All eyes are on the clock as Lightning
Reflex wait the return of their runners from Scafell
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16th Whitehaven 20.15
Time and tide wait for no one and Lightning Reflex took
their departure from Whitehaven right to the limit. Their
runner arrived back from the Scafell leg with just enough
time to get Lightning away through the harbour sea lock.
Another few minutes and they would have been forced to wait
until 00.30 tomorrow and the advantage brought by the team
efforts to get here in front of the fleet would have been
wasted. Skipper Geoff West is now in a dominant position
to take the race again.
The Race for the Gate
When the runners from the 2 leading yachts set off on the
long journey to the top of Scafell Pike they knew they had
a tight deadline to meet. Because of the tides in the lock
gate on the marina they had to be back by 20.15 for their
boats to be able to go straight out to sea again. Any later
and they would be trapped until 00.30 on Monday morning.
This meant they would have to beat the record of 7 hours
13 minutes for the mountain stage to make their deadline,
and do it against driving winds, rain, hail and with almost
zero visibility on the hills. None of the runners has seen
anything of the mountains theyéve climbed yet, apart from
the trail at their feet.
They set off on mountain bikes for the 15 mile ride to the
lower part of the Ennerdale valley, then ran across Black
Sail pass into Wasdale before climbing Scafell Pike and
returning the same way, an 18 mile run with over 5000 feet
Adrian Bailey and Aled Rees from Lightning Reflex soon pulled
away from Billy Rogus and Mark Lewis, the runners from Hannahé.
Rees and Bailey have had less problems with sea sickness
and the Marines also had trouble with a series of punctures
on the ride, the result of risking road race tyres on an
mtb track and forest roads.
While the 4 runners tackled the hills their crews were waiting
anxiously back at Whitehaven as news came through of the
positions from intermediate checkpoints. Lightning Reflex
were hoping to get out on their own and gain a race winning
advantage and the crew of Hannah were hoping that both yachts
would get out, or neither of them would!"
As the minutes ticked by a tense group of crew, photographers,
supporters, marshals and race officials gathered around
the marina gates to wait in the pouring rain. 20.00 . 20.05
20.10 .. 20.15 . and the 2 riders from Lightning Reflex
came into sight. They raced down to the yacht at the very
last minute possible, got permission from the lock keeper
by radio, pushed off and were away, delayed only for a moment
as 'Greased Lightning' and 'Caol Ila' had to clear the lock
on their way in. Lightning Reflex had made another fast
getaway and gained a guaranteed 4 hour lead on the final
leg to Fort William and the finish.
As the time for the
last chance to leave Whitehaven draws closer Lightning's
runners return - just in time.
Parhelion and Greased
Lightning arrive and come in through the sea lock
as the leader, Lightning Reflex motors in to start
their sail to Fort Willaim and the finish line.
Parhelion on the left and
Greased Lightning arrive through the sea lock together.
Both new arrivals
make for their berths to drop the runners for the
next mountain stage.
Parhelion with all
manner of gear on deck indicating
the hard work all the boats have done to reach Whitehaven.
runner, Sally Dunn starts the
long mountain leg to Scafell with a smile!