72nd West Highland Yachting Week Sails Into the Books

Report from Alison Chadwick McNab

Light wind conditions for this year’s 72nd West Highland Yachting made for testing conditions for both sailing and running the regatta by the Joint Regatta Committee (JRC) race team.

However racing was achieved on all days but one. The Craobh to Oban passage race saw flat calm conditions for the fleet. A wait at Ardluing and at Insh Island for the wind to fill in proved fruitless so the day’s racing was abandoned. And on the days the race format normally splits the spinnaker and non-spinnaker fleets, Principal Race Officer (PRO) of the event Johnny Readman opted to amalgamate the Tunnock’s  and Argyll yachts to race as one. With light and variable conditions it was deemed too difficult to set an Olympic style race for the spinnaker fleet.

Torridon wins overall

A return to WHYW for Angus Scott, friends and family from the Clyde was to prove fortuitous. Sailing the family Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 32i Torridon in Class 9, they took a sweep of five firsts and a second in the last race to be awarded not only the class point series but the prestigious Peter Cocks Memorial Trophy for the best overall performance in the fleet.

Lifting the top prize for the week Angus said: ‘This is an emotional return for me to WHYW since the event was our family holiday when I was young. Apart from 2002, my previous West Highland Weeks were with my parents in the 60’s and 70’s which I have very fond memories of.

‘We are returning as a family and the event is just as it was then- as good as ever. We were not sure how competitive Torridon would be, but a taster in the Round Bute race suggested that she would be ok, so West Highland Week was the obvious regatta for us to do. To win the event is just fantastic since although our class was small, we were racing against some well sailed boats including two former class winners. My son and his friend as well as the adults have had an amazing time and there is no doubt we will return. It gives the youngsters a real boost to continue sailing into the future.’

The family has owned Torridon since she was launched in 2010.  Until last year she had been used for bare boat charter with the Scott’s sailing her one or two weeks a year. Angus, who is managing director of Euroyachts, said it was ironic that as a boat salesman he has had little chance to sail in recent years but this had made the return to WHYW and in particular the event win, more special.

Torridon’s crew was Angus Scott, Mary Scott, Angus Scott Jnr and his friend Alex and his dad Alan.

72 years of West Highland Yachting Week

The event, organised by the Joint Regatta Committee (JRC) comprising Oban Sailing Club and Royal Highland Yacht Club, celebrated its 72nd year in 2019. As ever, flexibility has been at the heart of the WHYW success story as is the format of a ‘moving regatta’ with passage races linking all three ports of call – Craobh, Oban and Tobermory. WHYW gives the opportunity for all the family to take part, racing either in the highly competitive spinnaker classes - The Tunnock’s Fleet, or the non-spinnaker classes, The Argyll Fleet.

With the choice of racing the full points series or just a day or two, the event appeals across the board - to those who just enjoy passage sailing , those who want to try racing for the first time or for the stalwarts that return ‘year in year out’ to compete.

Tunnock’s the main sponsor

The main sponsor of the event was Tunnock’s who have been involved for well over a decade and managing director Sir Boyd Tunnock regularly races his Moody Lemerac in the event. Additional sponsorship came from Argyll and Bute Council, Tobermory Harbour Association, Scottish Sea Farms, Nerabus Gin, Scottish Canals, Webcraft UK Ltd, Owen Sails, Dunstaffnage Marina and West Coast Motors.

Craobh Races start the regatta

With only light and variable zephyrs of breeze, WHYW race officer Johnny Readman took the decision not to set a separate Round the Buoys race for the Tunnock’s fleet. Both the Argyll fleet and the Tunnock’s fleet were combined to race around the island of Shuna off Craobh marina. All classes managed to find some breeze to head north about round Shuna with the faster boats  completing a longer course into Loch Melfort. The fleet had a slow beat to a mark off Toberonochy where the Tunnock’s fleet hoisted spinnakers to the southern tip of the island. An ever lightening breeze forced the committee to shorten the course finishing all yachts through the line they had started on.

Rod Stuart’s Elan 410 Eos won Class 1 with Scott and Nicola Chalmers and family on Sunrise taking the second place and the Reeves’ First 40.7 Luna of Clyde in third.

Giggle, the Elan 40 of Phil Davis from Royal Ulster Yacht Club, fresh from his Gigha feeder race win, took the first in Class 2 from Ian Donald’s Hanse 400 Tioram and Anne and Andrew Campbell’s X-34 Ajax.  Roddy Angus with the More Misjif team won Class 3 honours from Michael Petticrew’s beautiful Nicholson 43 Magdaleyne from Ireland. Local Oban yacht Shadowfax helmed by Steven Forteith was third.

In restricted sail Class 4 the mighty Mylne ketch Glenafton made light work of the conditions to win from Oban Sailing Club’s Tangle o’the Isles skippered by Neil Slinger with Stuart MacDonald’s Dehler 34, Fraoch, third.

It was an another excellent win for Murray MacDonald and team on the Hunter 707 Autism on the Water in Class 5 adding to the Oban to Craobh feeder race win from the previous day. The Colman’s Sigma 33 Sea Pie of Cultra, all the way from the Isle of Man, took a second and Craig Anderson’s Moody 336 Cool Bandit 2 third.

Class 8 was won by a good margin by the Fyfe’s family Popcorn from Lochaber with Ruairidh Campbell’s Oyster 26 Banshee second and Murray Caldwell’s Oystercatcher from Oban Sailing Club third. Torridon, the Scott family’s SO 32i, took the silverware in Class 9 with Stephen Owens’s Halcyon and David Lyon’s Voila second and third respectively.

Day 2 of the Points Series - the race from Craobh to Oban sponsored by Dunstaffnage Marina, had to be abandoned due to lack of wind. This was despite the PRO Johnny Readman’s best efforts to get a start moving the fleet from Craobh to Ard Luing and waiting for any breeze before heading north to Insh and before finally being forced to call it a day with no wind filling in to oblige.

Firth of Lorn Races

With light and variable airs once again besetting the regatta, the fleets were once again combined on a short inshore course for racing in the Firth of Lorn sponsored by Scottish Sea Farms. All boats managed a finish with those at the tail end of the fleet contending dying winds.

Eos again strode on to take the Class 1 win from Luna of Clyde and Blue Jay. The team on Grand Cru finished first in Class 2 from Giggle and Firestarter and in Class 3 local boat Shadowfax pulled out all the stops to take a strong win over More Misjif and Tigh Soluis III.

The Dehler 34 Fraoch won restricted sail class 4 from Ian Nicoloson’s St Bridget and the Sigma 33 Meka II.  It was another Sigma 33 win with Sea-Pie of Cultra taking Class 5 from Cool Bandit 2 and Mayrise.  Popcorn was to sweep to another strong win in Class 8 with Ruaridh Campbell’s Oyster 26 Banshee finishing second and the Westerly Konsort Caol Ila of Largs in third.  Torridon secured her second win of the week in Class 9 from Halcyon and Voila.

Oban to Tobermory passage race

The week saw a mix of wind conditions for the start of the popular passage race, sponsored by Owen Sails and for many the best race of the week.  The fleet headed steadily for Lismore Light with shifting wind conditions and a consequent raft of position changes. For all but a minority of yachts that became stranded in a wind hole after Lady Rock which took a considerable time to pull out of, the fleet enjoyed a stiff beat on the passage north to Tobermory.

Storming through in Class 1 Sunrise took the honours from Luna of Clyde and Eos. Ionara was the winner in Class 2 from Grand Cru and Ajax.  Shadowfax won Class 3 with Magdaleyne and More Misjif behind and Brian Young’s Glenafton revelled in the conditions to win restricted sail Class 4. White Pearl, the Elan 434, finished second and Jim Shield’s Sigma 33 Meka II was third.

Salamander XXII raced by Craig Corson and team took a convincing win in Class 5 over series sponsor Sir Boyd Tunnock in Lemerac with Craig Anderson’s Cool Bandit 2 third.

It was Contessa and Nicholson weather in Class 8 with Alistair Pugh’s 32 Marisca pipping the Nic 35 Jane Waterman to the post by just over a minute on corrected time. The other Contessa 32 of the Prentice boys from the North on Circe was third.

Sound of Mull races

Thursday’s racing in the Sound of Mull was delayed a couple of hours until the wind filled in. PRO Readman again opted to keep the fleets together although with a longer course for some classes. Two short races on windward leeward courses were managed with a light to moderate breeze finally filling in.

John Stanley Whyte’s J109 Blue Jay favoured the conditions in Class 1 winning from Eos and Sunrise with Giggle back in form in Class 2 taking the win in the first race from Ajax and Firestarter.  Roddy Angus stoked up the fire on More Misjif taking the Class 3 honours with Nick Marshall’s J92 Satisfaction second and Graham Anderson’s Hanse 371 Lucky Ned Pepper third.

In Class 4 the Sigma Meka II of Jim Shields won again from Joey Gough’s Tangle o’the Isles and Glenafton whilst in Class 5 the Sigma 33s Mayrise and Sea-Pie of Cultra took first and second with Craig Corson’s Salamander XXII third. Popcorn secured another win in Class 8 from the Wallace family’s Nicholson 35 Jane Waterman and Murray Caldwell and team in Oystercatcher took the third. In Class 9 it was another win for Angus Scott with Torridon from Stephen Owen’s Oceanis 361 Halcyon and the kenspeckle McGrer Lorne Class Malindi of Lorne with Seaonaid Reid and team.

Race 2

The second race on the same course for the slower boat class saw the Reeves’ First 40.7 Luna of Clyde the winner in Class 1 from Sunrise and Eos.

Jamie McGarry and Andrew Perratt’s First 40.7 Grand Cru took the silverware in Class 2 from Phil Davis’s Giggle and Firestarter. More Misjif won Class 3 from Shadowfax and Magdaleyne.

In restricted sail Class 4, Glenafton made it a first from Tangle o’the Isles and Fraoch.  Sea-Pie of Cultra edged ahead of Salamander XXII and Cool Bandit 2 and in Class 8 it was another win for Popcorn and Jane Waterman with Oystercatcher in third. Torridon took the Class 9 honours from Malindi of Lorne and Halcyon.

Tobermory to Oban Passage

It looked to be another inauspicious start for Friday’s passage race back from Tobermory sponsored by Thomas Tunnock Ltd. The fleet was taken from Tobermory to the Green Isle in the Sound of Mull where a light wind was filling in and a start was made for all classes. With a strong tide taking the fleet south it made for a fast passage to the shortened course finish off the Yule Rock buoy. In Class 1 Blue Jay pushed Eos into second with Sunrise in third place whilst  Class 2 saw Grand Cru to the fore from Wookie 2 and Giggle.  More Misjif took a strong victory over Satisfaction and Magdaleyne securing their class win. It was a Sigma win in Class 4 for Meka II with White Pearl taking second and Glenafton having to be content with third although over the week’s racing had enough placings to win the class overall. The Sigma 33s Sea-Pie of Cultra and Mayrise secured the top two positions in Class 5 with only two seconds separating them and this was enough to give Sea-Pie the class win. Salamander XXII was third. Popcorn again won Class 8 by over 4 minutes on corrected time to secure another class win with Jane Waterman second and Banshee third. Halcyon just eclipsed Torridon from a clean run of firsts in Class 9 for the week but Angus Scott and team were assured of the class win on points. Malindi of Lorne took  third.

Oban Prize giving

In a departure to the traditional prizegiving dance in Oban, the final prizegiving was outside Oban Sailing Club in brilliant sunshine and hailed as a great success. Race Officer Johnny Readman awarded the prizes and thanked Joint Regatta Committee chairman Beppo Buchanan Smith and the JRC team for all their efforts in running the week.

Special Trophies

The Angus Meldrum Trophy to the yacht with the best corrected time for the Oban to Tobermory Race was won by Sunrise. Blue Jay was awarded the British Waterways Trophy to the yacht with the best corrected time in the Tobermory to Oban Race.

The John G Maxwell Trophy to the yacht with the best overall score in Class 8 sailed by a member of Royal Highland Yacht Club went to Murray Caldwell on Oystercatcher.

The West Highland Week Family Trophy was awarded to the best family yacht regardless of class or result was awarded to the Orr family on their Westerly GK 34 Prodigal.

Angus Scott and crew on Torridon won the Peter Cocks Trophy for the best overall performance in the fleet.

Nerabus Gin reception

Running alongside the regatta racing, the social programme is an integral part of West Highland Yachting Week. A skipper’s briefing was held in the WHYW marquee at Craobh before the start of the regatta addressed by PRO Johnny Readman followed by the Nerabus Gin reception. Nerabus is made by The Islay Gin Company and takes its character from its surroundings.

Samples were available alongside the Food from Argyll food and drink event, a Hog Roast and BBQ with music from the Mid Argyll Pipe Band and dancing with the Democrats.

The first midweek prize giving was hosted by Dunstaffange Marina with ceilidh music followed by the ever popular ‘Big  Dave’s Beach Party in the marina boat shed where most competitors dressed to suit and the crew of Salamander pulled out all the stops to make it a success.Food from Dolce Vita of Oban, a late bar and excellent weather made it a highlight of the week.

The JRC re-introduced the Mull prizegiving in the courtyard at Tobermory Distillery and the final prizegiving was held outside Oban Sailing Club at Gallanach.

JRC chairman Beppo Buchanan-Smith summed up this year’s event: ‘When we look back and reflect we will no doubt forget these challenges the wind conditions gave the race team and huge credit must go down to all involved for not only getting the fleet racing but getting seven results over the week- when at one stage even getting one in looked difficult.’

He added: ‘I suspect the results represented well with the best sailed boats leading each class .I know having competed many times over the years how often the endeavours and hard work of those on the race team and behind the scenes are taken for granted. Now, having completed my two years as chair of the committee, I sincerely appreciate all the planning and hard work that is involved in making the week seamless for those competitors. Whilst it is appreciated by most, it is greatly appreciated by the Joint Regatta Committee and I know without all of the support it would not be possible to run WHYW. With this support, we look forward to next year’s event.’

Point Series overall

Class 1 1 Eos 2 Sunrise 3 Luna of Clyde

Class 2 1 Grand Cru 2 Giggle 3 Ajax

Class 3 1 More Misjif 2 Shadowfax 3 Magdaleyne

Class 4 1 Glenafton 2 Meka 11 3 Tangle o’the Isles

Class 5 1 Sea Pie of Cultra 2 Salamander XXII 3 Mayrise

Class 8 1 Popcorn 2 Jane Waterman 3 Banshee

Class 9 1 Torridon 2 Halcyon 3 Malindi of Lorne