race Committee had a very difficult decision; start the race and hope, or wait in the hope of more wind. However, the sunny conditions led them to judge that a sea breeze would develop, so they decided to get the race under way. The fast HCP1 and medium HCP2 handicap fleets started together with the Flying Fifteen keelboats next up and finally the slow HCP3 class.

Making the best of the conditions, Scott and Nicola McColm in their RS400 got a good start and pulled out an early lead, with the rest following almost all abreast, heading South.

As the fleet approached Rough Island, the wind dropped to virtually nothing and the fleet was becalmed with those close inshore avoiding the worst of the flood tide, the McColm crew now going backwards further out in the tide. The HCP2 class Comet dinghy of Anthony Walker found a few whispers of wind and managed to draw away from the rest but soon had to tack clear of the Rough Island rocks back into the tide.

A faint sea breeze started from the South and next to show were Ian and Margaret Purkis in their Firefly going as close in by the rocky shore as they dared while further out the McColms had got moving again. When crews' patience was being tested in the extreme, even the slightest breath of wind was welcomed and slowly a sea breeze started to build.

Eventually the McColms reached the turning mark "Y buoy", leading the HCP1 class followed not far behind by the Purkis crew, the leading HCP2 boat. The rest followed gradually spreading out while the leading Flying Fifteens started to catch and pass the HCP1 and two back markers.

The leaders were now on a gentle downwind run back up the estuary with the McColms gradually stretching their lead. Back in the HCP3 class mother and daughter crew of Rosie and Sally Mackay were using their Mirror spinnaker to best effect while some way behind Finn Harris (Pico) and Emily Biggar and Lewis Alexander (RS Feva) on the water.

Eventually the leading boats completed one long lap but again the Race Officer had a difficult decision; end the race then or let it continue in the hope of more wind and run its full length. Again, their judgement was perfect, race on!

Slowly but surely the sea breeze continued to build and now into lap 2 and everyone was sailing. After a poor start, the two HCP1 Finns of Stewart Mitchell and Keith Veasey were closing on the leaders, passing the Purkis' Firefly on the upwind leg.

However, the Firefly was enjoying now perfect conditions for the classic design, stretching her HCP2 lead. Once past "Y Buoy" for the second time, the leading Flying Fifteen of Colin Filer and Jamie Gascoigne caught and passed the Purkis' Firefly but the Finns were closing in.

After over two hours it was line honours for the McColms but they were unlucky to find the Mitchell Finn had closed just enough to beat them on handicap corrected time, taking the HCP1 class. The Purkis' Firefly crew were clear winners of the HCP2 class, both on the water and on handicap, although the Laser Radial of Finlay Train wasn't far behind as they finished.

While the competitors had had a challenging, patience-testing time, it was the Race Officer and his assistant who deserved huge credit for getting it exactly right when it mattered, with every boat completing the course and finishing. The many Kippford visitors on the sunny day must have enjoyed watching the race unfold, hardly believing it could be started in such light winds.

Prize-giving in the sunshine on the club lawn concluded a great day with the Club Commodore, Robert Dinwiddie, presenting a cheque for more than £700 to Gareth Jones, the Kippford RNLI Operations Manager.

HCP 1 Fast Handicap:

1st Stewart Mitchell (Finn)
2nd Scott and Nicola McColm (RSfourzero0)
3rd Keith Veasey (Finn)
4th Richard Colbeck & Joanna Kelly (Buzz)

HCP2 Medium Handicap:

1st Ian & Margaret Purkis (Firefly)
2nd Finlay Train (Laser Radial)
3rd Stewart Biggar (Laser 4.7)
4th Hamish MacDonald (Laser Radial)
5th Anthony Walker (Comet)

HCP3 Slow Handicap:

1st Rosie & Sally Mackay (Mirror)
2nd Finn Harris and Toren Dale (Pico)
3rd Emily Biggar & Lewis Alexander (RS Feva XL)
4th Lucy Bell (Topper)
5th Toby Iglehart and James Colbeck (Pico)
6th Katie Harris and Jack Johnstone (RS Feva XL)

Flying Fifteens:

1st Colin Filer and Jamie Gascoigne
2nd Scott Train and Anne Stewart
3rd Chris Mitchell and Ian Murgatroyd
4th Gordon Daly & Jane Gascoigne
5th Andrew Johnstone & Anna Grafton


1st David Henderson and David Butler (Hawk 20)
2nd John Searle, Stewart Monaghan and Gareth Jones (Pegasus 800)
3rd Robert Dinwiddie & John Wood (Hunter 20)
4th Sandy Mair & Dave Richardson (Hunter 20)
5th Mark Harris & Ronnie Coutts (Sadler 29)

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