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Musto Skiff Scottish and Northern Series traveller at Chanonry Sailing Club

by Jamie Hilton 15 Aug 12:30 BST 5-7 August 2022
Musto Skiff Scottish and Northern Series traveller at Chanonry © Carolyn Shelley

Nestled on the southern shores of the Black Isle, Chanonry Sailing Club enjoys a superb location on the Moray Firth with its protected sailing waters, just landwards of Chanonry Point, and its world-famous bottlenose dolphin population. Then, looking west, the mountains of the Great Glen provide further splendour to this incredible venue. Couple that with a brilliant wee club and the recipe is there for some fantastic sailing.

So, with that in mind, the fine-looking forecast and the promise of three days sailing resulted in a somewhat bumper turnout with 17 boats making the journey north to these promised waters, for the Open Dinghy Regatta incorporating Musto Skiff Traveller.

Friday

Friday's training saw 12 boats take to the water to enjoy the conditions and chisel off any rust. Jamie Hilton and Ben Yeats were in the rib to provide video work and training kindly supported by RYA Scotland, with a class-room session once home and hosed in the clubhouse. Fish and chips followed, washed down with a fine assortment of the award winning 'Dog-Falls' beers - the kind sponsors of the weekend event.

Later still and onwards to local favourite, 'The Anderson' bar, where a warm welcome was provided to the late coming stragglers rolling in off the A9.

Saturday

For Saturday, "blowing dogs off chains" was the comment that Jono Shelley made at breakfast, which was somewhat alarming, as he'd just been out walking his dog of substantial proportions. Thankfully, though, this first day proved to be a cracker with sunshine, double digit temperatures and a F3-4, gusting 5s blowing directly up the firth, and a tasty looking championship two lap course laid.

Fast out the blocks were Shelley and Hilton, with Billy Maughan 'winning' the un-fancied pin end in his new boat, which was freshly unwrapped and blindingly shiny. Shelley won the beat, but it was Hilton who led into the leeward gate, where only once rounded, did Shelley kindly communicate Hilton's navigation error. In unpicking that mess, it was Maughan who had the last laugh overhauling Shelley and taking the first win of the day. Those new boats are fast.

A similar tale again in the second race with Maughan still fancying the unfavoured pin end with Hilton and Shelley battling for top spot up the beat. Again, the leeward gate proved Hilton's nemesis, this time capsizing to avoid mounting the stern of Shelley as he rounded slow and slightly wide. However, on this occasion, Shelley did enough to win but it was closer than he'd have liked from the charging Hilton and Maughan.

Third race, and it was shaping up for another cookie cutter, carbon copy (call it what you like), same again, until Hilton fell in again, this time on a gybe literally falling out the back of the boat. Maughan was forced into a gybe to avoid the floundering Hilton, his face a picture of glee having had the proverbial box office seat. It was all looking good for Shelley and Maughan going into the final run before a monster gust got the better of them as they attempted to gybe for the gate.

This left Ian Trotter and Euan Hurter to ride out the same gust but land their gybes (hairily so), with Hurter just sneaking the win. The fleet were buzzing as they came ashore - a properly fun day on the water - one of those where everyone had a tale to tell.

Overnight, with three separate race winners, it was Shelley leading by a point ahead of Maughan. Hilton was way down the pecking order (much to the amusement of Tom Conway, who'd hardly put a foot wrong all day), incurring the banter of the fleet who offered their coaching services and ridicule of coming here to watch floundering mammals of a different species.

Then onwards once more to 'The Anderson', where the fleet and friends (close to 30 of us) enjoyed a superb meal from the smokehouse and a few whiskies.

Sunday

Sunday now, and a similar picture to that of the previous day - albeit with the temperature now ratcheting up beyond 20degrees. Even the southerners were peeling off. With the wind forecast to increase modestly throughout the day, it was shaping up for another belter.

Race 4, and the first of the day saw Hilton and Shelley work the left side of the beat looking handsome for a clear margin at the top mark, before realising that Maughan had literally changed tack and had headed hard inshore, which he turned into a substantial lead. Hilton, finding yet more rough edges endured another swim with the dolphins, leaving Shelley to chase Maughan on his own.

This looked like a good battle from a distance, but one where Maughan held on to win. Some close nip and tuck racing behind these two with Hilton managing to overhaul Hurter and Trotter for third.

Races five and six, and finally Hilton managed to race without any capsizes. Harking back to the coaching notes... "These are fast boats. Keep the stick in the sky and you'll do alright". And so, it proved, with coach Hilton taking both bullets to win the day.

Overall, though, Shelley was consistently closest to the front, making the fewest errors and very deservedly taking the crown for the 2022 edition of our pilgrimage to Chanonry. Really well sailed on his part, and that too of Maughan who had literally just jumped into his new boat (did I mention they were fast) to win second spot on the podium only two points behind.

My highlights from the weekend...

  • 17 boats making the trip north. Fantastic to see. Special mention to David Annan who flew up from London to see what the fuss is about.
  • Steve Robson's big handshake to say he'd had a brilliant weekend seeing massive benefits from the coaching on the Friday.
  • Ian Trotter's endless enthusiasm, coming ashore Saturday afternoon claiming the final run of the day alone made the weekend worth it.
  • Tom Conway offering reverse coaching services after keeping it upright all day. He sailed brilliantly.
  • Two brilliant socials with a great bunch of mates. Good times!

Fantastic to see so many boats make the trip and easy to see why when we get conditions like we had coupled with the brilliant hospitality and race management provided by the umpteen club volunteers. It really is a superb weekend package and calendars are already marked for next year. Thanks again to Lisa and the team at Chanonry SC and to Dog-Falls for their fantastic beers and sponsorship of the weekend.

Next stop is Eastbourne SC at the other end of the country for the Noble Marine UK Musto Skiff National Championships over September 1st - 4th.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoatHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st566 Jono ShelleyUllswater / Largs21‑32229
2nd637OviBill MaughanSunderland YC13‑413311
3rd618Rogue WaveJamie HiltonWormit / Dalgety Bay SC‑62631113
4th464 Euan HurterDalgetty Bay SC/Point YC3‑5145417
5th546 Ian TrotterDerwent Reservoir SC5425‑7521
6th500 Tom ConwayDerwent Reservoir SC4751012(DNS)38
7th620TC2Steve RobsonSunderland YC791098(DNS)43
8th590 David AnnanGrafham Water SC146979(DNC)45
9th598TankIan EscrittYorkshire Dales SC11107(DNC)10745
10th552Flash Dance IIBen YeatsChanonry SC911‑121211649
11th374 Alistair KerrAberdeen & Stonehaven YC108118RET(DNC)53
12th255Broadcast AlertAndrew ScottDalgetty Bay SC16128(DNC)6RET56
13th625 John McAfeeDerwent Reservoir SC813(RET)1113DNS59
14th527SwedgerAndrew HootonHoly Loch SC(DNC)DNCDNC64RET60
15th593YFCAndrew BoydAberdeen & Stonehaven YC12RETRETRET(DNC)DNS75
16th550BFFJon BaileyChanonry SC1514RETRETRET(DNC)77
17th521 Iain MortonChanonry SC13DNSDNS(DNC)DNCDNC83

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