Largs Regatta Festival 2023 concluded with the iconic Scottish Two Handed Race which takes yachts, sailed only by two people irrespective of size, on a 40 mile course around Holy Island or for those with more stamina on a 80 mile course around Arran. The only race of its kind in Scotland it is a supreme test of patience, strength and tactics with a lot of luck thrown in for good measure.
This year’s race attracted 40 yachts with 15 opting for the long overnight Arran course. A windless start off Largs Yacht Haven may have provided a colourful spectacle as the yachts drifted downwind but caused frustration amongst the sailors attempting to keep their yachts moving against a strong tide and avoiding being swept on to the rocks at the point on Great Cumbrae. It took almost two hours for the light southerly to fill in, those who had closed the Little Cumbrae shore took the advantage and immediately pulled ahead into the new wind leaving those stranded in Millport Bay watching in disbelief as the fleet sailed away. From there the wind remained constant to allow the Holy Island fleet to make around the island late afternoon, some escaping the windless holes which allowed the positions to change constantly. Under a magnificent evening sky the majority finished by 9pm, having been becalmed against a 2.5knot tide in the Tan channel. However the slowest boat, Wavelength, on this course managed to gain the advantage of a building southerly wind and a tide change to make up lost time and snatch the class trophy by 2 minutes – after 14 hours of racing!
Light, shifting winds
On the Round Arran course positions changed constantly in the light airs. 4 yachts finished within 5 minutes of each other – truly impressive over such a long distance. Unfortunately Infinite Jest (I Munro) was becalmed off Lochranza but heroically persevered to complete the 80 miles by 7am – a real show of tenacity.
Special mention should be made to veterans of the race, Ian Nicholson, and Clive Reeves, who took third place in Class 6 with a combined age of 175. The Viking Sword for the Round Arran race was won by race regular Scott Chalmers with his daughter Storm on board their new boat, Sleipnir. They also took the prize for the best performance by a family crew. Best performance by an all girl crew went to Wavelength (Carolyn Elder and Kirsteen Woods) who also took Class 6 honours. First boat to finish the round Arran race went to Tangaroa (Des Balmforth and Robin Wilkins).
The race is appropriately sponsored by Isle of Arran Distilleries, trophies and sponsors products were gratefully received by all.
CLASS 1 (Round Arran)
- Sleipnir (Scott and Storm Chalmers)
- Saboo (Jim McIlwraith and Angus Scott)
- Samurai J (Alan MacLeod and Robert Walker)
- Dragonfly (Bill and Robbie Fowler)
- Artemis (Ian MacDonald and Jeremy Glen)
- Candubhlah (Wallace Cutherbertson and Wallace Nial)
- Stormer (Gordon Patrick and Donald Syme)
- Prospero (Graeme and Ewan Randall)
- Jonpanda (J Eltringham and Gary Leitch)
- Breagha (Brendan Bocker and Dave Baker)
- Suilven (Paul and Eileen Rae)
- Moorea (Dom Mackay and Barry Fisher)
- Wavelength (Carolyn Elder and Kirsteen Woods)
- Iapetus (David Stewart and Peter Hamill)
- Lyrebird (Clive Reeves and Ian Nicolson)
- Best family performance: Sleipnir (Scott and Storm Chalmers)
- Fastest round Arran: Tangaroa (Des Balmforth and Robin Wilkins)
- Best all girl crew: Wavelength (Carolyn Elder and Kirsteen Woods)
- Highest aggregate age: Lyrebird (Clive Reeves and Ian Nicholson)