After weeks of early summer sunshine and balmy winds, all seemed promising for one of Scotland’s premier yachting events, this year hosted by the Solway Yacht Club. Generously sponsored by Sulwath Brewers in Castle Douglas, the fleet of these fast elegant keelboats arrived in Kippford from all over the UK and Ireland ready for an early start on the tide on Saturday.
The weather had different ideas and gone was the sunshine and ideal wind, instead an overcast clammy heat and no wind at all. Despite this, the fleet was towed out into the Solway in the hope that a sea breeze might pick up. A couple of zephyrs wafting across the start line gave cause for optimism but came to nothing. After three hours drifting, waiting, and watching little more than a few jellyfish, Race Officer Willie Patterson had no option but to abandon racing for the day. The highlight feature of the event then appeared; the team of enthusiastic Solway Yacht Club cadets and young friends, led by SYC Cadet Captain, James Bishop, who formed the appropriately named “Shore fforce”, all set to haul the yachts on their trailers up the slipway and back to their berths, saving the crews all the hard work.
The Saturday social evening made up for earlier disappointment with a delicious meal cooked by the volunteer galley team followed by a very happy few hours in the clubhouse.
After overnight rain, Sunday morning dawned much fresher with the prospect of going racing. The fleet was again launched and as they reached the Solway, a steady ten knot South Easterly was blowing. With an Olympic triangle course set, racing at last got underway. A great tactical port-end start in race 1 by Mike Preston and Keith Jamieson had them leading the entire fleet early on but it wasn’t to last. The finish was as close as it gets, David McKee and Mal Hartland from Dovestones Sailing Club just taking the win from Andy Tunnicliffe and Ian Hopwood of Bassenthwaite SC with the Preston/Jamieson crew of Royal Windermere YC third. Best placed local crew was Colin Filer and Jamie Gascoigne, nineth. Race two and it was a repeat win for McKee/Hartland but third went to the rapidly improving Irish crew of Shane McCarthy and Richard Riggs from Greystones SC, South of Dublin.
Sadly, that was it for the racing but again the fleet were treated to another great haul-out performance by an even larger “Shore fforce” team, now including some very young ones, all hauling away, determined to do their bit for the visiting crews and their home club.
Prizegiving concluded the event with trophies and generously provided Sulwath beers for all the winners, plus a special Concours D’Elegance award won by the beautiful all wood varnished ff485, built in the 1950s. She had been restored by Graham Sharp and crewed by Frank Tindall from Plockton Small Boat Club, finishing tenth overall. Even more beers were awarded to the “fleet props”, the last finisher in each race with local crews Steve Gaughan and Christine Benson being the lucky crew in Race 1 but surprisingly, Scott Train and Anne Stewart in Race 2, more usually up with the leaders. The final beers went to Keith Jamieson, winner of the Shore fforce’s “best trailer and nice soft rope” prize!
1st David McKee and Mal Hartland, Dovestones SC
2nd Andy Tunnicliffe and Ian Hopwood, Bassenthwaite SC
3rd Mike Preston and Keith Jamieson, Royal Windermere YC
4th Shane McCarthy and Richard Riggs, Greystones SC
5th Andy McKee and Richard Jones, Dovestones SC
6th Julian Clarke and Nick Hampson, Royal Windermere YC
7th Neil Currie and Rory Yardley, Bassenthwaite SC
8th Colin Filer and Jamie Gascoigne, Solway YC
9th Christian Barnes and Nicholas Barnes, Ullswater SC
10th and Classic fleet winner:
Graham Sharp and Frank Tindall, Plockton Small Boat Club
11th Peter Mountain and David Guite, Blackpool & Fleetwood SC
12th Michael Harris and Sarah Harris, Blackpool & Fleetwood SC
13th Glen Fullerton and Craig McCracken, Cardwell Bay SC
14th Tim O’Brien and Colin Burns, Grafham Water SC
15th and Silver Fleet winner:
Scott Train and Anne Stewart, Solway YC
16th Andrew Johnston and Alice Johnston, Solway YC
17th Pete Hammond and John Sproat, Solway YC
18th Steve Gaughan and Christine Benson, Solway YC
19th David Heron and Peter Wright, Royal Windermere YC