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Fiftieth Anniversary Scottish Series Attracts Northern Ireland Sigma 33s

10th January 2024
Paul and Emma Prentice's Sigma 33 Squawk from Belfast Lough plans to compete in the 50th-anniversary edition of the Scottish Series on Loch Fyne in May
Paul and Emma Prentice's Sigma 33 Squawk from Belfast Lough plans to compete in the 50th-anniversary edition of the Scottish Series on Loch Fyne in May

One hundred and ten and counting. The popular Scottish Series Regatta run by the Clyde Cruising Club out of Tarbert on Loch Fyne on the west coast of Scotland has, at the last count, 110 expressions of interest.

The event runs from the 24th to the 27th of May, but unfortunately, Howth Yacht Club’s Wave Regatta clashes with the Scottish event. At least one top Belfast Lough competitor has had to decide between the two – John Minnis won Class 3 at Tarbert in 2021, racing the Beneteau First 31.7 Final Call, and then in his new Archambault 35 Final Call II, he topped Class 1 in the 2022 Wave Regatta in Howth where he will defend the title this year.

The Scottish Series Notice of Race and early bird entry for SS24 will open at the end of this month.

The Scottish Series has been a fixture in the sailing calendar for five decades. Established in 1975, this regatta has consistently drawn sailors from around the UK to compete in the waters of Loch Fyne. The Covid pandemic dampened the opportunity but in this, the 50th Anniversary Year, the organisers, the Clyde Cruising Club, promises an event to remember with innovation on the water and a shoreside social programme.

Excession competing at the IRC open meeting in Bangor on Belfast LoughExcession competing at the IRC open meeting in Bangor on Belfast Lough

The fleet will be spread over classes ranging from IRC, through One Designs (at the time of writing, numbering 37 registering interest), CYCA, to an innovative new CYCA Introductory Class for those who have not raced in a major event before and twelve have interest in this division which will race close to but separate from, the main CYCA flee. The experience will incorporate a level of guidance and instruction.

Also new for this year is the deployment of remote controlled SmartMarks – a first for Scotland and described here, and the inclusion of a MOCRA (Multihull Offshore Cruising and Racing Association) ‘demonstration’ Class – multihulls showing their pace. Welcome too will be the opening of berthing in Portavadie on Loch Fyne’s eastern shore to improve accommodation availability with an evening water taxi.

The informal Register of Interest process is still open here

The word is that among the Belfast Lough boats hoping to head for Tarbert are three Sigma 33s - Squawk (Paul and Emma Prentice) Mithril (Mark Mackey) and Elandra (Martin and Vicki Dews); and the Sigma 33 Signet in Restricted Sail- the O’Tiarnaigh/ Harrington/ Mulholland trio’s IMX38 Excession and the Beneteau 31.7 Caesium (Aidan Pounder).

Vickie and Martin Dews Sigma 33 Elandra from Northern IrelandVickie and Martin Dews Sigma 33 Elandra from Northern Ireland

The Chair of the N I Sigma Association, Paul Prentice from Belfast Lough, is excited to compete at the Scottish Series; “We are looking forward to the Tarbert event this year. It continues to offer fantastic sailing opportunities and activities ashore”.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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Scottish Series Background

Although the format of the Scottish Series varies little from year to year, it is interesting to see some of the changes which the event has seen over the years:

  • CYCA handicap class added to IOR (1976)
  • IOR level rating classes to reflect the popular sizes and World Championships being held in the UK
  • Separate one design class for Sonatas (1980 to date)
  • Campbeltown dropped with offshore races direct to Tarbert (1982)
  • Unique light displacement CYCA class - the forerunner of today's sportboats (1982)
  • Computer results system introduced in 1982 and now recognised as the best in the UK
  • Separate one design class for Sigma 33 (1987 to date)
  • Separate one design classes in certain years for Impalas, Sigma 38, Melges 24 and Cork 1720
  • Inner triangle to shorten courses for smaller classes (1986)
  • Points loading for offshore race reduced from 2 to 1.5 to 1
  • First racing in Scotland under Channel Handicap (1988)
  • Second racecourse for smaller classes (1989)
  • Discard introduced
  • Windward leeward races - two per day (1993)
  • Sportboat classes with no overnight races (1994)
  • Marquee on quayside for main social events (1995-2008)
  • Restricted Sail Class (1998)
  • Third racecourse for sportboats with up to three races per day (1998)
  • Day feeder races (2002)
  • Overnight and day feeder races discontinued (2005)
  • Stand-alone Tarbert Inbound and Outbound passage races introduced (2005/6)

With all these changes, some things have stayed the same:

  • Huge support from Ireland every year since 1975
  • A magnificent effort ashore and afloat from the volunteer helpers of the Clyde Cruising Club, Royal Scottish Motor Yacht Club and Tarbert Loch Fyne Yacht Club
  • Results and communications service at the forefront of technology
  • The best competition and the best social scene in the country
  • An overall Series winner, the roll call including many of the top sailors in Scotland and beyond.

Scottish Series 2022

Following the cancellation of the 2020 event, the dates for the 2021 edition of Scotland's biggest sailing event at Tarbert is: 3 –5 June 2022

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