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20th Anniversary 5 Castles Inter-Schools Team Racing Regatta

by Lindsay Tosh 20 Jun 2023 06:20 BST
Concentrating hard as rival team members battle it out during the 20th Anniversary 5 Castles Inter-Schools Team Racing Regatta © Lindsay Tosh

The twentieth anniversary 5 Castles Inter-Schools Team Racing Regatta was held on Friday 16th June at Galloway Activity Centre on Loch Ken.

Starting in a modest way at Annandale Sailing Club in Lochmaben as the brainchild of Willie Patterson, the idea being to give local schools in Dumfries and Galloway a chance to compete against each other and broaden the appeal of the sport of sailing. The enthusiasm of the local community soon brought in the Solway Yacht Club and the event grew, necessitating a move to Loch Ken where the Centre could provide for the numbers of children wanting to take part.

Initially, numbers increased, particularly with the advent of the "Tasters", non-sailors who came to have a day of fun on around the water under the expert eye of the Centre's professional instructors. After Covid caused a downturn, 2023 saw a return to something like past times with twelve racers and sixty-one "Tasters".

The weather was idyllic and close competition pervaded the racing fleet. After twelve tight races, victory and the Castle Loch Shield went to Dalbeattie High School's A team with Dalbeattie's B team not far behind. Competition was close and a modest gap separated third and fourth places. Both were combination teams with third place going to St Joseph's College/Dumfries Academy hotly pursued by Lockerbie Academy/Dumfries High School.

While the serious racing was going on, sixty-one youngsters had a whale of a time with the GAC instructors leading the through a wide range of outdoor activities both on land and on the water. Again competition was tight, but the Spirit Trophy went to Wallace Hall Academy who were judged to bring the highest level of fun and enthusiasm to proceedings.

Prizes were presented by Gordon Mercer of the Common Thread Group, the sponsors of the event alongside GAC. Both have given immense support to the event over many years with the aim of making sailing a sport for all. The Event Principal was Scott Train, Commodore of Solway Yacht Club doing the job for the second year before leadership rotates to Annandale. Seeing so many youngsters hugely enjoying the outdoor life was ample compensation for the hard work put in to make it happen. 2024 is already on the stocks.

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