Light airs made for a difficult passage race.
The Irish brogue is the dominant accent in the pubs of the Kintyre village of Tarbert on Loch Fyne rather than the home Scots as the boats racing from Bangor on Belfast Lough completed their overnight passage race to Tarbert long before the first Clyde boats broke the finish line.
Not that the passage race from Northern Ireland was without its stops and starts, but it proved a brisk canter by comparison to the stop start tour of the Clyde glue pots which some of the 100 plus Gourock starters had to endure. At one point the main turning mark off Brodick Bay by the Isle of Arran had 70 boats milling around pointing aimlessly in different directions. Many spent six hours rounding this single mark and early evening tonight there are still most of the bigger class 1 and 2 boats which raced from Gourock still struggling to finish having been set an 80 mile course down to the Heads of Ayr. Irvine Bay on the Ayrshire Coast was one of their biggest sticking points.
By comparison, although they stopped at times and lost their lead to their main rivals, the Corby 38 Gloves Off and Corby 40 Cracklin Rosie, the offshore was a great debut for Bob Stewart's new Dublin based Ed Dubois designed 40 footer Azure.
Just launched last weekend, rigged on Sunday and tuned on Tuesday, Azure lead across the North Channel but soon marked a quiet spot on the Arran shore which Gloves and Cracklin sailed round going on to lead by two miles. After wriggling free Azure took their revenge when their two Dublin Bay compatriots became ensnared in another calm.
" it was tough at times but we worked hard. We kept peeling the spinnaker and kept going and that really made a big difference. We're delighted with the boat." Commented Mark Pettit who has project managed this, the first new IRC race boat design since Toy de Mulder's Victric which won regularly on Loch Fyne.
Of the Gourock starters it was Hamish Mackay who guided the new Elan 362 Silver Darling, which was also just launched this week, to cross the line first in IRC Class 3. They dropped to third on corrected time behind the new X332 Tundra of Donald Sharp who won outright the Kip Regatta warm up two weeks ago.