Under starters orders

Andy Robertson look ahead at the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series, starting tomorrow

Wednesday May 26th 2004, Author: Andi Robertson, Location: United Kingdom
With over 170 entries racing in 13 classes over three different course areas on Loch Fyne, The Bell Lawrie Scottish Series, answers the starters' guns tomorrow evening at the traditional twin start lines at Bangor in Northern Ireland, with the larger fleet mustering at Gourock on the Clyde estuary for the overnight race to Tarbert.

As the biggest and most significant annual regatta after Cowes, The Bell Lawrie Scottish Series, has again drawn a very strong contingent from Ireland, the North of England and some from further afield for what is well established as one of the strongest IRC regattas around. While there is a slight drop in entries this year due largely to the 1720 Cork One designs choosing not to attend in the same strength as previous years - attributed to the fact their European Championships take place in Largs in September and hence many owners choosing to make only one visit to Scotland in the season - equally the core IRC fleet is very strong, both in terms of strength of numbers and quality.

IRC Class 1 sees 10 entries including two new boats this season - a new X-413 for Iain Graham, who owns the course area sponsor Graham Technology - and a new Grand Soleil 45 for former Sigma 33 European champions Bobby Napier and Allan Hogg. Among the leading contenders in this class will be last year's class winner Cracklin' Rosie, the Corby 40, which will be steered by sailmaker Joe English, former Swan European champion Keith Miller in the Swan 45 Crackerjack which has sailmaker Kevin Sproul as tactician, and Playing FTSE, a Beneteau 47.7 owned and skippered by Jonathan Anderson who is the only skipper to have won the Scottish Series Trophy - the overall top prize - three times.

But it is IRC Class 2 which looks the strongest with 25 boats, prompting some to question the split between the classes, but the reality is that Class 2 has an excellent mix of fairly similar boats in the 35-41 foot size range. Among the favourites in this class is veteran John Corson's Bavaria Match 38 Salamander XVIII, which will have former Scottish Series Trophy winner Hamish Mackay on board as tactician. Against some strong opposition Corson and Mackay recently won the Kip Regatta outright which is the traditional warm up event pre-Scottish Series.

Chris Bonar and his crew on Bateleur, the BH36, have won the Trophy twice and won Class 2 last year and are likely to be in the frame again this year, while former X-332 National Champions and Clyde Master Helm Donald Sharp will race in this class with his new Reichel Pugh-designed Seaquest 36.

Racing follows the well established format, with Olympic and windward-leeward type contests starting Saturday, after the offshore races which feed the fleet up to the scenic Kintyre village harbour, and finishes Tuesday when the new winner of The Bell Lawrie Scottish Series Trophy will be announced.

This is the fifth year of support from Bell Lawrie White, the investment management specialists and stockbrokers, who are supported by course sponsors Graham Technology, Talisker, and Tunnocks

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