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Hyde Sails Solo Undercover
Hyde Sails Solo Undercover

HD Sails Scottish Solo travellers at Loch Lomond Sailing Club

by Ross Watson 7 Sep 11:22 BST 2 September 2023
HD Sails Scottish Solo travellers at Loch Lomond © Susie Edmond

The Scottish Solo fleet arrived at Loch Lomond SC for the seventh of eight events in the HD Sails Scottish Solo travellers series. This was also to be the event to decide the Ben Ledi trophy for which all races count.

Loch Lomond SC are in a great position on the loch, with the clubhouse looking over the islands and with Ben Lomond visible in the distance. This year the club celebrate 150 years in existence from its early days as Clyde Canoe Club - a link the club retains to this day with the International Canoe nationals recently hosted.

The forecast was for hot sunny weather with the wind strengthening through the afternoon but driving across Scotland past motionless wind turbines did not bode well. On arrival we were greeted with all the bustle of a regatta weekend. Lots of boats from several classes arriving and managing to congregate in groups. It was already hot and sunny but with a light south westerly breeze. At the briefing the courses were outlined and a postponement signal went up. The race committee clearly know the local conditions well as the wind promptly died right away. The numerous paddleboarders on the loch seemed to have the right idea. In the event we did not get onto the water until well after 3pm when the breeze filled in. This gave plenty of time for boat chat and discussion with sailors from other classes. We discussed the possible venues for the 2024 season and needless to say everyone had their favourites. At the moment only the Scottish championships at Largo Bay SC have an agreed date in late August. Two of us spent some time extolling the virtues of the Solo fleet to a sailor from another fleet. We shall see if this results in a new addition to the Solo class! Mast rake was the subject of much attention and one sailor seemed to change his depending on who he last spoke to. Your scribe spotted the Sailingfast mobile chandlery and wandered over to enquire about a new mainsheet - ultimately leaving with a mainsheet, two kicker blocks and some rope!

When we did get afloat there was plenty of time to inspect the course and start line bias as we were last class to start, one advantage of a regatta. In the event it was very clear from the first RS200 start that there was a big port bias on the line and this was the same for all races. The wind was mostly between 5 and 10 knots for most of the races but was a bit lighter at times. For the first start Ross Watson started at the pin having been the last to tack onto starboard with Willie Todd above him. Willie was able to point high enough to keep his wind clear but Kevan Gibb had to tack away quickly. As the leading Solo's approached the windward mark from the left side of the course they found themselves mixed up with the previous class who had mostly gone right. Keeping your wind clear of the other classes suddenly became important. Willie led round the windward mark run and carefully covered the inside line down the run. Ross was next and Malcolm Worsley was close behind and just ahead of the rest of the fleet. Willie was still ahead at the last windward mark as the fleet reached across to the outer part of the trapezoid. Ross was second and narrowly managed to avoid being blanketed by a boat struggling with its spinnaker. Down the last run Ross gybed immediately and forced Willie to follow. When they gybed back to the mark Ross had managed to get an overlap before the last short reach to the finish. Malcolm was a good third with Charlie Brecknell, in a borrowed boat, next.

The second race was to be three rounds and this time the Solos were a bit too aggressive at the start resulting in a general recall. For the second start Ross hit the mark with Malcolm and Willie starting above him. By the second beat Charlie Brecknell had come through to lead after going up the left side of the course with Malcolm sailing consistently to be second. These two finished in that order but behind them positions were hard fought with lots of close racing and some shouting at a leeward mark from Robert Taylor leading to someone doing turns. Kevan came in third with Ross next. This was not an easy race with the wind lighter making the runs slow and the puffs of wind coming from astern livened things up. One boat headed for the wrong mark down the run but realised just in time to avoid much loss.

This second race did not finish until 5.45 and we were surely not going to have a third race? The other fleets were clearly waiting for another race and so off we went, starting just after 6pm. To their credit everyone stayed out for the third race. Malcolm, Charlie and Ross each had five points and so it was all to play for in the final race. Willie Todd made the best of the start at the pin end and was again pointing high. He was in front up the beat and with Malcolm just behind it seemed that Malcolm would be the winner of the Ben Ledi trophy. Charlie Brecknell then came through down the first tricky run when the wind dropped to only 3 knots which meant that he was now leading overall. The last beat was to prove crucial. The two leaders went left but were undone when the wind shifter further right than it had all day. Charlie managed to get back across and was still a little ahead at the last windward mark but Ross and Willie were now closer. Down the last run Ross caught up and when Charlie found himself stuck to leeward of a slow moving boat with a spinnaker he got ahead for the reach to the finish. Willie, Kevan and Robert finished very close together as the breeze filled in again.

Once ashore we all de-rigged quickly ahead of the drive home whilst the club arranged our prize-giving very promptly in front of the clubhouse in the evening sunshine. Ross was the winner of the HD Sails travellers and the Ben Ledi trophy but the result was in doubt until the very last mark. Second was Charlie Brecknell with Willie Todd in third. We left feeling a bit envious of the other sailors enjoying the barbecue and a few beers! We now have a break of a few weeks until the final event of the series at Loch Ard in early October where we hope for another good turnout.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoClubR1R2R3Pts
1Ross Watson5841East Lothian YC1416
2Charlie Brecknello43Channonry SC4127
3Willie Todd5801Largs SC25310
4Kevan Gibb6043Largo Bay SC63413
5Malcolm Worsley5602Royal Tay YC32914
6David Parkin5889Aberdeen & Stonehaven YC56718
7Robert Taylor4517Dalgety Bay SC77519
8Donald Aitken4850Largo Bay SC108624
9Patrick Burns5967Dalgety Bay SC891027
10Fergus Duncanson4929Loch Lomond SC1110829
11Bruce Birrell4502Largo Bay SC9111131

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