As the full armada of more than 200 boats assembled for the first day of inshore racing on Loch Fyne at The Bell Lawrie Scottish Series they were to be treated to a typically testing day of light to moderate north westerly breezes.
It was Roy Dickson's Howth based Corby 40 Cracklin' Rosie which stole the show in Class 1 with a first and a second place to lead the big boat class.
With regular big shifts in wind direction the evergreen eight year old Corby design was not only kept in tune with the changes by the talented afterguard of UK McWilliam Sailmakers' Des McWilliam and helm John Brinkers with tactician Jamie Boag, but they proved well able to keep the slightly older generation boat on the pace with some of her newer and quicker rivals.
" One of the great things about Cracklin Rosie is that the owner has not been scared to make his own modifications almost every year and he has nearly always been right and kept the boat competitive, but we sailed a good couple of races today." Said McWilliam, deputising for the owner who is not at the regatta.
Indeed Cracklin Rosie initially started life when Dickson took the rig and hardware from his two tonner and built a new Corby hull. Since then his annual winter modification have included new keels, carbon fibre rig, and rudders, re-ballasting and the addition of a bowsprit and asymmetric spinnakers. With the wind shifts skewing the reaches on the traditional Olympic style courses 'Rosie's asymmetric kites came into their own, but they also stayed out of trouble. Their win and second place complement a third place in their offshore race from Bangor to give a one point lead.
An incident at the first mark of the first race between the fierce Dublin Bay rivals, Gloves Off, Colm Barrington's Corby 38 and Azure, Bob and Bairbre Stewart's Dubois 40, where Gloves impeded Azure at the turn cost both time, with Gloves having to drop her spinnaker and take a penalty turn.
The step up into Class 1 for the double winners of the Scottish Series Trophy Hamish MacKay and his crew on the Race 1/Ker 11.3 Blue Belle finds them, so far, meeting their match perhaps not only with the fiercer competition but the handicapper's computer.
They sailed consistently well and lead the first race from the second turning buoy but could not hold their time on handicap and dropped to third and followed up with a fourth in the second race to lie third overall. Gloves Off won the second race and lie second overall. In Class 2 past Scottish Series Winner John Highcock, principal of Saturn Sails, steered Duncan Grant's Brett Bakewell White designed Australian built Titan 36 Animula into the overall lead with a first and third. Their tally for the day was matched by another past Scottish Series double winner in the shape of Chris Bonar's BH36 Bateleur which lies second.
But with three wins from three starts, the only boat with a perfect record so far from three races, is Peter Watt's Borresen designed BB 10 32 footer Vaila which leads Class 4. Watt found his boat waterlogged and in a state of severe disrepair in Bermuda. He rebuilt it over the course of a year and last year won his class. This year, with past Clyde Master Helm Duncan Munro steering, Vaila has established themselves as an early favourite for the main Trophy. " We are not even thinking about that. We are here to enjoy ourselves and do our best in the racing. It's just nice to be away from work." Remareked helm Munro, a Gourock schoolteacher and well known Scottish artist.
In the Sigma 33 Class the UK National Champions Pepsi, owned by Alan Milton and steered by Jon Fitzgerald, have already made their mark, topping the leaderboard with back to back wins today. Local Tarbert favourites Ruaridh and Graham Scott lead the 1720 Class with a fourth and first place today in the 21 boat class.