In Hot Pursuit, Solway Yacht Club Platinum Jubilee Water Pageant And A Blast From The East

Kippford, the Urr estuary and Rough Firth saw one of its busiest, most colourful weekends ever, with great activities on and off the water.

Starting on Thursday with the Solway Yacht Club’s Spring Pursuit Race, run over 100 minutes with a nail-biting photo finish, followed on Jubilee Day with the grand water pageant, including an estimated sixty craft of all shapes and sizes, and concluded on Saturday with races for both the experienced and Cadets in bright sunshine and a strong gusty Easterly wind.

The Spring Pursuit Race had a variety of entrants from Cadets to the highly experienced, all with handicaps set by boat rating, getting underway in a pleasant light Southerly wind. Pursuit racing has the slower rated boats starting first, with the faster rated starting later and once all have started, it’s a chase down to the final seconds, with the winner being the leading boat when the timing gun sounds. So, it was young James Colbeck in his Topper who was first to start but was unlucky to get stuck against the incoming tide, losing time in the process. Next away were Ian and Margaret Purkis in their Firefly followed by the rest, the powerful Flying Fifteen of Colin Filer and Jamie Gascoigne being one of the last to start. The Purkis Firefly built a big lead as the fleet headed out to a mark set off White Port Bay before turning to Castle Point. With the chasing fleet closing in, it seemed John and Val Broadbent in their GP14 or Keith Veasey in his Finn posed the biggest threat to the Firefly’s lead, but still leading as they headed back to Rough Island, the Firefly was holding on by fifty yards; now the Filer/Gascoigne crew heading the chasing pack. Back out towards Horse Isles Bay the minutes were ticking down with the Flying Fifteen closing in. At 99 minutes, 50 seconds the Firefly held on, but it wasn’t to be. In this David and Goliath battle, Goliath won, just, with only five seconds to spare the Filer/Gascoigne Flying Fifteen took the lead. Race timing and safety boat crews hadn’t seen a closer finish in years, but it was full compliments to Duncan Gillespie, the Race Officer who had set the perfect handicap times.


A complete change of mood for Friday with the Jubilee Water Pageant. With the threat of rain holding off, multiple boats, sail and power, canoes, kayaks, rowing skiffs, paddle boards and just about anything that floated, took to the water for a procession up and down the estuary celebrating the Queen’s seventy-year reign. Most were highly decorated with appropriate Jubilee bunting and flags and much merriment was had by all. The pictures tell the story best.

Gascoigne Flying Fifteen got ahead just at the gun!

Saturday and back to the racing. In beautiful sunshine and a strong Easterly wind funnelling down off and between the Galloway hills, a challenging time was to be expected. The fleet was split into the experienced, racing way out in the bay while Race Officer Simon Wilson also set a short inshore course for the younger Cadets in their RS Feva dinghies. Once afloat the strength of the gusts was quickly apparent, and it wasn’t long after the start that Finlay Train in his Laser Radial was the first to capsize. Recovering quickly, he was back in the race, but it was Scott Train and Anne Stewart in their Flying Fifteen who were contesting the lead with Stewart Mitchell in his Finn. Confusion at the second mark saw several boats take the wrong course but it presented the Train / Stewart crew with a big lead, followed by the Filer/Gascoigne crew, earlier held up briefly running aground. Mitchell recovered from his course error by completing an extra lap, all good practice as he’s about to depart for the Finn class World Championships in Helsinki where big winds and high seas will test all concerned. Race two and now the gusts were becoming even more vicious but with only one retirement the fleet was enjoying great sailing. Special highlight was the performance of cadets Katie Bishop and Nicola McColm, graduated into the main fleet, sailing the powerful RS400 who kept the boat upright and sailing fast throughout, against expectations of at least one who suffered his own capsize earlier!

While all this was going on the junior Cadets were having their own races inshore, coached by Joanne Harris the Club’s Cadet Officer and her team. Given the conditions they all did amazingly well to get round the course. Rounding G buoy at the same time as the main fleet added an extra bit of drama and experience for the Cadets too. There were a few capsizes. Tamsin and James, and Lilli and Ida, who all managed to get upright and carry on without any intervention from the coach boat. Combining the Cadets’ two races a 4-way tie was declared, recognising all the young sailors’ achievements.


Race results:


Spring Pursuit Race

  1. Colin Filer/ Jamie Gascoigne (Flying Fifteen)
  2. Ian and Margaret Purkis (Firefly)
  3. Stephen Gaughan and Richard Colbeck (Osprey)
  4. Keith Veasey (Finn)
  5. John & Val Broadbent (GP14)
  6. Katie Harris (ILCA 6 Laser Radial)
  7. James Colbeck (Topper)


Club Races (combined result, 2 races):


  1. Scott Train / Anne Stewart (Flying Fifteen)
  2. Stewart Mitchell (Finn)
  3. Colin Filer / Jamie Gascoigne (Flying Fifteen)
  4. Stephen Gaughan / Richard Colbeck (Osprey)
  5. Katie Bishop / Nicola McColm (RS 400)
  6. Ian and Margaret Purkis (Firefly)


Cadets’ races:


1st race –
1st – Tamsin and James
2nd – Lucy and Finn
3rd – Toby and Jack
4th – Lilli & Ida

2nd Race
1st – Toby and Jack
2nd – Lilli and Ida
3rd – Finn and Lucy
4th – Tamsin and James