Not a lot to report here because we launched late and did little! But here’s a brief summary, written at two years’ distance and singularly lacking in detail...
Something that did get done was to strip off all the old antifouling (where a considerable build-up in places had put me off tackling this much-needed job since buying the boat!) and fair the bottom and keel. And this proved to be every bit as horrendous a task as anticipated, with several applications of Dilunett, much scraping, chiseling and pressure-washing, a flying visit from Twig with power tools to clean up the keel (subsequently painted with several layers of Gelshield before filling and re-fairing) and endless elbow grease with Finefill, coarse wet-and-dry and a long baton. Since this basically took me weeks to accomplish (and we also had all the new electrics, steering compasses and primary winches to fit), the boat nearly wasn’t ready for Twig to take to the Scottish Series in May and I found myself quite affected by the pressure of knowing that I might wreck everything for him and his crew.
So why was Twig taking Fly to the Clyde without me? It’s quite simple really, because I asked him to! With the (rather grandly named) Impala 28 European Championships coming to the Scottish Series on Loch Fyne for the first Scottish Impala one-design start in years and me teaching and unable to race the Friday or Monday, I was desperate to see Fly take part and Twig was more than capable of raising a crew and racing her for me. (So capable, in fact, that he managed to arrange the full six for the whole regatta, leaving — admittedly by mutual agreement — no place for her jealous owner to jump aboard for the weekend!) Now, it’s all but impossible for me to report on a regatta I was nowhere near, but I do know it was windy, Fly came fourth out of eight (and was by all accounts unlucky not to do better) with a best placing of second in the first Saturday race, and the class (+ European Championship!) was well won by Charlie Hussey’s Bluestreak from Port Edgar.
My first racing of the year was at Glencoe Regatta, about which I can remember virtually nothing except that (I think) Alistair Olsen raced the boat up from Oban for me in the Friday passage race and Lorna crewed (and brought me crew?) for the Saturday.
And so to West Highland Week, which formed the rest of my year’s decidedly thin programme after I had to pull out of a trip to Bangor Week at the eleventh hour with absolutely no crew. So Lorna and friends were crewing once more, but two of the girls jumped ship after a windy Tuesday’s racing to the Mull shore and back and we were left desperately short-handed again. Nevertheless, before this mutiny we’d already enjoyed a cracking light round-the-buoys at Oban, marred only by a desperate anticlimax when a foul at the final mark by a boat in another class cost us a certain race win to give a grateful Highpointer a fourteen second victory on handicap! (We’d have protested the culprit, but left it because we had no chance of redress from interference by another class and nothing to gain from sour grapes.)
Can’t remember how many (or few) we had on board to Tobermory, but think it might have been just three (being myself, Lorna and Keith Falconer, who sailed most of the week with us and had already brought his young son aboard for a day). What I can remember is that we didn’t do very well and were getting skinned (Impala-wise) by Mersonary in particular when the wind was up. While we didn’t do greatly better (seventh instead of ninth) round the Tobermory buoys, we did at least have a more enjoyable race with a full complement of six and some slick crewing from three lads we’d borrowed from a large Class 4 boat (Sovereign 51?) called Scorpio. But everything came good at last on the final Friday’s breezy kite run back to Oban when, with just Lorna and Keith to crew, we finally saw off both Impala rivals Mersonary and Orrkid as well as old sparring partner Fred Mahood’s class-winning Hydro Rampart to record a third place (our second best of the week) and restore some credibility to our scoreline.
Overall it was a disappointing week’s racing, with our seventh (out of eleven) in Class 5 representing one of our worst series results at this regatta. But the near miss (aka daylight robbery!) on the Monday, cracking run on the Friday and stalwart support from Lorna and Keith were all considerable compensation for the low points and I’d welcome these two back on board at any time. Sadly, however, I find my interest in West Highland Week waning with the new class bands for 2007 pushing us from the sharp end of Class 5 to the blunt end of Class 7 (and putting Rampart unbelievably into Class 8!), so I’m not as sorry as I might have been to be missing the 2007 60th Anniversary Regatta after not getting the boat ready following all those busy months of training for the ‘other’ WHW (aka West Highland Way Race) on 23 June.
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