This week is the 75th Anniversary Loch Long Week regatta at Cove Sailing Club near Helensburgh. The stakes? Nothing less than a country's honour.
Of the 25 Loch Long One-Design yachts racing, seven have made the 500-mile trek from Aldeburgh Yacht Club in Suffolk. With pennants flying beneath grey July skies, the sailors will duel, using their racing guile to harness wind and tide in their favour.
Every competitor will have an eye on ensuring the club average trophy either remains on Scotland's west coast or heads to East Anglia. However, the individual racing is what it's about. And it is fierce. These classic 21ft yachts may look elegant, but there is no quarter given either by those at the helm or their crews.
Of the starting line up, five of the yachts have won overall in the last 25 years – three of them have achieved it more than once. Duncan Farquhar in Sula lifted the trophy six times, while Mark Bradshaw with Pamina has enjoyed three victories since 2007. Angus Robertson's Cariad won twice with previous owner John MacDonald.
Only one of the starting yachts comes from the original 1937 batch – Scirocco, sail number 6, owned by Aldeburgh's Mark O'Hare; the newest boat to line up, also from Suffolk, is Tantrum, from 2003, owned by Jonathon Evans.
In these 75 years, 13 boatyards, including four in Suffolk, have built Loch Longs. In 1991, 22 years after the last Loch Long was launched on the Clyde at William Boag's yard at Largs, the International Boat Building College at Lowestoft crafted a brand new one – Mosquito, sail number 135. Aldeburgh Boatyard has since added a further five and build will soon start on Loch Long 142.
While the Clyde class has dwindled from racing fleets at Gourock and Largs, amongst others, to just Cove, those from Aldeburgh, while limited to one club, has grown and grown. From the mid-1980s, with the Suffolk club eager to build its fleet and many Scottish owners only too happy to sell for inflated south-coast prices, the clubs at Cove, Gourock and Aldeburgh began to enjoy a close relationship.
In the beginning it was all about Aldeburgh yachts making the journey to pay homage on the Clyde – and usually to get cuffed by the wily locals. But, every three years now, the Cove boats venture south to take on the English on their patch, the River Alde, affectionately known by those Scottish adventurers as The Ditch.
470 EURO CHAMPS Scots Anna Burnet and Flora Stewart, the youngsters of the fleet in the 470 European Championships at Largs, won their first senior Medal race yesterday to finish the event sixth overall. On another day of changing conditions the Scots made a good decision at the start, correctly judging the left shifting wind to get ahead of the whole fleet.
"From there we were always in a controlling position," said Burnet. "After we rounded the windward mark first then we just had to keep our lead from then, which we managed.
"It was nice to win the Medal race with a bit of a lead and it's nice and it was a good experience for us to be in the Medal race in a senior event."
Women's Champions were Britain's Sophie Ainsworth and Sophie Weguelin, who finished two points ahead of Slovenia's Tina Mrak and Teja Cerne.
The men's Medal race was abandoned after two failed attempts to complete a race in falling winds. Using Friday's standings to determine the final outcome Croatia's Sime Fantela and Igor Ben Saxton retain the Europeans title, ahead of Britain's Ben Saxton and Richard Mason in silver position. Russian brothers Mikhail and Maxim Sheremetyev took bronze.
The Scot-Anglo team of David Kohler and Philip Sparks finished fifth overall, frustrated at not having the opportunity to complete the race.