Aled Rees and Adrian Bailey reach the finish line of an epic race.

The Winners Are In.
June 18th Fort William

At 23.20 on Monday night 'Lightning Reflex' glided over the dark waters of Loch Linnhe and motored up to the mooring at Corpach, just outside Fort William. In driving rain and a rising gale Adrian Bailey and Aled Rees leapt ashore to start their final run and to complete the race in a record breaking time. After a quick kit check they were away up Ben Nevis, the last and highest of the 3 peaks.

After they'd gone Ken Fitzpatrick said, "Well we've made it. We've got 3 sails left, we've broken the boom and lost a sail bag over the side." In the cockpit he pointed to the piles of ropes and said, "mind the snake pit" , then tapped the boom and said, this is usually attached! Down below Geoff West was starting to sort out the sails. A spinnaker had been thrown onto the floor and the forward cabin, now a sail locker there was a jumble of tangled and torn sails.

"I've been out in a Force 10 before," West said, "but that's the first time I've chosen to go out in one. When we went through the lock gate at Whitehaven we knew we were committed as there wasn't enough water on the falling tide for us to get back in. I thought about not going, but we were running before the wind."
"At the worst the waves were 20 feet and we were surfing down them faster than the wind, that's when the boom broke. My first thought was 'how do we get out of this', but we coped and managed to rig the main. Ken took the helm in the really rough seas, he's had trans Atlantic experience and was brilliant. I left him to it and took over when he got tired and the winds dropped. He was on the Trimaran that set the fastest time ever in this race and we were comparing our times - we weren't far off either."
"No one has been seasick at all so the boys are in good shape for the run and it looks like they are going to win the 'King of the Mountains' title too, so we'll have won all but the second sailing leg." He was talking before Bailey and Rees returned but outside the weather was still appalling so their last run wasn't a formality. Climbing Ben Nevis in a howling gale at night can never be taken for granted!"

No one was going to sleep until they were back safely and the race won, and just after 02.30 news came through they were down and on their way back to the lock basin. The crew and a small crowd of supporters, race officials and media waited in the darkness on the waterside for their return and at 03.47 they crossed the line to win and set a new race record of 2 days 14 hours and 22 minutes.

Rees had limping on the way down having injured his knee and Bailey said, "Conditions were terrible, we couldn't see 20 feet and it's really hard to find your way up there. The wind nearly blew us over and it was raining hard. We're glad to be back down. Doing the race so fast makes it harder for us. We did the first 2 runs in 24 hours and all 3 within 2 and a half days." Even so they'd taken only 4 hours 22 minutes on Ben Nevis, and have won the King of the Mountains title too, as no one can now beat their combined time of 14 hours 56 minutes.

Lightning Reflex

Aled Ress

Adrian Bailey

 


Geoff West



Ken Fitzpatrick


David Jones


 

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