Round Mull Race 2001

Plenty of sunshine, from flat calms to twenty-five knots of wind, and twenty-five boats including three trimarans...

Things get off to a pretty hectic start with a battery charging failure, some problems fitting a new tiller extension and a crew member who doesn’t think we’ll need him (‘catch up with you in Tob...’) because it’s going to be light! So we set off four-up (me, Keith, Gill, Karen) for a first leg in zero wind, which shortly takes the whole fleet by surprise by filling in to provide a challenging beat up the Sound of Mull with apparent winds into the high teens and low twenties. Hard work without enough crew weight, but we hold the No.1 all the way to Tobermory, effectively match-racing the last few miles with Ronnie MacKillop and his Wise-Crack team, who finish three seconds in front of us to beat us for the first time. But the bigger, faster boats such as Finale (Dehler 39) and Blyth Spirit (X332) are away and clear in our class, believed to have had more of a long, single tack up the last stretch.

Saturday’s start is postponed and moved out to Ardmore Point, where a breeze finally fills in to provide a short fetch/white sail reach broadening to a kite run for the rest of the day. Still no sign of our missing crew member, but we pick up Alistair from Tomy and find ourselves back up to respectable numbers if still a little short of weight! Humpty Dumpty, Blyth Spirit and Amber Haze set off somewhere west of the Treshnish Isles (possibly heading for the Caribbean?), but most of the fleet steers zig-zag broad reaches in the general direction of Bunessan, where we all arrive still quite closely bunched together. A glorious day for the Impalas in the end, with Fly and Wise-Crack taking first and second respectively in Class 1 (albeit slightly overshadowed by some spectacular times from the top end of Class 2) and beating our previous nemesis Farr Out (Laser 28) into third. With the smaller boats having as good a day as the big boats had on the first leg, things look very tight at the top of the fleet for the final day.

Sunday’s final leg starts with a recall. Is it us? Not sure, but we come back to make certain, followed shortly by Amber Haze. So a free start for Wise-Crack wasn’t part of the game plan, but we catch and pass her on the beat out of Bunessan, which is very satisfying. Kites go up as we come through the Sound of Iona (Twig’s planned photo session already compromised as K**th sets the Fly inside out!), and we enjoy a spectacular run — and duel with a resurgent Wise-Crack — out through the Torran Rocks in a true breeze building to the mid twenties. Trouble ahead, however, with the breeze already dead or dying at Frank Lockwood’s Island, and our fatal mistake comes when we gybe offshore to pick up more wind. A bad move, as the inshore boats start to move again — slowly, but surely, wriggling free into the distance — and all we can do is wallow and watch! Several hours later we’ve all had enough, and it seems more sensible to retire and let Gill get back to Aberdeen at a sane time than to hold out for a finish at all costs when someone’s simply turned off the wind. It’s painful seeing Wise-Crack escaping to what turns out to be an overall third, but someone had to hold up the honour of the Impalas and we think they might even have felt sorry for us in the end!

‘Fast’ monohulls and overall trophy (Torran Rock) won by Farr Out, ‘slow’ monohulls by Cynara (Contessa 32) and multihulls by Pete’s Dragon (Dragonfly 800).

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