The Glasgow Grouse – What makes a great sailing event?

by Chris Kameen on October 26, 2015

Glasgow_grouse_2015, photo by Marc TurnerThis weekend I have just attended my first University organised team racing event in over 10 years and it was epic! 20 teams, great craic, decent boats, well organised, well attended. So it got me thinking what makes a great team racing event?

The Weather?

As I was driving the 5 hours north in blustery rain and the temperature reading 6 degrees, I was questioning my sanity and whether my Aussie kit would stand the rigours! But the weather played ball, we only had a little bit of rain and the wind was never above 15 knots… but the water temperature…. wow! THAT was cold.. I put my hand in to put my rudder down and promised self that we wouldn’t capsize.. Fear is a great motivator! Weather might have something to do with it… but not much

The Location?

Bardowie Loch, just outside Glasgow is surrounded by tree and rolling hills making giant wind shifts a normal and one that you have to deal with . A 1,2,3 was never safe until you had crossed the finish line. This would have had many sea sailors pulling their hair out claiming it was unfair and that you can’t race on such a ‘pond’. But to my mind this is just a co-incidental impact of sailing close to the city.. so what was it?

The boats?

Fireflies are great team racing boats, 4 flights of matched boats that even the most tired flight were infinitely better than the boats that we used to race when I first started. Matched boats, coloured sails, everything works, A bosun who was fixing things. This certainly adds to a great event. 4 flights of boats was an awesome effort. 12 of them were trailered in by the students in hired vans on big trailers.

Sailing with friends?

Hanging out with old friends is a huge part of sailing for me. Seeing friends that I hadn’t seen in nearly 10 years was brilliant, you never run out of things to talk about, it is also quite weird to see that they have gone on to be pillars of the community. A far cry from our student days! People that don’t sail might arrange to catch up for dinner, well dinner was something we did between sailing and partying. My feet haven’t stuck to the floor in a student union bar for a long time. It was brilliant. Sailing with friends is getting closer..

Student Organised.

Photo by Marc TurnerI’m not sure how many Glasgow Uni students were involved in the organisation of the event but over the weekend I would say there were more than 30 volunteering to help run the event – sitting on cold open day boats, blowing whistles, recording results, manning umpire boats, ferrying teams out to the change over raft, making lunches.. It was immense and the amazing thing was these helpers also seemed to be loving it. I’m certain that some would have preferred to have been sailing, but many seemed to be enjoying the craic. What I found brilliant was that there didn’t appear to be any organisational involvement from ‘old people’, they managed it themselves. These guys have worked out a formula of getting old boy teams, schools and other universities to help them fund their sailing. They have brought money into Uni sailing allowing them to improve their boats and have more fun.. That is smart, I wish the student sailors in Australia could see this in action, they don’t realise how lucky they are!

In Numbers….

students_organised_glasgow_grouse_2015University is as much about learning life skills as anything else, and for these students at Glasgow to have learnt how to put on a sailing event and manage it’s smooth running is brilliant. It has worried me that over the last couple of years I have gained the impression that events were being run by fewer and fewer people and that we becoming ever slicker and more expensive. I was concerned that sailors were becoming molly coddled and reliant upon passionate volunteers  in their 50’s and 60’s to run events. But this event has brought a smile and a sense of relief. To give you an idea the event  involved 120 competitors, 6 umpires, 20 odd volunteers, 24 sailing boats, 6 powerboats, 140 + races, a Cailegh, accommodation, and food for everyone. The average age of the organiser and volunteer would have been around 20 years old.

This was a huge, huge effort and I am really impressed, sailing is in great hands. I hope I can come again next year to defend our title!


Photos by Marc Turner:  Marc Turner Photography

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