All eyes are on the clock as Lightning Reflex wait the return of their runners from Scafell

June 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 of ascent.
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.


Parhelions female runner, Sally Dunn starts the
long mountain leg to Scafell with a smile!

Back to 2002 race index