Void of any sailing experience bar a half-hearted couple of weeks’ attendance at a University sailing club, the requirement, last minute, for me to step into the breach at the esteemed Crinan Classic Boat Festival – Ladies Race, was one, thankfully, I had little chance to ponder.
The friendly, informal gathering has gained in popularity over the last few years, offering races, traditional entertainment and general good natured gusto over a few days in July to an assembled mix of yachts, motorboats, sailing dinghies and their willing mariners.
Taking place in one of, if not THE, favourite spot of mine on Scotland’s stunning West Coast, a friend and myself decided to spend a “relaxing” couple of days of pampering, long walks and fresh air; that was before it became apparent that Siok – a 25 foot wooden folk sailing boat, was short of the essential all female crew for Saturday’s race.
Our training consisted of a quick ten minutes of tutoring prior to the commencement of the race, and so, panic stricken, we started, with loud and clear instruction from the only person on board who actually knew what he was doing but was unable to offer hands-on assistance, for obvious reasons.
Fairly choppy waters in the Crinan basin were counteracted by the good-natured humour of the participants, of all ages, who, upon passing us, waved and offered some genuine encouragement. Problems with the unexpectedly strong wind and other forces of nature, led to a number of boats retiring or being unable to complete the race, offering hope and optimism to our crew of three.
Sheer determination, utter ignorance of the facts and much screaming later, led us to a very respectable third at the finish line, despite a time penalty handed out due to a minor issue of crossing of the line prior to the start gun.
That unimportant fact however, did not deter us from celebrating fully, bruises and all, well into the night at the annual Ceilidh, held at Crinan Boat Yard. Local musicians and interesting characters galore made a fantastic night and about as far from the proposed major chill out we had planned as anyone could imagine but nonetheless fantastic!
Photos of Crinan Classics courtesy of Mike Dalglish