Tradition was broken for the first time ever at the weekend when the Sandwick regatta was held at Aith Voe Pier in Cunningsburgh due to the anticipated restoration of the historic stone pier at Sandsayre. Due to the much easier passage by sea, three of the Sandwick Maids set of from Sandsayre for the first Friday night race.
With a gradually easing easterly wind, the maids started at the “week” buoy on a beat across the tidal run to Mousa, a long broad reach down to a gybe off Cunningsburgh and then a reach back to the “week” buoy. After another beat to Mousa the finish was set just outside the Aith Voe entrance.
After forming a lead halfway through, Streaker was first with Ian Bray at the helm. Adrian Wishart was second in Skalva and Ian Adamson in third place with Sulair. The three Maids then ghosted into Aith Voe under a blinding sun set and gentle air to their new temporary home in Cunningsburgh.
Saturday began with a few unforeseen problems that unfortunately delayed the sailing programme, and thanks must go to all the patience of the boat crews in the meantime. The expected south-easterly wind turned out to be an easterly which made for awkward sailing around the traditional Sandwick course.
Two able seamen deftly took to the sea armed with buoys, ropes and weights to set a new course to suit the conditions. It is believed that this was another first in history with the traditional course being abandoned for another. A faulty starting boat didn’t help but was overcome as Andrew Stout provided his boat for starting and finishing for the day.
In the meantime the younger sailors took to the water for the Mirror dinghy races. A new challenge was presented to the young crews who had to negotiate a tight course set within Aith Voe itself. Dodging shaalds, mooring buoys and boats, close competition was fought for on the short course.
Callum Macgregor’s experience showed though as the eventual winner of all three races in Nautilus Seamew. Of the rest of the skippers, Michaela Peterson’s placing were second, second and third in Seamew; Kerry Macgregor’s placing were second, second and third in Mousa and Kirsty Laurenson had three fourth places in Noness. The steady improvement and the close racing of the young Mirror sailors had been noted by an experienced pierhead skipper.
Five dinghies set off to the mouth of Aith Voe to start their first race around the new course in a moderate easterly wind with a reasonably choppy sea to make things interesting. A beat east to Helliness was followed by a close reach west off Crussie Geo and an even closer reach to just off the “Dod” skerry. This was followed by another beat to Heliness, run to Dod and beat to the finish at Helliness.
Some close racing ensued with Steven Brown taking first in the Albacore Storm. Second was Maggie Adamson in the Laser Maximus Spreeus and third was Brian Wishart in the Flying Fifteen All or Nothing.
Meanwhile the Sandwick Maids had started on the same course after the dinghies. Ian Bray took first in Streaker, John Mouat took second in Zig Zag and Ian Adamson was third in Sulair.
A warm lunch was prepared on the barbecue by Gordon and Marlyn Munro who along with many others always contribute a lot to the shore based activities of the regatta. Yvonne Macgregor and Ann Mason maintained the land sports tradition in the afternoon which is always popular, although on more bumpy land than usual perhaps.
The afternoon saw the final races for the maids and the dinghies, with an additional Laser arriving to increase the dinghy competition. With the wind at a similar strength and direction, the second dinghy race had Storm first closely followed by All or Nothing in second and Maximus Spreeus third.
The third and final dinghy race for a “liquid” prize saw All or Nothing finding her form to get first with Storm second and Maximus Spreeus third.
The Sandwick Maids had been racing close behind the dinghies and the second race had some particularly close sailing with Streaker and Zig Zag jostling for the lead with the odd exchange of opinion between boats on each pass. Eventually Zig Zag took first, Streaker second and Sulaire third. The final Maids race was cancelled to be sailed for later in the season due to falling wind and lack of time.
Following on from last year’s success, teams of four gathered to row the Sandwick yoal against the clock to see who was fastest around the course. Eight teams entered with all kind of crew combinations.
A course was set within the voe using the mooring buoys which gave plenty of corners for the rowers to negotiate. The now windless sea meant the speed was unhampered allowing some close times for the crowd to watch which by now included the fishermen who had returned from the Cunningsburgh eela competition.
The Trouble Makers team had the fastest time of three minutes 17 seconds which made team captain Ryan Munro very happy as he victoriously danced around holding the winner’s shield aloft.
The regatta ended with a disco at the Sandwick Social Club bringing another event to a close. The club would like to thank everyone who lent a hand in the preparation and running of the regatta and hope to see everyone and more next year. The club would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Aith Voe Pier Trust and Aith Voe Marina Committee for accommodating the club during the 2010 season.