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Why you need to set sail for the Round Bute Race 2017!

Why you need to set sail for the Round Bute Race 2017!
The Round Bute Race must be one of the most scenic sailing races in Scotland. Hosted annually by the Isle of Bute Sailing Club, the 45-mile route circumnavigates the beautiful island of Bute in Argyll. These are some of the best sailing grounds in the world. Islands, mountains, lochs and castles all provide a spectacular backdrop to the racing. What’s more, with a variety of classes on offer, there’s something for everyone. Set sail for the Round Bute Race and you might be bringing home a prestigious sailing trophy!

The race starts at Rothesay, Bute’s chief town and a seaside resort brimming with Victorian character, Italian cafés and good-old-fashioned shops. Depending on the wind direction, the fleet will either go clockwise or anti-clockwise round the island. You’ll see the coastline of Bute in its entirety and discover just how diverse it is, with sandy beaches, striking architecture and rolling farmland. You’ll be treated to some truly glorious scenery in all directions, from the hills of Cowal to epic views of Arran and the ‘Sleeping Warrior’, as well as Ayrshire, Kintyre and beyond. In addition, circumnavigation provides ample opportunity for all points of sailing and hopefully an exciting spinnaker hoist!

There are scenic highlights aplenty on the race route. As you round Buttock Point, the northernmost point of the Bute, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the Maids of Bute. The story goes they were painted to wave at the steamers in days gone by. When sailing through the famous Kyles of Bute and past the village of Tighnabruaich with its palm trees and Victorian villas, see if you can spot the red roof of Carry Farm, home to the Tighnabruaich Sailing School. At Garroch Head - the southern tip of Bute – the views south to Ailsa Craig and west to Arran and Kintyre are simply breath-taking. Look out for ships and submarines entering or leaving the Clyde! As you pass south east coast of Bute, you may can catch a glimpse of Mount Stuart, the spectacular neo-Gothic country house that’s the ancestral home of the Marquis of Bute.

In terms of sailing, beating through ‘the narrows’ at the Burnt Isles is always very exciting, especially if all the boats arrive at roughly the same time and the tide is against you. Watch out for the CalMac ferry, which crosses here from Rhubodach on the north-east coast of Bute to Colintraive on mainland Argyll. In the past, cattle were swum over from Bute to Colintraive on their way to market. The name Colintraive derives from Gaelic and means "swimming strait" or "swimming narrows".

You’ll have the chance to spot some wonderful wildlife as you sail around Bute. At the north end of the island, have your binoculars ready to see if you can spot the wild goats. Look out for diving gannets at the north end of Inchmarnock and the seal colony seals at Scalpsie Bay on the west coast of the island.

The Round Bute Race is judged on a handicapped basis and the race is open to all vessels, racers and cruisers, so you don't need a fast yacht to compete. It’s a very friendly affair, with a reception on the Friday evening before the race and a presentation at the end for the fastest boat. If you’re short on hands, you can even meet in the clubhouse beforehand and the organisers will even do their best to find you a crew. There are prizes for all classes and the fastest boat overall, based on adjusted time, is awarded the magnificent Marquis of Bute Trophy, which is cast in solid silver and was donated by Lord Bute.

Sounds good? The Round Bute Race, co-sponsored by Sailing & Cruising Scotland, is on Saturday 24th June at 9.30 am and there’s still time to enter. The entry fee is £30 and you need to apply by 23rd June. You can download the race notice and entry form here.

The waters around Bute offer fabulous sailing. Islands, harbours, safe anchorages and good shore-side facilities are within easy reach, while the entrance to the Crinan Canal at nearby Ardrishaig opens up the west coast and the islands beyond. Port Bannatyne Marina on Bute, a 105-berth marina, sits at the entrance to the Kyles of Bute. Nearby Tarbert Harbour on the Kintyre peninsula is one of Scotland’s most beautiful sheltered harbours, providing safe all-year round berthing. And just across Loch Fyne is the Five Gold Anchor award-winning Portavadie Marina.

Find out more about sailing and boating in Argyll & the Isles.

Photos courtesy of the Isle of Bute Sailing Club.
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