Having arrived back from St Malo with some three or four hours to spare before the start and failed to round up my gigantic Wednesday night crew of four, I find myself hoping for little or no wind. Jim is available, but Archie is not, and Iain sheepishly phones from Inverness with just too little time left having mistaken the date! (Why didn’t I phone his parents instead of keep trying his ****** mobile?)
Seven o’clock, and where is the wind? Conspicuous by its absence, even for an Impala two-up! Only Sionnach (Foxterrier) and Squirt (Hunter 19) have bothered to join us, but they’re each carrying crews of three. What has happened to our once promising average of six to seven boats per race?
Up go the boards displaying ‘5S’ (at approximately 2 miles, our shortest possible course). Tiny zephyrs come and go although, even with next to no wind, it’s virtually impossible to set the pole and trim the genoa efficiently with two as we prepare to round Eilean Munde. In and out of the merest whispers, punctuated by glassy calms and a little bit of kite work (no wraps!), we eventually make it to the finish at twelve minutes past eight. We work out elapsed times to win for the other two, hang around long enough to make sure they can’t do it and scarper under engine.
Now comes the interesting bit. Nine o’clock, and we’re just flaking down the mainsail at the mooring when we hear a loud screech followed by a crash from the road above. Rowing ashore to investigate, I discover a head-on collision on the awkward bend just to the east of the mooring. A hired Mercedes A class with a young couple from Slovenia (on the first day of their holiday) has come round the bend on the wrong side of the road and taken out a Rover 214 with a family from Hartlepool. Fortunately the speeds were slow and nobody is hurt, but the Rover isn’t going anywhere under its own steam. I leave Jim to pack up the boat while I take the Hartlepool children and granny to their holiday cottage in Kinlochleven, before returning to offer what further assistance I can.
To get back to the yacht racing, three boats really is a miserable turnout and the series places are in danger of becoming a mere attendance register. Still, having come a close second to Elrhuna and Fascinator with Wyvern and Fly respectively in the first two years of the series, it must be my turn to win that trophy whether I have to beat two boats or ten to do it. What happens to the series in future is another matter, and I find it hard to summon up a lot of enthusiasm for racing with a perpetual fleet of three or four.
Squirt (Hunter 19, David Cooper) RET (DNF)
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