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Fun Day at Levenhall 12th August 2006

Race Officer Sandy McArthur (right) and Richard Ennos (left) with the Alec Chalmers trophy

In August 2005 Levenhall RYC celebrated the 90th birthday of club member Alex Chalmers and a new trophy was presented to Alex to commemorate theoccasion. At the time it was decided that the cup should be sailed for annually on the Saturday closest to Alex’ birthday, using a handicap based on skipper’s age. However it was racing secretary Sandy McArthur who recognised an opportunity to expand the concept and stage a completely different kind of event that emphasised the sheer pleasure of sailing model yachts in the company of friends and family. The idea of the Levenhall Fun Day was born.

The week before the event saw Levenhall members scouring attics and workshops, blowing the dust from model yachts that had lain neglected for years, preparing them once more for action. There was also considerable activity in the members’ kitchens to ensure that competitors and spectators had plenty to sustain them on the day. Shortly before 10am on August 12th the diverse fleet of model yachts began to arrive at the pond. Alex Chalmers, looking forward to his 91st birthday on the following day, managed to pack five different yachts into his postman Pat van. They included a craft of his own design, constructed from the wood of an apple tree that had originally been planted by his daughter. Sandy McLaren and Jim Nicolson resurrected a pair of vintage Marbleheads that they had formerly raced on Inverleith pond, while Tom Milne and Richard Ennos brought Six Metre designs from the 1990s and 1950s respectively. However star of the show was a huge schooner built by Eoin Robertson whose hull incorporated the bow and stern from an old Marblehead, but which was otherwise completely original in concept. The yacht was so large that it required two strong adults to lift it into the water, and there was some speculation as to whether it would be capable of carrying a small passenger. The schooner was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Inverleith club in Edinburgh, and had only been sailed before on a handful of occasions.

After ascertaining the (alleged) ages of each skipper the race officer and master of ceremonies, Sandy McArthur explained the format of the first event, which had been kept a dark secret. The Alex Chalmers trophy was to be sailed for in One Metres, with each skipper receiving a handicap equivalent to (100 – Age)/5 points for each race. However there was an unexpected twist - skippers would not sail their own boats, but over the course of the race would sail every other yacht in turn. A relatively short course was set and three races were completed before lunch, some minor teething troubles being experienced as skippers changed yachts between races.

After lunch the much anticipated open event took place. The flotilla of yachts, of all sizes and ages, made a wonderful sight as they set off across the line. It was clear from the start that the schooner, with her long waterline length and copious sail area, was by far the fastest, but perhaps not the most manoeuvrable, of the competitors. She lost the lead after a coming together with Tom Milne’s Six Metre, but recovered to accelerate spectacularly past the Six Metre as she caught a puff of wind to win by a couple of metres.  

Following a further three races for the Alex Chalmers trophy, Sandy McArthur organised the twelve competitors into three teams of four, under the captaincy of the three most senior members in the club – John Dewar, Jim Nicolson and Alex Chalmers. The team captains each took the first leg of a relay race, the subsequent member of the team attempting to make their start immediately after their captains had crossed the finish line. The lead changed hands on a number of occasions, but in the end the team of John Dewar, Eoin Robertson, Sandy McArthur and Tom Milne took the honours. Following a round of cakes Sandy McArthur shut himself away in his car to sort out the winner of the Alex Chalmers trophy while further One Metre racing and socialising took place. The event was rounded off with the award of medals to Eoin Robertson, winner of the open race and to the winning relay team. The Alex Chalmers trophy was won by Richard Ennos, though there remains some doubt about whether he was completely honest about his age. Sandy McArthur was warmly congratulated for organising such an enjoyable event that lived up to all expectations. Sandy in turn wished Alex Chalmers many happy returns of his forthcoming birthday

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