Intrepid sailor Leslie Irvine has completed the first leg of the gruelling Shetland Round Britain and Ireland race in good style, finishing second in his class and 10th overall despite having to row for the final few hundred metres.
The Lerwick businessman’s yacht Streamline was among the 56 vessels that crossed the Plymouth starting line for the endurance race on Sunday.
He and his co-skipper Andrew “Woody” Wood were enjoying the first of a series of compulsory stops when The Shetland Times caught up with him on Wednesday.
The sailing enthusiasts were enjoying the sunshine at Kinsale in Southern Ireland after taking just one day, 13 hours, 38 minutes and 43 seconds to sail up from England’s south coast – however a drop in wind late in the stage meant a bit of extra effort was needed to net the positive result.
With very little breeze near the Irish coast the men ghosted along for around an hour until drastic action was needed 300 metres from the finish and they decided to row.
Despite that, Mr Irvine said he had enjoyed the event so far, and was looking forward to the next stage which will see him sail to Barra in the Outer Hebrides. The next stop after that will be Lerwick.
“We started on Sunday at 12.15. It’s been going quite well so far and we’ve got a good strong wind – up to 30 knots – to take us up to Barra,” he said.
He added the 32-feet Streamline, which is really his long-trusted vessel Vandal renamed thanks to a sponsorship deal, had coped well so far with the challenges of navigating the British coastline.
“She’s doing very well. She’s ship-shape. We’re just waiting on a couple of batons for the jib, but we’re doing fine. There have been no problems.”
Overall, the sailor is making better progress than he did the last time he took part in the event, when his co-skipper suffered an injury after falling down a hatch.
Sponsorship money raised by the two will be given to help leukaemia and lymphoma research.
Anyone interested in following their progress can log on to www.vandalocean racing.com.
Meanwhile, standing by the starting line on Sunday was council convener Sandy Cluness, who was there on behalf of the SIC which sponsors the event.
“I was delighted to be in Plymouth to watch the start of the race,” he said. “It was a sight to see and I wish every competitor a safe race.”