Freak winds and earthquakes fail to spoil the party at West Ardnamurchan regatta
Even strong freak winds and earthquakes were unable to spoil the fun at this year’s West Ardnamurchan annual regatta.
It was early on the Friday morning, the second day of the races, that saw freak winds damage the marquee which housed the bar, burger counter and stalls, and it required a Herculean effort at six in the morning to re- erect it and tidy the mess.
Then, as spectators watched the early afternoon races, two of the strongest earthquakes in 30 years rocked the area.
Regatta chairman Alastair MacColl commented: ‘ We’re used to this sort of thing. One year the marquee blew away during the races but everyone carried on.
‘The important thing was that both spectators and competitors thoroughly enjoyed themselves, with 25 races competed in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
‘The highlight of the first day was the participation of round-Britain canoeist Colin Skeath who, with his wife Katrina, rigged two sails on their boat and gave the more conventional yachts a good run for their money.
‘As a result, Katrina and Colin came third in the Ellan Vannin Handicap Series and second in both the Portu- airk Quaich and the Challenge Cup – a considerable achievement.
‘In recognition of his feat in completing the circumnavigation, the regatta committee presented Colin with one of our top awards, the Carraig Plate for Outstanding Achievement in Sailing.’
There was also plenty of excitement in the inshore racing. The hardestfought race was the canoe men’s doubles, in which Geoff Campbell and Alex Hester hauled themselves up from third place to win in a thrilling final few metres.
The men’s canoe singles offered the strongest field, with nine competing in a race won by Fraser Glasgow, who was British reserve in the under-18 single canoe slaloming. Added excitement came from Tim White’s two capsizes, from each of which he quickly recovered with textbook Eskimo rolls.
There were other notable moments, with competitors colliding, a rower losing an oar and a competitor in the yacht races overturning when he was hit by a sudden gust of wind.
The youngest competitor was Allan Curtis, aged six, who won both the Junior Mixed Doubles’ Rowing with his cousin Emma MacLachlan and the Boys’ Doubles Rowing with his cousin Stuart MacLachlan.
Despite some rain, the usual crowds of spectators attended and were able to browse the stalls which included a bicycle-powered smoothie maker, a ‘guess the weight of the lobster’, and a raffle for a large hamper of generously donated goods. Mr MacColl added: ‘We had two thoroughly enjoyable days crowned by a great evening’s dancing at the annual regatta dance, but none of this would have been possible without the hard work of the committee and many others, all of whom I sincerely thank.’
Once incidental expenses are covered, the money raised goes to the RNLI, the Red Cross, and to the West Ardnamurchan Jetty Association, which maintains the Kilchoan jetty and the moorings available for visiting boats.
Next year’s regatta is on Thursday and Friday, August 2 and 3.
Colin Skeath and his wife, Katriona, centre, are presented with the Carraig Plate by Elaine Shaw.
Senior mixed doubles winners Rachael Haylett and Tim White cross the finishing line.
Youngest competitor Allan Curtis and Emma MacLachlan show plenty of determination in their race.
The men’s canoe event gets under way.