Scottish Series kick off
This year's event starts with the traditional overnight offshore race from the twin start lines at Gourock on the Clyde and at Bangor on Belfast Lough at 1900hrs on Thursday evening, bound for four days of intense racing on Loch Fyne.
As a new departure, for the first time the massive armada has been split in response to research conducted after last year's event, so that two of the one design classes - the Sonata and Sigma 33s and the restricted sail classes - will have a day race to Tarbert starting on Friday morning at 0930hrs, and so will not take part in the overnight race. This has been offered to promote closer, more even races for the one design classes and to broaden the appeal to the restricted sail classes.
By introducing measures which will allow the offshore race courses to be shortened if the winds are not strong enough, the organisers, the Clyde Cruising Club who have run the regatta for well over 25 years, have this year vowed to ensure that all the boats are in Tarbert by mid afternoon Friday, allowing the 2500 competitors a chance to relax, get organised and enjoy the hospitality before starting in earnest with the programme of windward leeward and Olympic style courses which starts on Saturday morning.
As well as the strong local Clyde entry, a larger number of boats than ever are expected from Northern Ireland, from Dublin Bay and from Cork, as well as the North of England, and the South Coast of England.
Class 1 is likely to see a resumption of a duel for the overall honours between the Dublin boats Azure (Bob Stewart), the Dubois 40 footer which was just launched at this regatta last year, and the very successful Corby designed 37 footer Gloves Off (Colm Barrington).
Biggest growth in the IRC classes is in the size band 33-35 feet and Class 3 looks set to be one of the closest fought. Last year's overall winner of the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series Trophy, which is presented to the crew who are deemed to have put on the most impressive performance over the whole regatta, is Hamish Mackay (South Queensferry) and he helms an Elan 333 Eleanor in this division which also has past winner John Highcock as tactician on a similar Elan 333 Salamander XVI, and also the current Clyde Master Helm Donald Sharp on his X332 Tundra.
Racing runs through until Tuesday afternoon when the winner of this year's Bell Lawrie Scottish Series Trophy will be announced.
This is the third year that leading Scottish stockbrokers Bell Lawrie White have sponsored the event.
See page 2 for the complete entry list