Saturday 25 July in Westray was near perfect day for the local annual Regatta. There were no complaints from spectators apart from mild cases of sunburn and the need for regular topping up of a variety of different types of fluid. Some slightly stronger and more reliable wind would have been welcome for skippers and crews, particularly during the morning races but this improved for the afternoon. The up side was that this tested the artistry of sailing, there was no gear damage and no duckings!
The strong support of crews from outside Westray was again most welcomed with a full load of boats arriving on the Earl Siguard at Gill Pier from Kirkwall. In addition, the festive occasion of the day was enhanced by the presence of ten yachts moored in the pontoon, many of which participated in races. It was particularly good to see 21 Westray based boats taking part in the regatta, contributing greatly to the excellent turnout of over 40 boats registering.
Unfortunately, due to a prior training commitment, Kirkwall lifeboat was unable to be present on the day, but this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the local Lifeboat Guild who once again raised a substantial amount of funds to donate to their cause.
A major and novel highlight of the day was the visit of the Canadian youths from British Columbia with their native replica canoe, Spirit Dancer. This proved to be a major photo opportunity and the chance for locals young and old to sample a mode of transport unusual for this area.
A selection of bagpipe tunes were expertly played by the Craig family (Karen, Euan and Adam) and friend Tosh MacDonald visiting relatives locally, at Gill Pier on arrival of the Earl Siguard, at the prize giving and later at the evening dance.
With a total of over 40 boats registering to race this was above even last year’s number. A course briefing by Sam Harcus preceded the morning sailing session although as is often the case, some crews
later required gently reminders of the scheduled order of races. The NE wind was light and variable enough for a yole and lug sail to become almost becalmed in the outer leg into Papa Sound. Yachts also had some trouble in their longer course to Skelwick Skerries and Papa Westray, delaying the return of the last from the morning race until well into the afternoon.
Racing started shortly after 11am with three Lugs: Ann, Viking and Jim finishing in that order. The 17 Skiffs and Yoles made a spectacular sight in the second race with Alice finishing first, Karen second and Tit third.
Eight boats started in the “slow” race with Aegir, Fiddlesticks and Smyril occupying the first three places.
Six boats competed in the “fast” race with Ella finishing first, Ginger Nuts second and Ratlin Rose third. Katoosh led the three Catamarans home, with Banana Split second and Plum Crazy third.
Of the six yachts competing Shiant, Stravaiger and Nereides finished in that order in the first three places in the handicap race.
Many thanks are due to the ladies of Westray for the excellent spread laid out in Westray Processors for crews and Canadian visitors. Did the considerable extra ballast prove to be an advantage or disadvantage in the later races?
The break provided the usual good opportunity for crews to muse over mistakes made and to make plans for improvements in the afternoon. Although the wind had somewhat improved by the start of the afternoon racing, it still not could be considered to be much above a light breeze and courses for several classes were shortened in case time ran out.
The bay was a spectacular sight with the amassed sails of boats making final adjustments and deciding on racing tactics. Plum Crazy won the Catamaran Race with Banana Split second and Katoosh third while on corrected times Karen, Onward and Alice were first second and third respectively of the 14 Yoles and Skiffs competing in that race.
Fifteen boats competed in the Allcomers Race with Aegir finishing first, Smyril second and Fiddlesticks third on corrected times. Aegir was the first Snipe home and Ella the first Rocket.
For the Yoles in the Allcomers Race , Bonnie Lass took first place, Lizza II second and Olive third place respectively.
Four Yachts competed in their delayed afternoon race with first, second and third places going to Shiant, Stravaiger and Vanerne respectively.
At the end of the day, a large number of participants and spectators congregated on the green in front of the Pierowall Hotel for the prize giving, after entertainment by the pipers. Westray Commodore John Harcus thanked everyone for an excellent and competitive day and the Westray Sailing Club for another successful year.
Liz McVicar presented cups for the winners and prizes for 2nd and 3rd places in the Regatta in addition to Westray Sailing Club trophies as follows:
Pre Regatta Points Cup: G. Rendall (Alice),
OISC Cup: B. Kent (J&B),
OTC Cup: G. Rendall (Alice),
Malcolm Stout Cup: B.Kent (J&B) and
Miller Cup: B.Kent (J&B).
Spirit Dancer plus pipers attend the prize giving
The Spirit Dancer visitors with pipers on board crossed the bay to beach their canoe in front of the green, after seeking formal
permission to land, as was the custom of their indigenous ancestors in BC. It was amusing to see one of the Canadian girls vainly trying to get any sound from a set of bag pipes. Colourful first nations’ songs and dances delighted the audience, prior to the presentation to the community of Westray of a carved redwood canoe paddle as a memento of their visit.
Prior to the departure of the Earl Sigurd, the staff of the Pierowall Hotel provided an excellent buffet for competitors who enjoyed their food in the evening sunshine in front of the hotel. . The day was rounded off by a very successful dance, a large crowd dancing enthusiastically to the ever popular music of the Westray Band, aided by the local youth band and visiting pipers.
For more pictures of the 2009 Regatta go to Flickr
Regatta presentations pictures go to Flickr
Download a PDF of the Yacht racing course
Download a PDF of the dance poster