Arran 2 / Ailsa 1 & 2 Series – Race Report

Arran 2

A sunny evening and steady wind saw the second pursuit race of the season at Toward. From 6.45pm the dinghies set off at intervals followed by the keel boats all hoping to overtake everyone in front to take the lead before the 8.30pm finish.

Kriss Baird-Dean in her Topper was first off followed 10 minutes later by hubby Dave in his Comet who made up a lot of ground on his good lady before the sheet fairies tangled his main sheet causing him to capsize. By the time he got himself upright and sailing again the Toppers were well away. Kriss led the way for the first half hour before being caught then overtaken by Fiona Mackay in the other Topper who put her local tidal knowledge to good use. By that time the other dinghies and keel boats had all started and were strung out along the course. As the later starters began to gain on the leaders the Comet decided it was time to go for another swim, unfortunately this time breaking his tiller in the process. This gave the others the opportunity to overtake him and by the time he was once again up the right way he was in last place.

With 20 minutes to go the faster boats were gaining on the front runners and it was clear that it would be a close finish. On the last leg the boats bunched together so that only the first and last positions were clear. Approaching the last mark Gimcrack and Saorsa were close together and battling for third place but Gimcrack on starboard rounded first as Saorsa on port tack had to give way. The next four boats changed positions with 30 seconds to go showing how well this personal handicap system works.

As a finale the Comet had one last capsize ensuring his last place. Thank goodness for discards! (Out of 6 races in the series only 4 count – handy for when you’re having a bad day).

Ailsa 1/2

For the first Sunday race of the season only Alasdair McLean braved the conditions to arrive at the start line for the first two races in the Ailsa series.


Arran 2

1st Topper, F. Mackay
2nd Gimcrack(GK24), D. Hillhouse
3rd Saorsa (Moody 33), A. Finlay


Ailsa 1

1st Nae Loser (Laser), A. McLean


Ailsa 2

1st Nae Loser (Laser), A. McLean

Power Boating

Last weekend (9-10th May) was a busy one around the club. While 30+ volunteers conducted an extensive beach clean before being rewarded with a barbeque on the Saturday, a group from Both Toward and Isle of Bute Sailing Clubs were put through their paces by Advanced Powerboat Instructor, John Small, as they worked towards their RYA Safetyboat certificate. Toward offers this service to its near neighbour at minimal cost as part of its philosophy of raising the standard of all types of boating skills on an entirely voluntary, non-profit  making basis.

Saturday morning began with the theory of power boat driving before the candidates headed out to put this theory  into practice. Conditions were ideal – fairly flat water and plenty of sunshine – just like the images in the RYA training videos!  By the end of day 1 both skill and confidence had increased substantially.

Sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning summer changed back into winter. Sunday dawned gray and blustery – nothing at all like the RYA training videos! Some of the exercises of the previous day were repeated illustrating how different conditions can make a seemingly simple  task much more challenging. In the afternoon the candidates were given the chance to put their newly acquired rescue skills into practice as the only sailor who had turned up for racing volunteered (some would say was press ganged) to join them as “the casualty”. With the wind continuing to increase this gave them the chance to experience the reality of providing safety cover -nothing like the RYA training Videos!  Pleased to say they were successful!

Beach Clean – 9 May 2015

Over 30 enthusiastic people came along to help out with the beach clean on Saturday. This was an event held as part of the South Cowal Community Festival. It was also held in conjunction with Let’s Clean Up Scotland. Fortunately, the weather was extremely kind and the sun shone throughout the proceedings.

The area covered stretched from the beach by old Toward Castle over to Ardyne Bay. Armed with bin bags and grabbers, volunteers swarmed the shore searching for any man-made flotsam and jetsam. There was plenty to collect, including large quantities of plastic fragments, bottle tops, bottles, cotton bud sticks, and everything from paintbrushes to toothbrushes to toy soldiers. A huge number of bin bags were piled up at the clubhouse and later taken by trailer to the recycling centre in Dunoon.

Volunteers enjoyed a barbecue on the Club patio after a job very well done. Thanks to everyone who showed up to help out!

First Arran Series 2015 – Race Report

Arran mountains behind ButeThe first pursuit race of the Arran Series took place in fairly challenging conditions last Thursday. The snow on Arran may have looked pretty but gave a clue to just how cold it was.

There was a definite advantage to being one of the slower boats in the fleet as this dubious honour meant  you got to set off early while conditions were still fairly good. Fiona Mackay, sailing one of the Club’s Toppers, was off first followed four minutes later by Katana. By the end of the second leg Katana had made up the deficit and just managed to break the overlap in time to round the mark clear ahead. Back over at the start the faster boats in the fleet were jockeying for position as, one by one, their start times approached. Despite starting two minutes ahead, Gimcrack was soon overtaken by Alasdair McLean’s Laser which in turn was being closely pursued by Alasdair Finlay in his Moody 336, Saorsa. By this time however the gentle breeze that had been around at the start was rapidly vanishing. With multiple wind shifts and holes in the wind appearing all around it took full concentration to keep the boats moving. With 20 minutes of the race remaining, the ominous black clouds which had been hanging over the Toward hills finally arrived. With them came a significant increase in wind speed not to mention some fierce squalls with just a hint of sleet in them. Racing down the Toward shore Fiona,  making the most of the conditions, even managing to get the little Topper up on the plane. As a result the Topper would fly past the keelboat before dropping back again as each squall passed. As the clouds moved away conditions settled again leaving behind a pleasant wind and beautiful sunset in which to finish the race. Unfortunately this came just too late for the late starters leaving Fiona to finish a few boat lengths ahead of Katana with the Laser in third still some way behind.


Arran 1

1st Topper, F. Mackay
2nd Katana (Cutlass 27), F. McLean
3rd Nae Loser (Laser), A. McLean

Starter Trophy 2015

The weather on Saturday 18th April couldn’t have been better for the launching of the keelboats at Toward Sailing Club. Sunshine and light winds provided ideal conditions for the eight boats to be craned into the water at Ardyne Basin before making their way round to the moorings at Toward.

The first race of the season took place the following Thursday and, unbelievably, the conditions remained the same. Eight boats, of eight different classes, arrived at the start line eager to get their hands on the Starter Trophy. The gentle westerly wind was ideal for the first race where everyone is still trying to find their way around – both their boat and the course. Alasdair McLean in his Laser got off to a good start closely pursued by Alasdair Finlay’s Moody, Saorsa ,and John Orr in his Contender.

John soon took the lead but the light conditions were never going to suit him as he failed to shake off the others. As is always the way at this time of year, as the sun set and the temperature rapidly fell, so did the wind. This left the slower boats falling further and further behind until Kriss in her Topper, not wanting to be sailing in the dark, decided to retire with two legs still to go.

Once the handicaps had been applied it proved to have been a close contest with the first four boats having little to separate them. Alasdair McLean came out on top finishing just over two minutes ahead of Saorsa.

Sadly the benevolent conditions couldn’t last forever and by Monday evening the hardy souls that turned up for the ‘Come and try it’ session were face with a Force 4 wind and decidedly chilly temperatures. This unfortunately meant that, in the interest of safety, the session had to be cancelled.


Starter Trophy

1st Nae Loser (Laser), A. McLean
2nd Saorsa (Moody 336), A. Finlay
3rd Dr Feelgood (Contender), J. Orr

Kayak Section Club Sessions 2015

The kayak section of Toward Sailing Club is progressing well and we are on schedule for opening this spring. We intend to start club kayaking sessions on Thursday evenings from 7-9pm provisionally commencing 21 May 2015, these sessions will run every Thursday (coach availability and weather permitting) throughout the summer.

Structured six week block coaching sessions will be available for those that are looking for it. The six week blocks will repeat throughout the year. Coaching blocks will cost £25 for the 6 weeks.

It has taken a lot of background work to get to this point, but we will be in the position to have 12 adult sized sea kayaks, and 6 children sized kayaks available for members to borrow for club nights along with spray decks and paddles. Borrowing a club kayak will cost a nominal fee each night which will go towards the maintenance of the kayaks. Alternatively members can take along their own sea kayak/paddle etc. if they have them already to these coaching sessions.

Please make sure to read our equipment/clothing advice for sea kayaking before attending any of these sessions.

Please check on the TSC Kayak Section Facebook Group for status updates of the coaching/club sessions on a weekly basis. Decisions as to whether they proceed each week will be made based on weather forecasts.

If you are not currently a club member but are interested in learning to sea kayak at Toward Sailing Club, please get in touch with one of the committee for more information, or visit the  club membership page to download the club membership form to apply to join the club.




Further Swimming Pool Sessions Announced

Kayak Pool SessionFollowing on from the hugely popular first block of six pool sessions,  the kayak section is happy to announce another further block of six pool sessions. These sessions are currently fully subscribed by people who expressed an interest but couldn’t make it to the first six sessions at the pool.

The dates for these sessions are –

April 10 2015

April 24 2015

May 1 2015

May 8th 2015

May 15 2015

May 29 2015

Location: Riverside leisure centre swimming pool, Dunoon.

Each session runs from 6.15pm-7.15pm but it is advised to be at the pool for 6.00pm in order to be ready for 6.15pm start.

Please note that as mentioned above the spaces for these sessions are all full so we cannot accommodate any participants who drop in on the night. Further pool sessions will commence in the Autumn.

Duncan Winning OBE to give talks at TSC

Duncan Winning OBE (Honorary President of the Scottish Canoe Association, and OBE for services to kayaking), is sometimes labelled ‘the godfather of Scottish Sea Kayaking’ and is definitely a kayak pioneer.  He started kayaking at age 10 and has designed and built his own sea kayaks since 1953.

Duncan has been kind enough to to agree to give two talks to TSC members.

  • The first of the two talks will be about “The History of Sea Kayaking in Scotland”, a subject that has no more qualified person to deliver it than Duncan. This one is scheduled for 7.30pm 25 Feb 2015 at the TSC clubhouse.
  • The second of the two talks will be about “Duncan’s Trip to Kayak in Greenland” complete with slideshow of the trip. This one is scheduled for 7.30pm 25 Mar 2015 at the TSC clubhouse.

Both talks may be of interest to all sailing club members, but the second one would certainly be enjoyed by sailers at the club as it’s a great travelogue. (I can attest to this having personally seen it once before).

Both talks are open to all TSC members.