If you only have time to read one story before family duties, work or an impending collision with that container ship on your starboard bow, drags you away from this month’s issue make sure it’s the feature on Bobby Cowe and his extraordinary adventures on board his Scanner RIB (p84).
The synopsis sounds like a script for a movie; Scottish trawlerman spends his days hauling herring and mackerel from the freezing waters of North Sea and his holidays sunning himself in Mallorca. He makes a few bob from catching fish and buys a cabin RIB called Braveheart for blasting around the beaches and bays of the Balearics. One day he reads about the Round-Britain Race in this very mag, reckons it sounds like a laugh and tosses his hat into the ring with fellow trawlerman Hamish Slater.
Rather than commission a bespoke offshore racing boat, Bobby goes back to the local Spanish dealer who sold him Braveheart and asks him to make a faster one. Turns up on race day with a big lump of a boat powered by a pair of standard petrol V8s and an equally inexperienced crew, much to the amusement of the rest of the fleet.
I won’t spoil the story, suffice it to say that the tale involves much eating of hats by more experienced racers, a run-in with the Portuguese authorities on suspicion of drug smuggling, an embarrassing incident with the Mayday button of their VHF, and enough anecdotes to fill an entire issue of the magazine. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. Quite how their escapades managed to slip under the radar until now, I don’t know. I only thought to investigate further when I re-watched the DVD of the race and finally realised that the vast white whale of a boat blasting through the waves like Moby Dick on amphetamines was none other than Braveheart.
When we finally managed to track them down in the Scottish town of Fraserburgh, the full story was even better than I’d hoped and proves that the true spirit of offshore powerboating is alive and kicking in the most unlikely of places. In the meantime, I’m off to find those mackerel lines I stashed away in the bilges of my boat. I’m hoping to catch enough to fund my entry to the 2012 event.