The Sigmas returned to Helensburgh a year ahead of schedule for their 2017 championship on 9-11 June.

With 14 entries numbers were a little down on the event at Helensburgh in 2013, but the east, west and south coasts of England, and Ireland, were all represented along with the ever-stronger Clyde fleet which had been in action at Tarbert two weeks previously.

The scheduled four races per day were achieved on the Friday and Saturday, and close attention to start line bias and length by race officer Howard Morrison resulted in no General Recalls and no need for the black flag.

Course lengths, too, were spot on, with just one shortened course and one gap whilst the wind settled in direction.

Competitors’ nerves were, however, conspicuously jangled at the first start on Day one, with a great deal of shouting and a number of protest flags – and at the first windward mark where a strong adverse tide made rounding somewhat stressful for many.

It was Harold Hood’s “Odyssey II” that escaped the pack for a handsome win, with Allan Lennox in “Miss Behavin’” second, Mark Bradshaw in “Busy Beaver” third, and Cove’s Alan Harper fourth in “Leaky Roof II”.

Disaster struck Harper in the pre-start sequence for the second race when he was hit by a port tack boat and suffered serious damage, bringing his campaign to an end. Bradshaw won the race with Lennox second again and Hood third.

The south westerly breeze clocked north a little for races three and four, which saw Donald McLaren’s “Sigmatic” entering the pack with a win, and James Miller in “Mayrise” joining in with a first and a second after a halyard failure had wrecked race two for him.

Hood’s day too was spoiled when a top three spot in the last race was lost due to an unanswered OCS call.

Lennox was the overnight leader with Bradshaw second, and McLaren third.

Day two started damp and dreich, but with a steady easterly taking the fleet towards Ardmore.

For the only time in the event the wind suddenly collapsed as the leading boats went through the leeward gate and RO Morrison very wisely shortened course at the next windward mark – Lennox first and McLaren third, with Griogair Whyte’s “Close Encounters” second and Paul Prentice’s “Squawk” fourth.

There was then a delay ahead of the new wind filling in from the south-east. This breeze progressively strengthened for races six and seven, with Lennox booking just one more bullet while McLaren, Bradshaw and Miller collected more top three placings.

It was enough though. Race 8 threw more than 25 knots of breeze at the fleet and this didn’t suit the lighter Lennox crew.

“Squawk” and “Sigmatic” had an epic tussle with the Ballyholme boat hanging on to his lead.

Miller had more halyard fun whilst Bradshaw poked a hole in his headsail. Hood disappeared in a prize-wining mega-broach on the run.

Pretty eventful stuff, with blue sky and breaking waves setting it all in glorious colour.

But the Lennox consistency in the early races saw him hold his lead overnight – McLaren second, Miller third on countback.

And that was how it was to finish, with a strong and gusting wind forcing cancellation of the Sunday racing.

The next major event on the circuit will be at Dun Laoghaire in July, a dry run for the 2018 Championship which will be held there.

HSC gratefully acknowledges the support from Babcock, “The Botanist” gin, Tunnock’s, CRHU Chandlery, UK Sailmakers and Belhaven Brewery.

Results after eight races, one discard:

1st “Miss Behavin’” A Lennox 16 points; 2nd “Sigmatic” D McLaren 23 points; 3rd “Mayrise” J Miller 23 points, 4th “Busy Beaver” M Bradshaw 24 points; 5th “Squawk” P Prentice 30 points