The first races of the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series kicked off yesterday in fresh winds that kept competitors on their toes throughout the night

Scotland may have had its first taste of summer this year and there have been many colder and wetter offshore races in the 27-year history of the regatta, but there was reminder that winter was not too far in the past for the 100 plus crews who contested last night’s offshore race which kicked off this year’s edition of The Bell Lawrie Scottish Series, the north of Britain’s biggest annual sailing regatta.

With a squally south-westerly breeze which peaked at 32 knots twice, not long after the Gourock start and during the hours of darkness when the Class 1 and 2 boats were just round the DZ Mark off the Heads of Ayr, at least it proved a quick passage and by mid morning today the majority of the fleet were tied up safely in the sunshine of the Kintyre peninsula’s picturesque haven.

Their start was one to forget, but Richard Loftus powerful Swan 65, this biggest craft at the regatta, was first to break the finish line at Tarbert. Going on to win on handicap by nearly five minutes Loftus will be keen to keep up this early impetus on the short windward leeward and Olympic-type courses on Loch Fyne, for with a long beat to DZ Buoy, a fetch, which quickly punished any speculative spinnakers back to Hunterston channel mark near the entrance to Largs channel this was a course designed for Desperado.

So too it was ideal for Geoffrey Howison’s new Moody 54, Local Hero – a more sedate successor to his race boats of the same name, many of which have won their class here before. This cutter-rigged cruiser comes complete with a windscreen and, of course windscreen wipers and so their Class 5 win was comfortable in both senses of the word.

So too the start at Gourock made by Hamish Mackay and his team on the Elan 333 Elanor is not one they were keen to discuss the finer points of. The current holders of the Scottish Series Trophy recovered quickly and narrowly held off the X332 Tundra (Donald Sharp) by a matter of seconds after 67 miles of racing, to win IRC Class 3. “It’s not the start that counts but the finish.” Was Elanor’s Dave Kelly’s tired cliché. ” It’s going to be a tough class to win and while we have always done reasonably well on the offshore, we have never won it so that’s a good start.”

Claiming redress was the crack team on the Jeanneau Sun Fast 37 2 Sassy which stood by when the Titan 35 Animula lost her mast and still finished third.

In IRC Class 2 it was the northern dinghy sailors on the Beneteau 36.7 lead by Nigel Biggs on Crewsaver Dickies which triumphed, winning by six minutes and 10 seconds from Hamish Oliphant’s Highland Spirit (ex-Converting Machine), the Corby 35.

The race from Bangor was no less exciting, spurred on the heels of 20 knot southerly peppered with squalls to 37 knots, and it was Colm Barrington’s Dublin based Corby 38 Gloves Off which drew first blood in this year’s duelling with their rival Dubois-designed Dublin boat Azure.

Meanwhile the Sigma 33 and Sonatas had a great 26-mile day race to Tarbert today. With brisk winds, there were no parking lots. Kevin Aitken’s The White Tub lead from the first turning mark, while past Scottish Series winners and current UK national Sigma 33 champions, Alan Milton’s Pepsi took third.


Day 1. Offshore/Inshore Races to Tarbert

Gourock to Tarbert: IRC Class 1

1 Desperado (R Loftus) 10 hrs 45 mins 41 secs

2 Bateleur 97 (C Bonar) 11:30:41

3 Ovington Boats Like (D Ovington) 11:55:23

IRC Class 2

1 Crewsaver Dickies (N Biggs) 11:10:36

2 Highland Spirit (H Oliphant) 11:16 46

3 Thomas O’Malley (N Spurr) 11:28:35

IRC Class 3

1 Elanor (A Mitchell) 11:17:27

2 Tundra (D Sharp) 11:17:55

3 2 Sassy (Murray/Houston) 11:19:29

IRC Class 4

1 Significant (Wilson/Lyall) 11:24:57

2 Valhalla of Ashton (F Dunnet) 11:35:48

3 Cara of Kip (G Goudie) 11:38:40

CYCA Class 5

1 Local Hero (G Howison) 09:04:35

2 Scanne (G Aikman) 09:10:32

3 Guilty (D Clow) 09:14:43

CYCA Class 6

1 Hot’n’Tot (P MacKenzie) 09:11:02

2 Vaila (P Watt) 09:11:31

3 Scoundrel (G Galbraith) 09:21:43

Bangor to Tarbert: IRC Class 1

1 Gloves Off (C Barrington) 12:06:49

2 Azure (B & B Stewart) 12:13:11

3 Closing Time (Riley/Yates) 12:18:08

IRC Class 2

1 Jacana (B Douglas) 12:42:07

2 Megalopolis (H McMullan) 13:01:21

3 Amethyst (T & D Andrews)

IRC Class 3

1 Megwat (P Watson) 12:32:55

2 Avocet (J Thomson) 12:35:55

3 Roxanne (B Price) 12:55:27

IRC Class 4

1 Rapparee II (Hyde/Boulter/Woods) 12:50:39

2 Bambie (G Doig) 13:00:15

3 Toughnut (D Skehan) 13:03:11

Sigma 33 Class

1 Sea-Pie of Cultra (J Colman) 13:57:10

2 Sirius (P Heaton) 15:09:43


Inverkip to Tarbert: Sigma 33 Class

1 The White Tub (D Aitken) 05:45:06

2 Sigmatic (D McLaren) 05:47:55

3 Pepsi (A Milton) 05:49:38

Sonata Class

1 Jammie Dodger (H Gairns) 06:07:18

2 Tragedy (M Caldwell) 06:12:22

3 Scruples (C Tait) 06:17:06

CYCA Class 7

1 Mellow Moment (A Rodger) 03:53:37

2 Obsession (E & N Sim) 03:58:53

3 Sula (Davidson/Hubbard) 04:10:07