Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

West Highland week beckons

23rd March 2009

As Irish regatta organisers wonder can they still attract British entries across the Irish sea, Scotland's West Highland Yachting Week 2009 (from July 31 to August 7) is promising to be a really special one – being the last event sponsored by Tennent Caledonian Breweries. Tennents have been sole sponsors for 30 years – the longest running sporting sponsorship in the UK - and the regatta has changed hugely since the company first started supporting it. From a fleet of around 50 yachts at that stage the Week now attracts an average of 130 boats and in anniversary years this has exceeded 200 competing yachts. The event has burgeoned throughout the Tennents partnership years – for many this sponsorship period represents an entire generation of sailors. It is expected the 2009 regatta will see a record number of competitors past, present and future joining together to celebrate the culmination of an extraordinary partnership.

The event is now entering a new dimension and welcomes Tunnocks on board for 2009 with the white sail classes to be known as the ‘Tunnocks Fleet’. Tunnocks’ biscuit products have acquired the proud status of genuine Scottish icons and their support is a fitting partnership with a unique Scottish regatta.

EventScotland and Argyll and Bute Council have also supported WHYW for 2009 with the spinnaker fleet known as the ‘Argyll Fleet’. Feeder races will be as usual from the Clyde and from Gigha and Oban to Craobh Marina. Last year’s Gigha feeder proved extremely popular and the island is planning entertainment for the fleet on the preceding night for this year’s event.

With the Lord of the Isles at Craobh planning another ‘sensational’ event like last year, the scene is set for another spectacular event both on and off the water.

A diverse entertainment programme includes many events that are family-focussed – a fun night at Oban’s Atlantis Leisure with free swimming, a five-a-side football tournament, tag rugby, barbecues and a free night at the cinema. Add to this widespread pub entertainment, top bands like Skipinish for the barn dance on Kerrera, an open air dance in Tobermory and a final night ceilidh fling and it’s easy to see the après sail attraction of the event.

Julia Heap, Joint Regatta Committee secretary said the mix of good racing and socialising encouraged people to return every year: 'Everyone is really looking forward to the event, renewing old acquaintances and meeting some of the many new people who have entered this year.'

As well as the mix of passage and round the buoys racing based around Oban and Tobermory, the fleet race race Round Lismore on Monday August 3 – an ever popular circumnavigation.

Race Officer Malcolm MacGregor has also been considering a change to Class divisions and is proposing Class 3 will be for CYCA handicaps from 11.0-13.5 minutes. Class 1 will be the IRC class for handicaps 0.970 and above. In addition Class 5 is set from CYCA 14.0-15.5 minutes.

Meanwhile a new website has been launched. Packed with information about the event and with video footage on the home page, the new site gives browsers a wider range of information than before as well as an insight into the regatta’s history and an excellent photo gallery.

The site will be more interactive than before and post regular news bulletins to keep competitors up to date with developments. A DVD of the 2008 event has also been produced for promotional purposes.

The Notice of Race appears on the website. WHYW runs from 31st July to 7th August 2009 – see Team

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