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Jeff Kay and your servitor made the trip over to Glasgow for the 2004 Scottish Ranking event in Lochwinnoch. First of all, Wow the people... Warm Scottish welcome and fantastic organisation. It was my first IOM event and so I didn’t know what to expect. But it is very clear. My biggest apprehension was to race with so many boats (avg 14-18 boats per fleet), and the way the fleets worked.

Second,  the lake... Imagine Malahide estuary but with a concrete footpath at the edge and a pontoon. Absolutely superb for model boat.

Third, the swans... At this time of the year they had their off-spring with them and some of them did not want to know if you were coming on starboard to them. They just would not move.

Forth, the racing... Well starting with another 16 other boats can be really tricky. No chance of a port start there !!! I think I must have been 4 or 5 times OCS and had to do a 360 twice at the start. Oh boy it is not good to start a race last. Even though the races are not short it is difficult to catch up and I had plenty of that to do during the Saturday.

Not easy sometimes to judge the distance and the first weather mark is always a pain as the pack want to round it pretty much at the same time. Now  I knew why at the briefing Alistair was insistent about respecting the rules and being sportsman.

One thing I had not expected was to become observer. Yes competitors were asked to participate in the race organisation to call contacts between competitors. Totally new concept to me but sure enough I got in the swing of it pretty quickly.

And finally the results. Well I was thrilled with my results. I had made few trips up in the A fleet, with a short sejour in the C fleet but finishing the day in the A fleet. Result 13/37. Jeff was less happy with some problem with his mast rake he had speed issues and ended up further down the ranking. But did much better on the Sunday, finishing 15/37. As for me the Sunday started good with races in B then A fleet but as the wind died down so was my speed and I got stuck in C fleet towards the end, finishing in the 20th.

Racing in “big” fleets is an experience and it is certainly one that most Irish Skipper should get. I would hope that more of us will be able to travel to events in the UK. It was certainly a great learning experience for me. My biggest take away is that my boat is as fast as most of the top UK sailors. I am looking forward to the next event to further grow my experience of fleet sailing.

You can find the results on the Scottish website or by clicking here. (coming soon)
You can see some of the pictures and sunburn of Saturday here.  

Gilbert Louis
June 2004
2 Irish Skippers at the
2004 Scottish Ranking Event