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      Sailing spectator Scottish style

      31st May 

      I'm exhausted.  I'm physically and mentally shattered and yet I have hardly left my chair. Why?  My
      Third night at sea
      husband has been involved in the most challenging sailing and fell running race. He began on Friday at noon, did not stop and finished on the Monday afternoon.  What's it all about and why am I shattered? 

      I began writing this whilst they were mid race and started by writing the post thus: 

      Grab a coffee and help me stay awake, if I disappear for a moment every 30 minutes or so, do excuse as I am trying to see where his latest position is, let me explain...

      But I was not able to concentrate on blog writing whilst also trying to keep track of them so here is their race in Scotland now that they have thank goodness successfully completed it.

      Race briefing
      Normally our boat Brimble is kept in the south of England but for the past three years she has made her way with help from us! to Arctic Norway and now is currently on her homeward journey via Scotland and Ireland.  Whilst in Scotland we thought  John thought it would be a great idea to compete in the Scottish Islands Peak Race.  Not really knowing what is was other than a bit of sailing and running, both of which he does regularly I told him to go for it.  Umm, had I realised I wonder if I would have been so keen or encouraged him as much...

      Fast and furious sailing to begin
      The race takes place over several days non stop and involves difficult sailing navigation and strong tides, passing by the third largest whirlpool, Corryvreckan in the world and sailing close to the Mull of Kintyre made famous by the Rod Stewart song but known to have strong currents and dangerous outfalls for boats.  On top of that the race involved climbing Ben More, the highest mountain on the inner Hebrides, the Paps of Jura and Goatfell on Arran.  All this takes place non stop and as the organisers of this race were heard to say on BBC radio Scotland,  the category called 'all rounders' generally consisted of nutters as the crew on board have to do everything both sail, run  and try and get some sleep in-between.  Other classes in the race had sailors for the sailing and runners for the running, but not my husband and team, oh no, they were one of 5 boats who chose to enter the all rounders' class.

      This year the organisers insisted that all boats had trackers on them and that runner could if they so wished use the tracker whilst running also.  Not all boats decided to carry the tracker on their hill runs but after the first run and sail when Brimble, the smallest and oldest boat in the race were in a time frame of their own and so ended up running all the mountains mostly in the dark, the organisers insisted that a tracker be carried at all times.  For me as the armchair spectator it meant that I could see where Brimble and her  crew were 24 hours a day.  The yellow brick tracker as it was called was refreshed every half an hour and so consequently I refreshed the computer page so I could follow them in almost real time.  Below is a speeded up version of the yellow brick tracker.  Boats that you see are stationary are some that have had to retire for various reasons.

      On returning home my husband began to explain how they started to climb Goatfell at about 4am, I know I responded, I was there with you refreshing the page... this is why I am shattered and the house looks like a bomb site...

      Injuries in this race are not uncommon and many boats have to retire.  Of the 38 that began only 29 completed the race.  One poor chap fell on Mull in difficult wet and dark conditions and had to be helicopted to the mainland and under went surgery.  I'm surprised more were not injured.

      Second race was on Mull and conditions were 'horrendous'
      according to the tweets that were flying around. 

      Visibility on Mull became like pea soup

      One boat retired after the run on Mull which by all accounts seems to have been hellish.  They write as their reason for retiring from the race as, we can see we are only a few miles from the distillery at Tobermoray so are going to make our way there after this hellish run.

      The odd run was conducted in daylight

      Having climbed one large mountain/hill, there was time for
      a quick stop to look at the next climb!

      Scotland at it's best

      The bluebells were still out

      Having spent much longer on some of the runs than anticipated mainly due to the bad weather and night time running it meant that Brimble and crew were having to sail against the tide, they had missed the tidal gate and made for slow painful sailing progress, it could be said they were pushed backwards for a while.  At this point another boat retired as they couldn't be bothered to battle the tidal gate and turned round and sailed home.

      Light house in the Sound of Luing, here the boat missed
      the tidal gate and almost moved backwards for several hours
      No engines allowed in this race.  Runners rowing
      to shore to begin their running leg

      After strong winds and rain, being pushed backwards by missing the tidal gate having completed three of the four runs, the wind died down and there was not a whisper to be had.  Out came the newly purchased wooden oars and the crew had to row as no engines are allowed.  By this time everyone was almost exhausted.  Another boat retired at this point stating being becalmed with so many more miles to sail meant they had had enough.

      Becalmed at night and so it was time to bring out the
      3m long oars and row the 28 foot sail boat

      With strong winds and rain battering down, one boats mainsail ripped and so they had to retire from the race also.  Small but steady Brimble soldiered on.

      The weather was often not kind

      Having completed running up and down the
      3 Paps of Jura, it was time for the sail to Arran
      Light house on Mull of Kintyre, the sea was rough and 
      outfalls  difficult & yes they did play the
      Rod Stewart song as they sailed past

      Another boat retired at this point as they needed to push on and get in so as to be able to allow crew members to get back to work as the race had taken longer than anticipated.  Their engine fired up, they motor sailed to the finish.

      Being the smallest boat in the race, there was not actually
      enough sleeping bunks for all.  It was a tight squeeze

      All sorts of weather was experienced

      Whilst sailing the easiest food to eat is that which can be cooked
      quickly, fits into a bowl and can be eaten with only a fork

      Another night time approaches

      Steep hill climbs with loose rocks everywhere, dangerous
      running, especially when conducted mostly at night

      Stunning scenery but can you spot our runner?

      In the anchorage of Jura one boat had to retire as they were quoted as being a 'bit too friendly with some rocks'. What they meant by that was that the sailing navigation of this race is difficult and they hit underwater rocks and their keel fell off!

      Oh yes, all three need to be climbed

      By this last race John said everyone was utterly exhausted.  Little sleep had been had by any of them and they had all been pushed to their limits.  They completed the run and sailed to the finish line at Troon, south  west of Glasgow.  Celebratory beers and dinner was had with one crew member falling asleep before the main arrived and awoke to the pudding!

      Top of Goatfell on Arran, half way through the last climb

      All throughout the race twitter was alive with the arm chair spectators like me fascinated by the yellow brick tracking system and cheering on all the boats.  Camaraderie was strong and supportive and even though I was not racing was made to feel part of the group.  The penultimate tweet from the organisers on cheering the last boat home, Brimble read:

      SIPR @SIPeaksRace May 23
      It's Brimble! With a finishing time of 15:13:28. Hooray!

      Would John do it again?  Indeed if Brimble were to find herself in Scotland at the right time of year, the answer was a resounding yes.  Despite having had terrible weather at times and little sleep, John felt the race was extremely well organised and he loved it in a challenging sadistic way.  Me?  I'll stick to arm chair spectating and engaging in the social media whirr that took place unbeknown to sailors and runners alike. 


      1. Oh my! That is certainly an amazing accomplishment. I can't imagine how much energy and skill it takes for all that. And running at night would certainly be quite scary. They should all be very proud that they finished.

        1. Not sure if they are proud Tammy more delighted they finished when others didn't. I on the other hand am very proud

      2. I'm exhausted just reading about it! What an incredible achievement. I hope they're all very proud of themselves :)

      3. I'd be very stressed too! Well done to your hubby. Sounds like quite the adventure!

        1. Jen he loved it. They are cooking up the next idea already...

      4. That's brilliant, well done. So glad you could join in the excitement but be safe and warm at home. Wonderful photos. x

        1. Karen I was delighted to follow at arms length let me tell you ;)

      5. Can't even imagine taking part in such a race, scary!

      6. Huge congratulations to both of you. It must have been exhausting being an armchair spectator too. What an amazing experience it must have been, yet I can never quite imagine having any desire to put myself through anything like that. Fantastic photographs. X

        1. Jules. Totally agree it has no appeal to me whatsoever. Love to sail in Scotland. Love to walk. But when I saw all the loose rocks they had to fell run over also even that wouldn't tempt me for a walk leg alone a night run!!! Armchair was best for me x

      7. What an amazing achievement, congratulations. I would have had to be an armchair spectator too, although I guess that didn't come without some trauma, well done.

        1. It truly is an amazing achievement. There are a couple of boats who have tried to complete this race for a few years and so far have been thwarted manamercantile

      8. Good grief! And he did this for fun, you say?!

        1. I know Phil. Nutters all of them total nutters.

      9. Your story is really exhausted...but.. it's such big adventure! such beautiful views! And it's understanding how strong you are... I'm not sure, but may be it worth such suffering.

        1. I think Lilah they thought it was worth it. Very tiring but worthwhile. Thanks for stopping by to comment. X


      I will always read all comments and will try to reply but it may take me a couple of days, do please pop back and lets get a conversation going...