2017 Scottish Dart 18 Championships & GP6 hosted by Royal Tay Yacht Club
After experiencing Royal Tay Yacht Clubs hospitality last year GP6 was a date not to be missed when the 2017 events were announced.
Myself, Yvette and Imani set off Wednesday afternoon in the motorhome with a couple of Darts hooked on behind, the plan was to travel as far as we can before stopping somewhere for a sleepover, but as the traffic eased my right foot sensed last orders at the clubhouse were within reach and a six-hour journey completed effortlessly.
We had a couple of reasons for heading up early, one was to take part in Windsports training day on Friday with Brian Phipps and the other was to watch the locals have a fiddle. It is a tradition every Thursday night local musicians, mainly fiddlers come together and play in the Fisherman’s Tavern, with the music in the background, the cosy atmosphere and not to forget the huge selection of beers and whiskeys it’s a night not to be missed (probably not the best thing to do before training with the Guru the next day)
RTYC offers a couple of options for parking and camping, the main club house is situated on the hillside with a good-sized car park with electric, water and amazing views over Torbay, for convenience the car park was also closed off for visitors only, there is also another car park located down by the boat compound and sailing clubhouse. Out of hours you still have use the Clubhouse facilities.
Training day – weather was nice and warm with a light to moderate breeze, 4 boats taking part, Mick Singleton & Simon Carr from Runswick Bay another being myself & Imani, Kenny Watson sailing with Sara Stones and Duncan from RTYC. After a briefing in the classroom we hit the water for some boat handling exercises which comprised of holding your boat on a start line for as long as possible and a few starts sequences during which we secretly told to push another boat out whilst they were told to do something completely different. We returned to shore for a quick bite and catch up in the class room, and then headed back to the water. The afternoon session consisted of follow my leader which involved accelerating and braking and then later a lot of tacking on the whistle. I have completed a few training courses with both young and old Phipps and would highly recommend them to anyone at any level. Whilst taking part in the exercises it comes to apparent how many bad habits you pick up on the way, and how little refinements can make such a big difference. Friday night all travellers and those taking part in the training were treated to Domino’s Pizza by Kenny Watson, the rest of the night was spent sampling what the RTYC bar had to offer and it didn’t disappoint.
Day 1 – as we find at most events nowadays it’s pointless looking at the forecast beforehand as you won’t know what the weathers doing until the day, for Tay it was looking bright and light with strong currents. Registration was £40 and for that you got a buffet meal in the evening, amazing goodies bag full of soft drinks, beers, biscuits, caps and teacakes. 1st start was at 12 and the course a ‘starboard rounding’ the start whistle went and so did the wind, the major battle was just getting to the windward mark on the other side of the estuary, initially the plan was to sail straight across the tide, hug the shallows and round the mark, back down to the gate, this only seemed to work for one local, Bill Carson and Drew Young who seemed to be on the right of the wind when it finally came back in, for the rest of us it was what we seem to be getting more and more used to these days a complete lottery. One minute you were at the back, next you were rounding the windward mark in the top 3, Bill held on to finish the race in 1st place with a tight pack closely on his heels. As planned we came in for lunch after the first race whilst the race committee re-laid the course taking into consideration the sea breeze.
The course for the second race had been laid close to shore which meant a lot of short tacks to keep in the wind and out of the tide, a few yards too far each way would cost you dearly as most of us found. The leading pack broke away lead by Brian Phipps and closely followed by Mat & Yvette, Mike & Imani and Ben & Ellis, 1st to 4th place must have changed about 10 times before reaching the windward mark and this pattern continued throughout the 3-lap race with Gommie using his extra sail to power over the top of Phippsy to take line honours, Exon 3rd and Willis 4th. Unfortunately, due to the wind dropping race 3 was started but abandoned shortly after which suited most as we had to get ready for the main event.
RTYC had laid on traditional Ceilidh dancing which must be one of the other main reasons for visiting the club, there is about 4 musicians (can’t remember exactly what instruments were being played at this stage) and a teacher in the middle of the floor, pretty much everyone got up throughout the evening to join in the dancing and it’s got to be said the locals might just have had the edge on the travellers, I’m just glad we don’t sail how we follow dance instructions!!! The dancing was broken up by a well needed hot buffet before heading back to the dance floor or pretending to be in a serious conversation with someone. Absolutely brilliant social night that involved every age group taking part at the same time.
Day 2 – forecast again was light medium winds with two races set for the morning and a further two after lunch. With an ebbing tide, we were started a port hand course close to the shore with the windward mark in the middle of the estuary. Applying logic to the best way to go seemed to go out the window for this race yet again the fleet was split with some boats coming back in shore and others staying out against the tide for the wind. The first lap saw a lot of place changes but coming out on top was Darren & TA leading the fleet after to second rounding, by this stage of the race it was pretty obvious which way to go with the leaders rounding the windward mark and heading in shore to get out of the tide, unfortunately for the leaders the wind was building in the middle of the estuary making it more attractive to sail downwind into the tide before gybing across to the gate and finish, Phippsy was first to take advantage of the new wind and as the wind reached some more of us that were half way across we too gybed into the tide to come into the finish challenging the leading pack. Darren & TA held onto well-deserved win followed by a celebratory scream by TA that was heard by all on the East Coast of Scotland.
The wind had settled down for race 4 so it came down to picking the right way to go to keep out of the tide and pure boat speed, we managed to get ourselves into the top pack and again enjoyed some close racing with our fellow club member Mat Exon and my wife Yvette Gomme (no pressure), coming up to finish the second lap I noticed the finish flag flying on the committee boat and for some reason thought the race was being finished on 2 laps, however this was not the case and by the time I found this out Willis and Exon who had also followed me tacked off to start their third lap. Ben Willis crewed for by Ellis Stonehouse kept his lead to finish in front of Exon and myself.
After lunch, we headed out to a similar course to the previous afternoon with a building sea breeze. Once clear off the start line the tactics were short tacks all the way up the beat, not going in too far to lose the wind and not going out too far to hit the tide and to make sure you are not tacking into starboard’s with a close packed fleet. The leading pack that consisted of teams Gommie, Exon, Kohler and Willis broke away and traded places throughout most of the race before team Exon pulled away to their first win of the event.
Race 6 was pretty much a repeat of race 5 yet this time we managed to make it to the windward mark before Mat & Yvette, who unfortunately caught it on the way round resulting in a penalty turn giving us the space needed to pull out a comfortable lead, and with the race shortened to 2 laps we held on to finish in 1st and take overall victory for the championship.
It was great to see Brian & Cookie that had traveled all the way up from Cornwall and Tom & Lucy from Southampton, Darren & TA from Canvey Island and I think they will agree that it was worth every mile traveled.
Well done to RTYC for amazing prizes and for putting on such a memorable event which I will definitely return to, a massive thanks to Kenny
Watson whom we know has put a lot of time and energy into organising the event as well travelling to most of the UKIDA events nationwide for the past couple of years. RTYC you have an amazing bunch of members, great facilities, and I look forward to attending your next Dart 18 open meeting. Big thanks also goes out to Windsport for supporting the fleet 600 miles away from home.
For the Gommies this is our last event of the season, and I would like to say that since joining the Dart 18 family I have been lucky to sail with some great crews and most recently being my daughter whom I am very proud, to me this is the essence of the Dart 18 and the reason why it is still the most successful all-round class to be part of.
Results below and more photos from the event can be found on Jasna Wardle’s Facebook page.
Write up by Mike Gomme GBR 7990