Under starters orders for the 2015 West Highland Yachting Week!
The 68th West Highland Yachting Week (WHYW) starts this Saturday (August 1) at Craobh Marina and the regatta this year welcomes over 80 boats to enjoy not only great sailing but a camaraderie that is quite special to this event.
Tunnock’s is the major sponsor of WHYW and there is support from Argyll and Bute Council, Malin Waters, Tobermory Harbour Association, Gaelforce Marine and help from West Coast Motors, Caledonian MacBrayne and Flit Self Drive.
With origins dating back as far as 1882, this unique ‘moving’ regatta takes in Oban and Tobermory as well as Craobh as the three ports of call. Passage races move the fleet from port to port with racing taking place off each venue.
Feeder races planned for 2015 are from Oban, Gigha and Bangor, Northern Ireland. These bring the fleet to enjoy the hospitality at Craobh Marina over the first two days of the regatta. The Lord of the Isles hosts the grand opening party on Saturday which sets the social scene for the week ahead.
For WHW is as much about the social side of sailing as the competitive racing. For many people it’s a chance to catch up on old friends, many they only see at this event, as well as make new acquaintances.
Often the event has up to three generations taking part - children who competed as youngsters are now skippering their own boats with their own families.
It is truly an event for everyone – from families or those short handed on crew who want to take part in the white sail classes to the highest level of competitive sailors in the spinnaker classes.
WHYW chairman Andy Knox said: ‘Approaching the 68th anniversary of this unique event in sailing, we look forward to continuing to provide an enjoyable week of sport and social activities. Not only is this type of event nowhere else to be found but it brings much needed revenue to local communities in this area.’ A mix of racing With a mix of passage and Olympic style racing throughout the week, WHYW also offers great flexibility to do only a few days or compete in the entire series.
Back in 1882 there were only two classes – one for yachts over 40 tons and one for those under this weight! 133 years later there up to ten racing classes separated by handicap with the spinnaker classes known as The Tunnock’s Fleet and the Argyll Fleet for the white sail classes when the fleets race separately. This reflects the sponsorship of the event from both Tunnock’s and from Argyll and Bute Council.
Returning for another year to run the racing is Principal Race Officer Malcolm MacGregor who is hugely experienced in the field. David Wilkie from Kilmelford and George Seaton from Oban work alongside Malcolm as Race Officers for the feeder races and white sail classes.
Malcolm said: ‘We are very much looking forward to this year’s event. WHYW offers such a variety of racing there is something for everyone and we hope the mix of races offered in both passage and ‘round the cans’ will give all the competitors an enjoyable week.’
Feeder races converge on Craobh Marina on Saturday August 1 for the launch of the event. Marina manager Alastair Spence said: ‘Craobh is looking forward to hosting the start of the week, particularly with the fleet staying two nights. We always endeavour to make sure everyone has a great time at the marina. Half price berthing is offered for all WHYW competitors and our all facilities building at Craobh will service the fleet.’ Facilities for yachts are also available at nearby Kilmelford, Crinan and Ardfern.