Australian race sailor looking to crew in Fife Regatta

Mark Riley is an experienced classic yacht race crew who has raced in Fife Yachts in Australia for twenty years – from 6 metre yachts to those over 70 ft.

He sails classic yachts every week in Sydney and owns a 1928 beauty himself, which is sailed every Wednesday. Classic Boat Magazine gave the Fife 6 metre he races in every week an award as Restoration of the Year – and Mark’s business currently has another Fife going in for a major restoration.

Mark desperately wants a billet on one of the Fife yachts taking part in the Fife Regatta at the end of this month – from 28th June to 5th July.

In addition to his great reserve of sailing and racing experience in all sorts of Australian and overseas waters, he says: ‘ I am fit, agile, polite and work very hard whilst on deck – and I crew for free’.

Proof of the man’s commitment to the Fifes and to being in the thick of this regatta is that Mark has booked his flights to be at the event in the hope that a crew position may be available. Talk about a long haul punt – you have to hand it to him for determination.

Mark has been writing letters to Fife folk all over the world to try to get a crew place for the regatta – and certainly the Australian culture of easy good natured openness and teamwork has to be a factor in his favour.

If anyone can offer this determined Fife sailor a crew place on a boat for the event – email him:

The Fife Regatta – start planning to see it

The Fife yachts, celebrated for their sheer beauty,  were designed by Ayrshire’s William Fife and mainly built at the Fairlie yard. Fife began designing yachts when  he was 20, in about 1877 and by the end of the 19th century had designed around 220 of them, from ½ Raters to two America’s cuppers – the two Shamrocks for Sir Thomas Lipton. The Fife yacht emblem of the dragon and wheat sheaf seems to date from the 1890’s.

This 2013 event will be some spectacle for classic boat aficionados, sailors and landlubbers alike. Work out your best place to catch them – with some suggestions from us below.

Sunday 30th June

Starting at 11.00 off Largs Yacht Haven, the fleets will race from Largs into Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. The smaller boats will race a fairly direct route while the bigger ones go up to turn off either Wemyss Bay or Inverkip, depending on weather conditions -  and then head to Rothesay, rounding Toward Point in Cowal.

Views of the  smaller boat fleet coming in should be spectacular anywhere from Ascog round the shore road into Rothesay itself. Craigmore should give great views of both fleets on their approaches and the entrance to Rothesay Bay; and Port Bannatyne must be expecting a flotilla for the night at the marina there.

Monday 1st July

The combined fleet cruises from Rothesay in the morning – no set time – through the Kyles of Bute and into Tighnabruaich in Cowal for lunch. They have a careful piece of navigation to do, through the shallows at the Burnt Islands in the East Kyle. We have enquired about the movement of the CalMac shuttle ferry across the narrows between Colintraive on the south Cowal mainland and Rhubodach on Bute and will make that known when we get the information.

The grounds of the Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park just north west of Colintraive run down to the shore, level with the Burnt Isles – offering a great view of the Fifes as they come through and an opportunity to see the sculptures tucked away in all sorts of areas of the lovely grounds. Sounds very much like a picnic day.

Being at Caol Ruadh will also bring a surreal image. As these magnificent classic yachts come through the Burnt Isles under sail, a gigantic metal marine lizard, powering over Pulpit Rock just offshore Caol Ruadh’s beach, may feel tempted to reach for them.

The community-owned Rhubodach forest area, just along form the Rhubodach ferry terminal looks like another good vantage point to see the fleet weave its way through the top of the Kyles.

Tignabruaich will, of course, have a fabulous view with the entire fleet coming in for lunch. It will be in full party fig with all sorts of festivities in the village, hosted in conjunction with the great Argyll’s Secret Coast website – a street party with local food, games including a tug-o-war and a St Ayles skiff rowing race. And the front of the Tignabruaich Hotel is the venue for a local producers’ market.

Tuesday 2nd July

Next morning, the fleets do the Loch Fyne Race, leaving Kames Bay, just south of Tighnabruaich, at 11.00, and racing to the spectacular resort at Portavadie Marina, with the bigger boats adding a leg south inland round Inchmarnock island off north east Bute before turning north west for Portavadie; and the smaller ones staying inshore rounding Ardlamont Point into Loch Fyne.

The Ardlamont Estate’s Coach House Cafe looks like a good place for enticing refreshments before talking advantage of their special provision of a pony and trap ride to the estate’s private beach to see the Fifes come by on the way up to Portavadie. The estate also has a walk to the beach if the pony and trap is oversubscribed.

Portavadie Marina itself, as the point of arrival like Tighnabruaich on Monday, with with refreshments of all kinds available all day in its two tier restaurant/bar, its Lodge Cafe and with its promenade deck, will be a front seat vantage point absolutely certain to offer a view of the fleets coming in. And if you’ve never been there, trust us, it is very much more of a hit on y0ur stupendous register than its current website suggests.

Wednesday 3rd July

This a day off for boats and crews – which means that Portavadie Marina is again the place to be for an uninterrupted sight of these graceful classic yachts at rest. Some may well sail off for a tootle across Loch Fyne to the Tobermory-rivalling picturesque bayside village of Tarbert; or perhaps across the top of Kilbrannan Sound and into Lochranza on Arran.

Thursday 4th July

Back to work for the participants today. Starting at 11.00 off Portavadie Marina, The But Race takes the fleets south of Inchmarnock island on an inshore route down the south west shores of Bute, rounding  Garroch Head in the south and turning to port to race between the Cumbrae islands and into Largs Yacht Haven. The best places to see them will be on the south west of Inchmarnock Island, at Ardscalpsie Point or from a tramp west to the coast from the road south to the beautiful St Blane’s Chapel in the south of Bute.

And don’t forget about Mark Riley. If we all put our minds to it, he might be aboard one of the Fifes, revelling in the fantastic sailing grounds of Argyll in which so much of this great event takes place.

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