Geoff West and Lightning Reflex make the tide gate at Whitehaven.
A Word with Geoff West

Just as they had bumped their way down the channel into Caerarfon bar, race leaders 'Lightning Reflex' bumped their way into the marina at Whitehaven, and once again the Royal Marines yacht 'Hannah' was right behind them.

The entrance to the marina is via a tidal lock, and both yachts had arrived outside the marina wall soon after midday on Sunday, easily breaking the record for the quickest sail on this leg of the race. (As Hannah left after Lightning Reflex their time of 12 hours 53 minutes is the new record.) Then they had to wait until there was enough depth in the gate for their 2.3m draught to get through, so it wasnét until 13.04 they could get in and complete the leg.

Speaking to Geoff West the skipper of Lightning Reflex after their arrival it was clear they'd had an exciting time. "We got away quickly through the Menai Strait he said," thanks to the local knowledge of these two." He was nodding towards his crew Ken Fitzpatrick who is local harbour master, and Dave Jones, a sailing instructor who works on the strait. "They just directed me through in the dark from memory, I'd never have believed we'd go through so fast."

"Then we lost time, opting out and not putting the spinnaker up round Puffin Island so the Marines caught us up. Once we saw their spinnaker ours went up and we were in sight of each other almost all the way then. We lost our spinnaker later when we broached - its in a ragged pile in a bag somewhere. We're having a competition to see who can get the most speed out of the boat. I'm winning so far with 17.9 knots, but it was very windy at the time."

I've been caught out 2 times out of 3 on this race in the Menai Strait, so Iém glad we're through there leading. I'd have been happy just to be in contention, the real sailing race starts when we are out of Whitehaven and on our way to Fort William, that's when we'll see what we can do." With gusts to force 10 forecast and a close contest with 'Hannah' the chances are theyéll go faster than 18 knots and the race record of 3 days 5 hours could be under threat.
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