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Catherinefield Windows RNLI Regatta at Solway Yacht Club

by Ian Purkis 7 Sep 2020 22:22 PDT 5-6 September 2020

After the long months of lockdown and the cancellation of the 2020 Solway Yacht Club Cadet and Kippford Weeks, and after a patient wait, the latest Scottish Government Covid-19 precautions permitted a controlled and limited resumption of competitive sailing.

So, after careful planning, led by John Broadbent, the Club's hugely experienced Sailing Secretary, the Committee agreed to limit Regatta Race entries to SYC members only instead of the usual Open event, keeping Covid risk to a minimum. It was also agreed to run a second day of Club racing with all the races to comprise the much shortened 2020 Club Championship.

The Regatta Race is one of every season's highlights, and special as going back many years it has been traditional for all the entry fees to be donated to the Kippford RNLI. As with many charities, the Kippford RNLI shop has remained closed and since March, all social fund-raising events have been cancelled leading to a dramatic reduction in income. However, thanks to the very generous sponsorship by Dumfries based Catharinefield Windows Ltd and the company's donation to Kippford RNLI of £1000, the Club was hopeful of being able to make a much larger total contribution than usual.

While the forecast strong winds had moderated to a fresh breeze, the entrants were split into two fleets by Principal Race Officer, Willie Patterson; the larger cruising yachts sailing out of the bay and on to a course round Hestan Island while the substantial dinghy fleet raced round an inshore course. With the larger yachts setting off first, the dinghy fleet were next off with the GP14 of brother and sister Cadet crew of James and Katie Bishop getting a particularly good start. But, lurking further back was the powerful F18 catamaran of Scott and Nicola McColm, the father and daughter crew blasting through the fleet and very nearly embarrassing the lead (safety) boat by almost overtaking them. Next up and leading monohull at the first mark was the Osprey of Steve Gaughan and Martin Metcalfe while brother and sister Flying Fifteen crew, Scott Train and Anne Stewart were in very close company with two singlehanded Olympic Finn class dinghies of Stewart Mitchell and Mark Crowther. In the medium handicap class Douglas Hay was going well in his Solo dinghy as was Simon Wilson in his Laser Radial. In the slow handicap fleet Cadets Tamsin Wallace and Mollie Keiley (RS Feva) were well up but it was father and daughter crew of Hamish and Sally MacKay in their Mirror dinghy who were really embarrassing some of the faster rated with their speed.

Sadly, the Osprey's hopes of a good result ended with a capsize and swim, but Lilli Bell, also a capsize, recovered quickly and back in her Topper, both boats raced. Further back another Cadet crewed RS Feva of Stevie Gaston and Josh McDougal were keeping up progress despite some, by now, pretty testing wind conditions, flat calm interspersed with big gusts in every direction, particularly round the turning buoy off Horse Isles Bay.

With the wind dropping everywhere and rain setting in, the fleet reached the finish just as conditions deteriorated further. However, the Regatta Race had been sailed and after the finish, competitors gathered outside the still closed Clubhouse, socially distanced, not for a prize-giving but for the announcement of the results and display of the Trophies in the company of Mrs Brenda Moffat of event sponsor, Catharinefield Windows Ltd.

Finally rounding off the day, Club Commodore Robert Dinwiddie invited Mrs Moffat to hold a large cheque totalling £1600 for all to see. Gareth Jones, Operations Manager of Kippford RNLI, thanking Catharinefield Windows and the SYC and commenting on the success of the event, highlighted the hard work of the RNLI during the pandemic nationally, particularly the crews on the South Coast of England providing frequent rescues of migrant boats in the Channel.

Catharinefield Windows Kippford RNLI Race: (top three results, provisional counting as Race 1 in Club Championship)

Cruising Yachts:

1st & Solway Cup; "Kintra" helmed by Stewart Monaghan, crewed by owner John Searle and Richard Winters
2nd "Osprey II" helmed by Paul Gray, crew Gavin Phillips
No other finishers

Racing Dinghies:

Fast Handicap Class
1st & Loch Cup; Scott Train and Anne Stewart (Flying Fifteen)
2nd Stewart Mitchell (Finn)
3rd Mark Crowther (Finn)

Medium Handicap
1st & Kippford Regatta Committee's Cup; Douglas Hay (Solo)
2nd Simon Wilson (Laser Radial)
3rd Ian and Margaret Purkis (Firefly)

Slow Handicap
1st & Glenisle Cup; Hamish and Sally Mackay (Mirror)
2nd Tamsin Wallace and Mollie Keiley (RS Feva)
3rd Lilli Bell (Topper)

Solway Yacht Club Championship Races

After the cancellation of every round of the 2020 Club Championship so far, next day it was everyone back for the two more races which, combined with the results of the Regatta Race, would determine the Solway Yacht Club Championship 2020. Despite the forecast, this time of next to no wind, the sun came out and a gentle sea breeze set in. With more boats and particularly some younger family crews, the first race got under way with much promise. Again, the Gaughan / Metcalfe Osprey was at the front with the light winds not suiting the big F18 McColm catamaran. The two Finns of Mitchell & Crowther were up in the leading group of faster rated boats, along with the Flying Fifteen of the Train/Stewart crew. After assisting ashore during the Regatta, John Broadbent and his wife Val as crew had joined the fray and, after a poor start, were rapidly making up places. At the finish, "Line Honours" went to the Osprey with several more in close company but after handicap corrections it was the Train / Stewart Flying Fifteen that took the win with the Broadbent GP14 second.

With the breeze picking up and a change of course, race two followed a similar pattern but this time the Osprey hit trouble when their jib became loose costing them precious time to reattach it and recover. The second Flying Fifteen of another father / daughter crew, Gordon Daly and Jane Gascoigne, was having a much better race but it was the expert GP14 sailor, John Broadbent and his wife crew Val who despite being a slower rated boat were well up with the leaders and heading for a well-deserved win.

After the finish and as all the boats returned to the slipway, the consensus was that it had been a highly successful weekend. It is hoped there might yet be a few more days of racing before the season ends but the Club's winter social and Prize-giving party in January will now at least have some prizes to present, if of course, the Covid-19 risk situation permits.

Club Championship Races: (top three after handicap corrections)

Club Championship Race 2
1st Scott Train / Anne Stewart (Flying Fifteen)
2nd John & Val Broadbent (GP14)
3rd Stewart Mitchell (Finn)

Club Championship Race 3
1st John & Val Broadbent (GP14)
2nd Douglas Hay (Solo)
3rd Scott Train / Anne Stewart (Flying Fifteen)

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