SIPR 2018

SIPR 2018

To view photos from this epic adventure, go to our Flickr page .

This was the toughest SIPR we have done. We have had more wind and calm in the past; but we have never fought through such relentlessly adverse conditions as we did this year. Yet we battled on to the finish at 0540 on Monday morning.

Things started well. James M and Will P scampered round the running course above Oban fast, and this meant that we were in the leading pack of boats leaving Oban Bay. We were in Mull on Friday evening and Miss McDonnell, Oli H and Ines H ran the mighty Mull route in very good time to get us away in the twilight before darkness closed in.

Friday night was fraught; we sailed into a good position, heading for Jura, until the wind died and the tide pushed us backwards. We managed, by the skin of our teeth, to get the anchor down at Duart Castle and stayed there till the wind rose at dawn on Saturday. Saturday morning saw us fighting a deadline: the tide would turn against us at the island of Fladda at 1430. By dodging through the rarely used Belnahua Channel, we made it just in time and sailed on for Jura. But alas, the wind died on the approach to Jura and we spent agonising, seasick hours fighting for every metre to arrive in Jura as darkness descended.

Saturday night saw Mr Davies fearlessly lead Jess C and Harvey F round the Jura running route in darkness and driving rain. Conditions were very, very tough, but they arrived safely back aboard La Girafe III before 0300. The forecast was poor for the next sailing leg. But after feeding the runners and battening down the boat for a rough passage, we sailed for Arran at 0415.

Sunday’s sail around the Mull of Kintyre was very, very hard. The wind reached gale force and the notorious tidal waves made the crew very sick. The Mull of Kintyre, in strong wind against a strong tide, is not a place for the faint-hearted. Yet, under the command of the gallant Tom Watson, we thundered on, fighting against another tidal deadline: 1530 at the Sound of Sanda. We entered the Sound of Sanda at 1515. Then the wind died; then it picked up; but we inched towards Arran in flat calm.

Undaunted, Miss McCosh, James M and Will P set off to run their 19 miles, getting to the summit of Goatfell in cloud and sleet as darkness fell. They arrived back at the yacht soon after 0200 – an excellent performance, especially when you consider how sick everyone was in the hours before the run.

Monday morning, then, saw us heading for the finish. We had to slow down to avoid a container ship heading up to Greenock in the night. But as the sun rose, we entered Troon Marina.

There are many, many people to thank. An operation like this is complex.
But I think we need to acknowledge the people who took the greatest responsibilities: my colleagues who trained our team to win Kings of the Bens for fastest youth team and led young and under-fuelled runners out onto the mountains; and above Tom Watson, owner and skipper of the good ship La Girafe III. Lesser men would have retired from this year’s race – many lesser men did retire, and they were not skippering a youth yacht. La Girafe III is his new boat for his sailing school and chartering business; lesser men would not have risked her on the SIPR. We owe him a lot.
Iain (Captain) Loudon

Return to news