Off she goes, Iain Oughtred's slightly foreshortened Penny Fee, at 15ft. Sails by Jeckells, spars by the wonderful Jeremy Freeland at Collars. The rest by Messrs Burke and Morgan (that's Jonny by the way...)

Sunday, 22 May 2011


I have been informed that a certain Chris P**kins, photographer, boat builder, naturalist and self-confessed Varnol-addict (a Super injunction prevents me from naming him) has made it clear that, contrary to what I wrote a few posts ago, he is not and never has been a royalist and nothing would tempt him from his lair in the Strathkanaird hills to cover a royal honeymoon. In short, as he told me forcibly at this weekend's Coigach Skiff Regatta, he is a republican to the core.

As to the regatta, I will let others tell the story how Ullapool's skiffs fared. Their website has more details, but this probably sums it up best: "Ulla and her crews were proud to have taken part, winning was never really our strategy." Mr P's photos are well worth the visit alone. Ulla and Cul Mor were certainly up there with the prettiest, along with Newhaven's Wee Michael, but Portobello's two light, stripped to the bone minimalist skiffs had "fast" written all over them, and in racing it is not looks that count. Pretty good rowers though...
Credit Chris Perkins

Not all was gloom: the Royal Loch Broom Sailing Club's recently launched  Loki (she with the fetching black bird at its prow) performed creditably, coming third in one race and missing two more third places by a short beak. Fourth, pushing third place, out of ten boats appeared to be her natural position, which was encouraging on a first outing. My role was to hand out queen cakes to the exhausted crew, provide vocal encouragement and commiseration in equal measure to the team consisting of Paul, Robert, Sandy, John, Andy, Karen, Shona and Kate (I hope I didn't leave anyone out?) Winning was definitely a strategic aim.

There was no certainly no mistaking her proud figurehead (protected from the cold wind with an Irish cap donated by bow man Robert White) as the fleet splashed and thrashed around the gruelling course. Moves are afoot to replicate the beast (bird not bow man) in glassfibre (or polystyrene) for, in racing trim, every ounce counts, and Loki's figurehead counts for quite a lot, right up there in the aptly named eyes of the boat. Subtle, incremental improvements are planned in the coming months after more lengthy debates in the RLBSC's mahogany-panelled board room overlooking the lovely Loch Broom.

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