At 2.30 pm Commodore Donnie MacInnes, and club chairman Iain Macdonald, with strong westerly winds, exceeding 30knots, made a very brave call. The Tiree Regatta was on. The boats rowed out of Scarinish Harbour, to raise their sails and congregate @ the start line.
The Tiree Regatta is a unique regatta with its focus on traditional dipping lug skiffs. Tiree built skiffs have a history stretching back into to the 19th C, when its fleet numbered about 150 boats, and the island had 8 full time boat builders. The club boat, Passing Cloud, exemplifies this tradition being one of the few Tiree built boats still sailing. She is a graceful, 17ft elderly lady, built on Tiree in 1942.
The strong winds demanded further reefing of the sails, which under the conditions, and the sailing limitations inherent to dipping lugs, caused the fleet to disperse. For the many spectators on shore, chaos theory appeared to be taking over! The boats managed to work their way back to the start line, where, to the crack of the starter’s shotgun, the race began. Norroway, a Loch Fyne skiff got off to very fast start, but leading round the first mark, appeared to broach. She righted quickly, but, as she come up into the wind, something was wrong. Her mast foot had come loose, dislodging the mast, with the possibility that the mast could rip through the hull. Norroway was left with no option but to retire. The remaining boats sailed on, and to their immense credit all completed the course, with David Hepburn’s Eilean Thiriodh the winner, having to fight off a strong challenge from Angus Mackinnon’s Mary Anne.
Ashore, the spectators enjoyed a BBQ, watching Stramash’s series of Taz dinghy races in the harbour, in which all the crews were to prove winners! The Raft Race was strongly contested by visitors and locals, with the Kerr family team, on holiday from China, emerging as worthy winners. Stewart Cowling showed real style in winning the surfboard race.
Meanwhile back at sea the keel boat race was won narrowly by Karl Hughes’ Impromptu, a Contessa 32, beating off strong competition from the Stornoway based Lily, with her all-lady crew.
The regatta closed with the traditional Trawler Race. Race rules are pragmatic, as the local fishing boats race madly round the course, pelting fellow competitors, and any other boat on the water, with rotten fish, eggs and old wellie boots! The boats, dressed, in line, lead by the winner, Bluey returned into Scarinish harbour with her crew John Campbell, from the stern , piping-in the fleet – A grand sight.
Sailors and spectators gathered for the prize giving and, to the buzz of dissipating adrenalin, supped from the generously filled winner’s quaichs.
Tiree Regatta Club thank PD Knight, Tiree Services Ltd, and Tommy Barbour for their generous sponsorship.