MUSTO Skiff Open at Chanonry Sailing Club
3-4 August 2019
Better than the Fastnet
Report by Jono Shelley
As 340 boats fought for space in the choppy, merky, waters of the Solent, Chanonry Sailing Club, located on the beautiful Black Isle in the North East Coast of Scotland was preparing to host the Scottish Skiff fleet as part of its annual regatta. Saturday was the best day of Skiff sailing that many could remember, with sun shining, sea breeze progressively building to c15-18 knots and flat water. So tempting in fact, that in the later races some chose to share a swim in the crystal clear waters with the famous Chanonry Point Dolphins.
No one told Ben Yeats that ‘steady away’ is a good option in order to post ‘a counter’ in the first race of a regatta. Yeats first boldly blasting across the fleet with a top class port end start to lead at the windward mark, then unfortunately eskimo rolling down the run to end up down the pecking order. Jono Shelley however found the conditions much to his liking serving up a 1,2,1 to lead overnight with some good upwind pace on show in the increasing breeze. Jamie Hilton was always close by, as always, and took the middle race win, but also uncharacteristically ‘self selected’ as an occasional swimmer to post a 3 and 4 to accompany it. Robbie Wilson, the maverick, and Tom Conway, the Geordie biker, were also regularly on hand and very much in touching distance for Sunday’s racing. Some excellent You Tube footage of the racing can be found here: https://youtu.be/56Vf4IbU-50
Saturday night was both a social and entertaining affair with great catering on hand in the sailing club and up the road in Fortrose’s restaurant and bars. Thanks to Kev and Judie Holliday for event making and the much needed breakfasts.
Sunday was unfortunately not a carbon copy of Saturday. Hilton however was clearly a fan of ‘the night before fuzzy head’, 4-8k of wind and periodic drizzle. He expertly picked his way to the front of the fleet extending all the time in the first race of the day. Robbie Wilson got the nod for second from a pack including Ali Kerr, Ian Morten and Euan Hunter. In the second of the day no one saw Hilton as he was again on the horizon aligning boat speed, wind shifts and tide where others simply could not. Ali Kerr grabbing second by half a boat length from Shelley and Wilson.
So into the final race Hilton has done enough to lead by a point. Shelley appeared to nail the start to lead at the windward mark with Hunter, Wilson Kerr and Hilton in hot pursuit. By the leeward gate Hilton has squeezed through to the front being a better judge of the layline. Close quarters racing up wind prematurely came to an end as Shelley was informed he was OCS to cement his undignified fall from grace, with Hilton left leading the fleet by a county mile. Hunter and Wilson enjoyed a ‘ding dong’ for the remaining laps to finish 2nd and 3rd and with it Robbie Wilson also claimed 2nd overall. A special shout out to Euan Hunter who is racing boat number 58 and clearly demonstrating the longevity in performance of the MUSTO Skiff.
What a great weekend of racing. Well done to Jamie Hilton who frankly blitzed the fleet in every respect on Sunday to take the overall win. Many a ‘long slog’ at work will be saved by a peek at the drone footage which is a fantastic reminder of this skiff sailing paradise in the North of Scotland. The movement for a Chanonry SC
MUSTO Skiff UK Nationals begins....
1st Jamie Hilton
2nd Robbie Wilson
3rd Jono Shelley