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24 May 2005, 12:25 pm
Series Sets Sail This Weekend
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Bell Lawrie Scottish Series 2005
Loch Fyne, Scotland, Great Britain

Final preparations are being made for this year's Bell Lawrie Scottish Series, Scotland's premier yacht racing event, which takes place this weekend. The Series is the biggest annual yachting regatta in Britain after Cowes Week and is held in Tarbert, Loch Fyne from 27-30 May. Entries are well up on last year with 190 yachts due to be on the start line, with more entries expected between now and Friday.
Double Olympic gold medallist Shirley ROBERTSON (GBR) is racing at the Series for the first time ever. The Team Volvo for Life sailor is skippering a Farr 45 'Volvo RYA Keelboat Sailing' in Class 1. The other crew members will be Team Volvo for life and Vendée Globe sailor Alex THOMSON (GBR) and members of the Volvo RYA Keelboat squad sailors. ROBERTSON will be racing head to head against her husband Jamie BOAG (IRL), who is navigator aboard Struan another Farr 45 chartered for the event by David CULLEN, a Scot now based in Hong Kong who has come back to Scotland with his wife and friends to race in this prestigious event.

The new format for this year's regatta sees four straight days' racing on Loch Fyne with two races per day for the bigger boats. There is a 'stand alone' Tarbert Outbound race on Tuesday 31 May, with finishes in both Bangor and Inverkip.

Competition is expected to be fierce in all classes, with last year's overall series champion, Antony O'LEARY from Cork, Ireland returning to defend his trophy against rivals from as far afield as Hong Kong, Dubai, Ireland and the south coast of Great Britain.

Record crowds are expected in Tarbert during the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series. It is estimated that 2,000 people are involved in the racing - 1,700 crews and 300 volunteer helpers. There will be up to 200 yachts racing, with 15 committee boats setting courses and recording start and finish times and 25 boats anchored in the harbour providing accommodation for crews. Ashore, 250 rooms in Tarbert hotels and guesthouses are fully booked from one year to the next by regular Scottish Series participants. Bars and restaurants look set to be very busy over the holiday weekend, with an estimated 25,000 pints of beer being drunk and 5,000 oysters consumed by thirsty and hungry crews, once they come ashore after a hard day's racing.

There are many high profile businessmen racing in the event, including property tycoon, Keith MILLER, chief executive of The Miller Group, Boyd TUNNOCK of Tunnock's Tea Cakes and Caramel Wafers fame and Iain GRAHAM of Graham Technology. There are also several up and coming young Scottish sailors taking part including Scott AIKMAN, Scott GRAY, Mark PLUMMER, Angus STEVENSON and Ruaridh SCOTT, who are all members of the Volvo Keelboat Squad of sailors.

Sue McKichan
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