Number 137 / September 2002

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Lomond & Sunart (RoyB)

Scotland showed the OCSG its gentler side this year. Apart from Saturday 17th, when the passage back from Luss to the campsite at Cashel on Loch Lomond became a matter of survival for some and a rip-roaring sail for others, we were treated to generally light winds and warm sunshine. This didn't please the racers, who only managed one out of the three races planned. We had been notified that the campsite might be flooded but in the event we only had to cope with soggy ground, not helped by a day of constant heavy rain on Sunday, when no play was possible. In the afternoon chairman BernardO called a meeting where any issues could be raised. We discussed ways in which members are contacted when a meet might be cancelled and the perennial topic of giving the OCSG a wider profile.

On Monday in blazing sunshine a race got under way, but after two hours when even the leaders

were only half way round Inchlonaig, enough was enough. Most of the fleet paddled back to base but others landed on a beach to enjoy lunch. Soon an orange lateen (HilaryS' 'latrine') appeared in the distance, unmistakeably that of local boy RolandD. Once again it was a pleasure to renew his acquaintance. But now the surface of Loch Lomond showed signs of atmospheric movement, so we pushed off and enjoyed a gentle reach and run before the wind fell away again just as we reached Cashel (beach scene on the right). Amongst the nineteen canoes sitting on the beach JimB's new white and blue trimaran stood out. As the week progressed

he seemed mighty chuffed. Repeating the success of last year, NevilleB, lively as ever, got a barbecue going as the sun slowly sank behind the mountains, ably helped by chef IanN. In the moonlight certain members serenaded the campsite with as many songs about the moon as they could recall - 7 in all...

Tuesday, and the racers looked out gloomily over the mirror-like water. Those more eager to get moving, by paddle if necessary, packed lunch and set out southwards. An hour or so later we landed somewhat gingerly on Inchcruin, whose owner doesn't generally like intruders. Sure enough, a kayak appeared from behind the trees fringing the bay. However we seemed to be the sort of people he tolerates (age has its advantages after all). After a chat about the weather and vegetable growing he asked us to take any litter with us and paddled away.

In the glorious sunshine RonO, WalterG, JimB, Jenny & KevinL and the editor decided to make for The Geggles between Inchcruin and Inchmoan. We now had a light air to help us. Kevin warned us of a rock in these parts that wanders about looking for OCSG sailors. It's hit his canoe twice before, inflicting damage. Sure enough, with four of us abreast, his leeboard struck and canoe lurched. Is this more than coincidence??? We glided through the narrows and on to Luss - serene, serene. EddieP joined us in ice creams. Then with just a little more use of the paddle we crossed to Cashel.

By now a palpable breeze had developed and the racers were champing at the bit. HilaryS, officiating, got things smartly away at 4.30, on a modest course clockwise round the Ross Isles. IanN was first away, closely followed by SteveR who decided to risk a very close-hauled course. Everyone else bore further off the wind, especially the trimarans in the northwesterly blowing almost directly from the Ross Isles. From the beach we could see that Steve's tactic was not paying off as DaveS and PeteH led the field on a new close-hauled course up the loch. Dave overtook Pete before disappearing behind the Isles. He maintained this lead to a close finish as the wind eased. Two other pairs were engaged in close contest too, Ian and Steve for 4th and Eddie and Louise for 8th place.

At the presentation Pete (2nd) and DaveP (3rd) received silver and bronze medals respectively whilst DaveS was awarded the gold for the 4 Nations Cup and the Dan Denearez Trophy. That was not all, however. LouiseH won the Novices' Trophy as the highest placed to qualify for this. Since capsizing twice in the Novices' Race last year her dinghy sailing experience has really started to show through.

No Lomond meet would be complete without a meal at the Pottery at Drymen. HilaryS had collected names and ordered tables. The food proved to be as good and the service as friendly as ever.

On Wednesday, after some uncertainty, it transpired that almost everyone had decided to pack their bags for Loch Sunart. We drove through sunlit mountains in remarkably clear visibility to arrive at Resipole Farm with time to rig canoes and venture out on this beautiful water. Once out, Eddie, Lis and I were treated to the sight of porpoises gracefully curving above the surface, once barely 10 yards away. For me, a first. And the midges? They stayed away until about 7.30, when we took flight to the very comfortable bar/restaurant. No bother.

On Thursday the meteorological menu had hardly altered. Ann & KeithM, who had just arrived from France, led a gaggle of canoes heading westwards with the island of Carna and Loch Teacuis behind it as a notional goal. Once again lack of wind rendered progress slow; I haven't used the paddle so much for ages! Only Ann & Keith miraculously disappeared down the loch - electrically powered as it turned out. Lunch was taken past Salen, WalterG having already brewed up on board.

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