Competition is plain sailing for new group

Richard Ennos with one of his boats. Pics: FPA
Richard Ennos with one of his boats. Pics: FPA

Skippering a radio controlled yacht may seem like a great way to relax, but it’s a lot more difficult than it looks!

And when the wind is up and the boats are scudding around the buoys it’s easy to get the sense of excitement and the allure of racing the model boats, which mirror their full-sized counterparts in miniature.

Tom Milne

Tom Milne

Kinghorn Radio Sailing Club, which started six months ago, is hoping to attract new members to the sport which has seen a growing following around the UK, and anyone interested can visit Kinghorn Loch on Saturdays between noon and 4.00 p.m. to find out more.

On a sunny Thursday morning, with just a breath of wind, I went along to see what it was all about, and was greeted by 10 enthusiasts gathered around the lochside, with several members making the trip from the Edinburgh and Tayside clubs for the chance to race around a special course marked by numbered buoys.

The Kinghorn group was formed by three former yacht sailors, who decided the loch was the ideal place to sail their model radio controlled vessels.

They had previously had to travel outwith Fife to compete.

The loch offers ideal conditions – it’s lovely and quiet and not too sheltered

Sandy Mackay

Sandy Mackay (73), from Kirkcaldy, one of the founder members, explained: “The loch offers ideal conditions – it’s lovely and quiet and not too sheltered, so you can get a good wind for racing.

“We have our own designated slot on a Saturday afternoon and there is usually just us and a few fishermen on the opposite side of the loch, so it is ideal.

“We have a regular eight members, but ideally we would like to attract more as it is always better for racing if you have more.”

Radio-controlled sailing uses the same principles as actual sailing, except the boats are controlled from the shore by a radio transmitter.

The boats are one metre in length and can be made from special kits, with hulls of either glass fibre or wood.

Each yacht has three sets of sails which are used depending on the wind conditions – large sails for light winds, medium for moderate and small for higher winds.

It is not a cheap sport, although non-competitive boats can be bought from £200.

However, to participate at a competitive level they start at around £1000.

You can’t beat messing about on the water!

There are currently around 10 radio controlled boating clubs around Scotland and most welcome others along to join them, so if people are willing to travel, they could spend a lot of their time on the water!

As well as racing against each other and any visiting boats at club meetings, the clubs can visit others and participate in competitions and there are also national and international events.

The World Championships were recently held in the USA where the British team held on to its top position.

Thomas Milne (70), from Mid Calder told the Press he loved coming to Kinghorn to sail.

“I really enjoy coming here as there are no screaming kids to interrupt,” he explained. “I have been sailing for about 30 years now and the boat I have today I bought from Croatia, with the hull alone costing £1400.

“It is great fun racing these boats and there is a bit of skill involved when there are strong winds and lots of boats to compete against. It can be quite thrilling.”

Richard Ennos (60), from Edinburgh, added: “We race behind Musselburgh Race Course, but we love to come here in the summer because it is a lovely place to sail.

“The peace and quiet coupled with the wonderful wildlife here is just great, and you get a great view of the sailing at all times, which you sometimes don’t get at other venues.

“I used to sail in Hampton Court Park in London as a teenager and I got back into it again when my family grew up.”

Last weekend the club participated in a competition at Forfar Loch, but this Saturday they will be back at Kinghorn Loch, and anyone who is interested in finding out more is welcome to go along from noon.