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Five Minutes Between the Leaders as they Set Off up Ben Nevis

Rob Howard / 22.06.2021Live TrackingSee All Event Posts Follow Event
The runners from That's Not My Dog prepare to come ashore at Corpach
The runners from That's Not My Dog prepare to come ashore at Corpach / © Rob Howard

After some fantastically close racing through the Scottish Islands the race leaders arrived in Fort William just 5 minutes apart.  Team Joy and That’s Not My Dog have been close by each other for most of the final 250 mile sailing leg, and it was the youngest team in the race who took the line honours for leg, by just 5 minutes.  (Joy will win the leg on handicap however.)

The two locked out of Whitehaven together and That’s Not My Dog got off to a poor start, running aground, giving Joy a lead of an hour.  It wasn’t the only problem the team had.  “We almost lost the mast at one point,” said Will Ward. “We were much slower than Joy and trying to figure out why, only then realising the port shroud was lose and bending the mast.”

The boats swapped the lead many times, to and fro through the islands and tides, and Ward said they were giving some chat to the crew on Joy, but “not getting much back.”  He said they chose to be in open water more often while Joy was inshore in back eddies, but not much separated them.

“To be racing for so long, and so closely, was unlike anything we’ve experienced before,” he said.  “You get so tired, but being in such a tight race kept us on it all the way and kept us going.”

A more serious problem for his team came when all the electrics failed as they passed the isle of Luing, and with no instruments or lights they had to sail accordingly.  They chose a safer route outside of Lismore, rather than risk the inshore channel as they would have done otherwise, and were surprised and glad Joy did too.

It allowed them the security of continuing to follow the other boat.  They’d tried to follow Joy through the night as much as possible given they had no instruments or lights, and at one point decided not to pass them.  They thought about it, then realised they wouldn’t know where they were going!

It was only after passing the Corran Narrows  on the last of the tide in the half light of a grey dawn that the Reflex took the lead, catching more tide in deeper water for long enough to get ahead.  (Ward said it was by pure luck as they had no idea of depth.)

With no engine they sailed into Corpach with the spinnaker raised for as long as possible to give them speed to come alongside the pontoon at the end of the lock, and used their oars as well.  It was all done without drama and the two runners came ashore at 04.57.  Joy was just 5 minutes behind them.

Gillies Munro and Morgan Peach were the two runners to set off up Ben Nevis for That’s Not My Dog.  Peach was their 4th runner for the Tilman Trophy competition and Ward said, “We drew straws for who would go with him.” (He’d run Snowdon and finished exhausted, and Bowerman had run Scafell Pike.) 

Now they are racing the two Royal Marines from Joy on Ben Nevis for line honours and the Daily Telegraph Trophy.  The overall win will most likely be Joy’s on handicap and That’s Not My Dog will be in pole position to win the Tilman Trophy, but the final results will depend on the handicaps of later boats.  (Bee and the Bros are in the Tilman and have a much lower handicap.)

Both sets of runners are chasing Chris Near and Mark Davies from Bare Necessities, which came into Corpach just ahead of them at 04.28. As it’s a multihull the team are not racing for overall or sailing honours, but their runners are ranked in the King of the Mountains and they are currently in second with a 37 minute deficit on the runners from Wild Spirit.

There is still a lot to be decided on the sail into the finish and on the final Ben Nevis runs.

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