by Euan Aitken
Buzzing along to Tarbert
So with no Overnight these days we motored “Wicked Wookie” out of Rhu at 11am for the 7 hours of that noise you cannot replicate anywhere in the world, the Sonata motor buzz…30 years old my boat and I bet every owner has tried to cure that damned noise and failed. I think perhaps David Thomas has a strange sense of humour and it’s designed into the hull. Arriving at Tarbert it was nice to see the harbour master was trying to keep us all in one spot despite the RS elite’s best efforts to take up the entire pontoon. A quick tidy up and we were ready for the pub. The walk round this year was much improved by the huge amount of work that has been done within Tarbert harbour. Gone is the ugly shed and eyesore waste ground, replaced with what should by next year be a large lawn, apparently it was seeded the previous week which is why it was unavailable for parking vehicles which I think would have been a better use of it. Also they have installed a very handy waterside pathway linking the two sides of the harbour. This I have to say made the walk / crawl back to boat at the end of the night much safer. The rest of Tarbert looked very similar to last year and I was disappointed to see no tent for the shoreside entertainment once again. I find the Tarbert town hall lacks the atmosphere of the old fish quay marquee but maybe that is just me. A pleasant night catching up with old friends followed and then off to bed for tomorrow we go race!!
The morning ritual was set – wake up and empty the bags to the car and send the thieving student crew out to return the stolen glasses, ashtrays, flags, banners, livestock, and occasionally crew that don’t belong on this boat. Followed by the bleary-eyed waves and grunted good-mornings from cockpit to cockpit. Until finally we set out to the race area.
Once we got down to the racing it became apparent we had three boats that stood out from the rest, the most consistent by far being Blue Tack with an impressive uninterrupted run of firsts and seconds which in the conditions was a great achievement, The Boatmans didn’t get everything their own way though and were pushed hard all the way by Neil McClure on So and the Rosie/Manderson combo on Jazz. These three made up the bulk of the podium places with Saraband, Serenade and ourselves on Wicked Wookie managing to break into that elusive top three club at times. My top three rather embarrassingly went to my head so much that I got drunk and forgot to collect my prize…once again living up to my new tag of “Very Wicked Wookie”
Racing mid fleet was close, with boats swapping places constantly and very little to pick and choose between them. Certainly as a new boat owner the amount I learned from the close racing was invaluable and simply could not be learned any other way. The last two days of the event the wind blew down the loch which tends to be less flukey but as is often the case when it does happen it becomes a race to get to the nearest shore and take advantage of the gains to be found there. This meant raw boat speed was a premium and is reflected in the results I think.
All in all, this year’s Scottish Series was always going to be special for me as it was my first as helm/owner/skipper so I am possibly biased when I say I haven’t enjoyed an event as much in a long time. Our race committee made the most of every breath of wind we had, it stayed predominantly dry and warm and we had some great racing. I give my hearty congratulations to the well-deserved top three boats and I’m looking forward to even more boats, and more competition, in the forthcoming nationals at Helensburgh. See you all in the pub