The Glasgow Grouse, in association with Tunnock’s
Our Commodore, Emma, summed it all up pretty well in her closing speech. What had started as an exercise in pre-exam procrastination way back in May had all become very real, and it was almost a surprise when thirteen teams packed the CCC clubhouse at Bardowie Loch at registration for the first ever Glasgow Grouse.
Photos courtesy of Fangjie Guo and Aberdeen University Sailing club
After a summer of intense public relations, it was a great payoff to see that people had come from as far afield as London, Denmark, and even Aberdeen. Strutting their stuff in the dinghy park waiting for the wind to fill in were intimidating-looking teams in matching jackets, Team GB buoyancy aids, and even some former BUSA champions. I was starting to worry that my reputation might have been about to take a bit of a hammering, having agreed to sail against all of these people.
This was looking like an accurate prediction, as Glasgow Emily (name chosen by my co-captain) lost both of our first races, to Semi-Graduated, and the Really Old Arses, both of whom were looking very strong as they established themselves in a leading trio, alongside Edinburgh Export.
The fleet came from a very broad background, and as a result, we had worried that some of the club teams might be left behind by the more experienced team racers from the university scene. This couldn’t have been further from the truth, as every single team proved more than capable of holding their own in each race, springing plenty of surprises along the way in the shifty conditions.
Overnight, there was nothing to choose between Edinburgh Export and the Really Old Arses, both of whom had 100% records, just ahead of Semi Graduated, who also had 6 wins, but had sailed a race more.
The Edinbugh Uni team put in an appearance at the ceilidh in Faktory that night, in spite of not entering a team in the event (something about being scared), and this made it an excellent dry run for the SSS league weekends, even featuring some broken ribs for added realism.
The forecast for day 2 was ominous, and although the loch was looking fairly reasonable when we arrived, the clouds were already threatening. The breeze was coming over the trees on the southern shore of the loch, and this made it very squally, each period of wind stronger than the last.
Not that this stopped Edinburgh Export and the Really Old Arses from continuing their winning form, setting up a thrilling head-to-head race for the lead of the event. After the Arses initially found themselves in an unstable winning combination, Export fought back hard, and converted for the victory, making it their event to lose from then on in.
Not that they had it all their own way, their race against Clyde Cruising club shattering the myth of their invincibility. In a solid 1,2,3 heading down the run, they were hit by one of the biggest squalls of the day. In an instant, the 1,2,3 had become a 1,7,7, as two masts hit the water, and John Wilson could only look back and shake his head at his two capsized teammates.
John Murray hooles it. Photo courtesy of Susie Edmond
At this stage, the wind was really beginning to pick up, with some spectacular capsizes, near misses with the reeds, and a daring escape attempt by the finish boat, which had decided that staying anchored wasn’t really its cup of tea. There were even whispered rumours of a firefly on the plane. Race officer Uncle John made the sensible call to send the fleet ashore to reef, and finish the round robin with two flights of boats, which helped to thin out the carnage.
As racing drew to a close, nobody was more surprised than the Glasgow University organising committee that all our hard work had resulted in something resembling a team racing event. What’s more, people seemed to have enjoyed it, which definitely would not have happened without the immense amount of effort put in behind the scenes by far too many people to list. That said, there are a few people who it would be criminal to leave out: our Commodore, Emma Watson; bosuns Dualtach MacColgain and Johnny Coyle; Emily Robertson, team captain and driver to everywhere; All of our superb umpires; Lindsay Kerr, club secretary; Dundee and Strathclyde Universities, for providing additional boats; American Nick and his lovely fiancée Danielle, who are under no obligation to help, but always do; and Scott McWhirter and Louis Sisk, who did so much work in securing our sponsors for the event, Tunnock’s, Summer Sail Week, Drambuie, Faktory and Viper. If there’s anyone I’ve forgotten, you’ll have to wait until next year!
The competitors, photo courtesy of Lindsay Kerr
Final standings saw Edinburgh Export take a completely deserved win, and the prize of vouchers for a Summer Sail Week holiday, after finding extremely worthy opponents in the Really Old Arses, and indeed throughout the entire fleet. Overall results after 12 races per team were:
Edinburgh Export 11 wins
Really Old Arses 10 wins
Semi-Graduated 9 wins
Strathclyde Blue 7 wins
Glasgow Emily 7 wins
Clyde Cruising Club 7 wins
Team Laser Explosion 6 wins
Aberdeen Moose Knuckles 5 wins
Helensburgh 4 wins
Glasgow Tartan 3 wins
Auld Reekie Sailing Est. 3 wins
Dream Team 3 wins
Strathclyde White 2 wins
The winners, Edinburgh Export; Stuart Campbell, George Clark, John Murray, Mark Taylor, John Wilson, Tom Whitehead. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Kerr
At the end of an event I enjoyed immensely both on and off the water, all that’s left to do is to invite everyone back next year, which will hopefully be even better. See you there!
Glasgow University Sailing Club