Lerwick Harbour became a hive of activity this week as yachts competing in the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland race began arriving in the isles – the halfway mark in the most challenging of events.
The 50-plus vessels, led by Will Claxton and Matt Gill onboard the trimaran Paradox, began to arrive on Wednesday in time to allow their crews some much-needed rest and recuperation after a challenging third leg.
The Paradox arrived shortly after 11.30am on Wednesday, five hours before its nearest competitor could reach the shoreline. She did well to recover after her spinnaker wrapped itself around the forestay.
As The Shetland Times went to press a large cluster of yachts were either arriving at – or getting tantalisingly close to reaching – dry land, with only a few straddlers trailing in their wake.
High hopes have been placed on Shetland competitor Leslie Irvine, who is racing with co-skipper Andrew “Woody” Wood in their yacht Streamline.
The pair, who are using the exercise to raise money for leukaemia and lymphoma research, were due to arrive in Lerwick yesterday evening having already rounded Muckle Flugga in the morning.
The 48-hour stop-over in Lerwick comes after the yachts sailed up the west coast from Barra in the Outer Hebrides. Before that they stopped at Kinsale in Southern Ireland after sailing up from the official starting point at Plymouth on 6th June.
Following the break the vessels will take to the waters again to race down the country’s east coast.
Shetland Islands Council, which sponsors the race, has been keen to wine and dine those involved. All skippers have been assured a warm welcome following their arrival in Lerwick, with a welcome dinner being laid on for competitors.
SIC business development manager Douglas Irvine said the council had been “looking forward to welcoming every sailor” and “we want to make sure they have a decent rest after such tough racing. Lerwick is the half-way mark in this most challenging of ocean races and they all deserve a good break.”
The Royal Western Yacht Club has hosted the 2,000-mile Round Britain and Ireland race every four years since 1966.
The course is split into five legs, the next one being Lowestoft in the east coast of England.
Meanwhile 37 yachts are on their way to Lerwick having left Bergen as part of the Shetland-Bergen race, which takes place every year.
The first of those vessels were expected to compete for space at a busy Lerwick Harbour with the Round Britain competitors last night. Their progress can be seen on http://shetland-race.no/.