Entries are pouring in for the Bell Lawrie Scottish Series including Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates

Entries are flooding in for this year’s Bell Lawrie Scottish Series, Scotland’s biggest racing event, held in Tarbert over the weekend of 27-30 May. Traditionally boats travel from all over Scotland, Ireland and the south coast of England to take part, but organisers have received entries from further afield this year.

Exiled Scot, David Cullen and his wife live in Hong Kong, but have fond memories of sailing on the west coast of Scotland and last took part in the Scottish Series aboard a Sadler 32 15 years ago. Back then they promised themselves they would come back and race with a competitive boat in the top racing class.

And here they are in 2005, along with a group of Hong Kong sailors, going by the name of Team Struan, they are chartering a Marten 49, a hew hi-tech cruiser/racer with a lifting keel designed by Reichel & Pugh and built by Marten in New Zealand.

And it’s not only their boat that is highly tuned and competitive. Cullen has assembled a top racing crew, with Jamie Boag, Irish international sailor as tactician. Between the rest of the crew are Admiral’s Cup and Commodore’s Cup sailors, many with experience of many of the top international racing events – such as Sydney Hobart, China Coast Club, Block Island Week.

Asked what has attracted them to sailing in the Scottish Series, David Cullen commented: “Really it’s like coming back home. My wife learned to sail on the Clyde and we had our first experiences of cruiser racing on the Clyde. We also have very fond memories of Tarbert.”

Another overseas-based crew making their way to Tarbert this May are a group of airline pilots based in Dubai. Jo Gillespie and his crew are members of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and each year choose an overseas event in which to compete. Previously they have raced at race series in Cape Town, Whitsunday Islands, Australia, British Virgin Islands and Cowes, but this will be their first experience of racing in Scotland.

Loch Fyne may not provide the warm winds and waters they’re used to in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates, but top class competitive racing on the water, and the lure of Scottish seafood and good ‘craic’ ashore are enticing these foreign based sailors to take part in this year’s Bell Lawrie Scottish Series.

This year’s Series looks to be one of the most competitive ever. Last year’s Class 1 winner, Keith Miller will be back to defend his trophy aboard his Swan 45, ‘Crackerjack’. And this year the Swan 45 class has their own start line, with at least six Swan 45s confirmed as competing in the event this year.

The Swan’s confirmed as racing in The Scottish Series are: ‘Crackerjack’, ‘WISC’, ‘Murka’, ‘Fever’, ‘Piper’ and ‘Hawk’. The Bell Lawrie Scottish Series has for the first time been included as one of the regattas to count for their Area Championships and the Swans, who are normally based on the River Hamble on the south coast of England, are eagerly anticipating racing in the open waters of Loch Fyne.

Experienced campaigner Anthony O’Leary from Cork, overall winner of the 2004 Scottish Series Trophy with IRC class 2 boat “Antix” is planning to compete for the trophy again in 2005.

Amongst the other classes expected to attract big numbers are the 1720 Sportsboats Colin MacDonald of the Scottish 1720 Class Association predicts that over 20 1720s will be on the start line in Tarbert, including former Flying 15 world champion and previous Scottish Series overall winner, Steve Goacher, of Goacher Sails in Windermere, who has bought a 1720 and intends to campaign it throughout 2005.