Saturday, 27 November 2010

The 1931 Racing Season - Arrival of the Yellow Peril

At the start of the season the fleet was joined by two newcomers, James Buchana's Iona, no 8 and Herbert Thom's Gigha, no 9, both built by Alfred Mylne's own Bute Slip Dockyard at Ardmaleish on Bute. Thus while the first five boats had been built by McGruers the next four were all from Bute. An article in Classic Boat from 1995 stated that the two yards used identical sets of moulds for the hulls, but it would be good to have chapter and verse for this, as the article contains a number of inaccuracies, for example stating that the boats had iron keels. This is important, as it is likely that the involvement of two yards gave rise to later accusations about Gigha.
Westra, Sanda, Bernera, Cara, Gigha and Iona

Again I quote from the Glasgow Herald's end of season report:-


...Mr J H Thom dominated the Scottish Islands class with his new boat, Gigha, which had the score of 29 prizes in 33 starts, including 18 firsts. Her wins included the Bryce Allan Cup, and she also won the Coulson Points Cup. Sanda, last year's champion of the class, was the runner-up with 24 flags in 34 races. In addition she won the McBeth Points Prize at the 'Fortnight.' "

The season's records were as follows:-


                                    Starts    1st    2nd    other    total

Gigha- J H Thom              33     18     10        1         29
Sanda- W Russell             34       9     11        4         24
Westra- G Jackson           21       5       5        4         14
Bernera- R K Sharp          31       1       1      10         12
Cara- Dr Christie              28        1       5       3           9
Iona- James Buchanan      31       1       1       4           6
Fidra- W Wordie               20       1       1       2           4

Following the Bryce Allan competition in August The Field commented:-

"This [The race from Hunter's Quay to the Kyles of Bute] is one of the most popular events of the Clyde racing season. All the yachts competed on a general handicap for the trophy, and each boat from the smallest to the largest had a sporting chance of success, and Gigha's victory was gained by the narrowest margin, as she saved her time from Mr W F Robertson's 8-metre Caryl, which was conceding her 1 hr 7 min 12 sec, by only 1 1/2 min over a course of 24 miles...."

And in  October the anonymous Clyde Notes commented:-

"...Mr J H Thom, with his new boat Gigha was signally successful throughout the season, so much so that the varnished racer- the only one in the class- earned the nickname of "The Yellow Peril." The Islands Class is one-design, and I cannot credit the scarcely veiled suggestions in some quarters that Gigha was something different from the others. Rather do I favour the view that Mr Thom is too good for a local class and would be more in place, as he was last year, in the 6-metre lot."
winning flags 1931

Many years ago I was told, I can't remember by whom, that Gigha was secretly examined after she was laid up for the winter and that her mast was weighed, but no discrepancies found. However the rumbles and rumours were to continue over the next two seasons until Herbert Thom took some decisive action, as we shall see in a future post.

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