The 40th Three Peaks Yacht Race

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White Cloud First to Fort William

Rob Howard / 21.06.2017See All Event Posts Follow Event
John Donnelly - skipper of White Cloud
John Donnelly - skipper of White Cloud / © Rob Howard

White Cloud was the first boat to arrive at Corpach in the 40th 3 Peaks Yacht Race – the finish line for the sailors, but the runners still have one more hill to climb and it’s the biggest of them all – Ben Nevis.  (It’s the shortest run but the steepest.)

White Cloud pulled in at 20.34 on an overcast Wednesday evening with heavy low cloud hovering just over the top of the mast and the lights of Fort William already shining out across Loch Linnhe, though it’s the longest day and still hours until sunset.

Their sail time was 2 days 1 hour and 39 minutes and Nicholas Donnelly said, “We had a poor sail,” we were caught in the tide off Mull of Kintyre for hours.  “Before he set off on the run Alistair Morris said the same and added, ”we did a lot of rowing!”

Skipper John Donnelly, the oldest in the race at 72, explained, “It was the same as happened to us last year and we just couldn’t get through.  We kept trying but there are several large rocks around the Mull and we couldn’t get by them.  We kept trying, going within touching distance of the shore sometimes before tacking out, but it never worked and was very frustrating.

“After that the rest caught us up and Pip came right up to us on the wind just before the Firth of Lorne.  Then she hit the hole in the wind and we found some and pulled away again. We kept at the rowing as we had to and made it through Corran Narrows, but then the wind was in and out until the finish. It always is on the final stretch!  We wish we could finish at Corran!

“I expect Martin will win the race on handicap,” he said (speaking of Martin Pound the skipper of Moby J), and he should for all sorts of reasons.”

He looked tired but happy and the crew of Nicholas Donnelly and Emma Coates were cheerfully chatting to supporters and spectators as they moved into the lock gate to enter the Caledonian Canal basin and moor up.

Once that is done they have a few hours to wait for the return of their runners and with Hare Hill now over an hour behind they are sure be first across the line and take line honours in the race.

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