As published in Yachting Life, July issue 2014
National Centre Cumbrae made their mark on Scottish Series by providing two of the 4 mark laying boats. The were manned by four cruising instructors bringing their skills and expertise to the race course. The Clyde Cruising Club had chartered the ribs and employed the skills of the drivers but Tom Thurlow and Jen Mitchell assisted on a voluntary basis. Dan Smith and Tom made up one team while David McCardel and Jen paired up on the second boat. The mark laying team also included Stephen Bennie and Tony using Euroyacht’s Merryfisher and Stuart White from the SSI in the London Olympic legacy Protector Rib. This was a highly skilled group of people on the water who all have regatta experience behind them.
Laying marks in Loch Fyne is no mean feat and Dave McCardel reports that the average depth was 175m with over 200m of rope and chain attached to the 20kg anchors. This is a lot of ground tackle to carry in the ribs and requires strength and fitness to lift back on-board. Fortunately the breeze was fairly steady and tweaks were made rather than massive course changes. On the Sunday the racing north of Tarbert had very changeable conditions and after 1 race was completed the wind became so variable that no further course was laid.
Dan Smith enjoyed the challenge of laying the marks laid to precise coordinates. He explained that the Race officers, David Kent or Johnny Readman, would provide the mark boats with a course reference point and using specific axis charts the ribs would then have a bearing and distance for the location of their race mark. Each mark boat therefore had a GPS and through the use of this handy gadget courses were very acutate. The mark layers would use traditional methods of transits and bearings to ensure their marks were holding and in addition they could go back alongside and check the GPS location.
The team from Cumbrae enjoyed being part of the Regatta and it is an example of the high level of expertise we have here in Scotland in both the professional and voluntary sector of the sailing community. Sharing skills and working together continues to inspire and train others. As a competitor you expect well set courses, writes Joanna Turner, and they add to the value and experience of the Regatta. It is super that the CCC recognises the skill set at Cumbrae and the SSI and has incorporated these organisations once again in their event management plan to deliver another great event.