May 18th to 20th “Scottish Islands Peaks Race”

May 18th to 20th (2 nights)

“Scottish Islands Peaks Race”
Departs: Oban
Returns: Troon

Bluebird joins the fleet of yachts in an adventure race for teams of sailors and fell runners on and around the most beautiful parts of the West Coast of Scotland.

Starting at Oban when the runners take part in a six mile land race around the town then sail to Salen on Mull to race on the mountain of Benmore . After an overnight sail to Craighouse on Jura the runners disembark to scale the heights of the Paps before heading of to Arran via the Mull of Kintyre and running Goat Fell on Arran . The final leg is across to the mainland at Troon where the race finishes.

Here is a report from a school teacher

Scottish Islands Peaks Race

Parents and supporters welcomed the yachts Bluebird and Damsis into Troon marina on Sunday 21st May after the Scottish Islands Peaks Race 2017.  These two Fettes boats were first and second in the youth class; and eighth and ninth in the overall results.  These are the best places we have ever achieved.

The race started in Oban on Friday with Mark Bushby piping to the crowds from the foredeck of the good ship Bluebird.  There was a nasty moment when the enemy catamaran Obedient collided with the good ship Damsis during the start, but the damage was not enough to deter the dauntless Captain Tom Watson and both boats set off for Mull.

After an afternoon’s sailing, both Fettes teams set off within a minute of the Glenalmond runners.  Mark Bushby and David Sinclair finished first, followed by Evan Li and Matthew McKenzie in second.  Bluebird was therefore in the lead… until Damsis sneaked ahead at the island of Fladda, when the tide turned against the fleet and the yachts had to drop anchor to avoid being swept backwards.  Captain Laurie Mill, leading from the front, got out the rubber boat and towed all 7.5 tons of Bluebird out of the tide while dolphins cavorted around us.

On Saturday morning, Bluebird regained the lead as the boats headed for Jura, but the good ship Damsis caught up and was about to overtake when Bluebird cut a corner by dodging around the back of the Small Isles to drop off the runners first.  James Axon and Ed Selwyn Sharpe remained just ahead of Georgii Polonskii and Mungo Milne on the pathless wilderness of Jura.

As the sun set over the hills of Jura, Bluebird beat into the night just ahead of Damsis. Both yachts slowed down as a vicious squall came out of the darkness, and by the time the fleet rounded the Mull of Kintyre, Damsis was once again ready to pounce.  Bluebird deployed their extra spinnaker sail and pulled ahead until the sail fell in the water as the wind increased on the approach to Arran.  Yet again team Damsis, having sailed slightly faster on the sailing leg, landed their runners just behind Bluebird.  Mark Bushby and David Sinclair, running for the second time, just held off the running challenge from Breagh McMillan and Stefanie Tucker.  Bluebird bobbed across the Firth of Clyde to finish in first place.

Finally, our skippers Tom Watson, captain of Damsis, and Laurie Mill, master of Bluebird, put huge amounts of skill and determination into the SIPR.  Conditions this year were not stormy, but they were very demanding as the weather toyed with the fleet.  These men undertook the responsibility of navigating their own boats through some pretty intricate voyages for more than 55 hours.

The SIPR is really an adult event. I was very proud of the way the Fettesian youths and adults rose to the challenge.  The SIPR is the sort of event that people remember for a very long time.  It is the sort of event that teaches people a great deal.