Off nearby Cumbrae, home to the sportscotland National Sailing Centre, a lone boat is whipping across the waves.
The duo on board cut an unlikely pair. There's David Kohler, rising Scottish sailing star, moving lithely around, pulling with ease on the assorted ropes and pulleys. Then there's me, wearing so many layers I can barely move and throwing myself flat to the deck like a bedraggled cat every time the boom of the sail swings overhead.
Kohler, 22, who is tipped as a gold medal contender at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, has kindly offered to give me a sailing lesson ahead of this week's 470 Open European Championships in Largs.
The 470 is an Olympic class dinghy, sailed by a two-person crew. Kohler, from Edinburgh, will compete alongside teammate Phil Sparks, taking on some of the top sailors in the world including formidable Croatian duo and defending European champions Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic.
Today, though, he has a far bigger challenge on his hands: teaching me to sail. Granted, this isn't my first lesson. There was primary school excursions to Linlithgow Loch and an unsuccessful dinghy sailing debacle off the island of Mljet in Croatia where I spent most of the time begging the guy in the safety boat to tow me back to shore, convinced I had seen a serpent-like monster lurking beneath the waves.
Then there's the small matter of sea sickness. To date, I have fallen foul of my dubious inner ear on the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, as well as the Adriatic, Coral, South China, Red, Mediterranean, Tasman and North seas (a fact I tactically omit until we are out on the water, but to his credit, Kohler merely grins and tells me he's seen worse).
He runs through the basics, explaining what each of the colourful ropes coiled on the deck do.
It's a lot to take in so we rely on a simpler method of him instructing: "Pull on the purple one, grab that thick white one" which seems to work dandy.
Gregarious with a ready supply of encouraging advice, Kohler is a patient teacher – which is perhaps just as well. "Aaaaargh, I'm getting rope burn," I wail as I hold on to the main sail for grim death, red welts appearing across my palms. "You might want to put that in the cleat," he tactfully suggests. Ah yes, much better.
While I would happily sail in a straight line forever, I have to learn how to turn. There's a knot of dread of my stomach as we prepare for our first tack, a manoeuvre that involves turning the bow of the boat through the wind so the latter changes from one side to the other.
When Kohler gives the signal I release a rope on the sail, lurching across the deck in a movement about as graceful as a felled tree, to pull on another rope on the opposing side.
I misjudge the distance and slightly overshoot the side. That I don't end up in the drink is merely down to sheer luck and Kohler's good steering. My heart is thudding in my chest as I resume my precarious perch.
But the fun doesn't end there. Next we perform a jibe, the opposite of a tack, which sees the stern of the boat passing through the eye of the wind. To my untrained eye, there's little difference – all I know is that I need to duck under the sail and scamper to the other side of the dinghy – but Kohler kindly insists I'm a natural.
While today he takes on the steering duties (and pretty much everything else), Kohler usually operates the trapeze, a wire that extends from a point high on the mast and is hooked to a harness on his waist. Standing with the soles of his feet on the hull, the position gives him more leverage to keep the boat flat by using his centre of gravity to balance the force of the wind in the sails – an impressive looking feat.
Still Kohler has had plenty of practice. His debut sailing experience came on his first birthday when his father Alan took him out on a dinghy on Linlithgow Loch. He started taking lessons in earnest aged 10, began racing at 13 and has since risen steadily through the ranks.
Since teaming up with Dorset-based Sparks last July, the pair bagged 14th spot at last year's 470 European Championships and a bronze at the Under-21 World Championships.
This week Scottish sailing fans will get to see the bulk of the Olympic 470 fleet competing on home waters, a final showdown ahead of London 2012. With more than 50 leading crews set to take part, racing will take place in the channel between the mainland and Cumbrae.
Kohler points to the nearby hills and glens explaining how they affect the wind flow in the area. "I have done more sailing in Largs than anywhere," he says. "I spent several summers camping out and training on the water here as well as various competitive events, so I know there is a home advantage from that perspective. That said, I'd never take it for granted – it will be a tough world-class event.
"One of my favourite things about Largs, though, is that we will get a variety of conditions throughout the week – everything from sunshine and a light breeze to rain and strong winds. Phil and I don't have a favoured wind strength so that will suit us fine."
As for me, sadly, I don't think a 470 Olympic career lies in my future – but I may just have caught the sailing bug.
The 470 Open European Championship 2012 is at Largs, Ayrshire, from June 28 until July 4. Visit www.470europeans2012.com
Contextual targeting label: