Round Britainers await Fridays fifth leg

Stories came in thick and fast at Inverness today (Thursday), some tall others short. It was yarning time among crews competing in the Round Britain Powerboat Race. It’s known in powerboat racing circles as lay day but few had time to relax.

Several were still licking wounds suffered by their machinery or hulls on the way up from Portsmouth. It’s now the halfway stage but the excitement of the forthcoming fifth leg to Edinburgh tomorrow (Friday) was just the ingredient needed to reminisce.

It all came out while Sarah Jane Fraser and Miranda Knowles were entertaining a group of child cancer sufferers from the fund raising charity Click. They happen to mention their experiences while crossing the very rough Lyme Bay off the Dorset coast last Saturday and had no idea they had made a powerboating first.

It seems concentration of driving Team Scorpion Dubois at full throttle, plus a little salt spray, conjured a thirst but trying to guzzle from a bouncing bottle was neigh impossible so they came to a stop. There as Team Scorpion Dubois rolled in the swell the girls enjoyed tea and biscuits.

“It was quite civilised,” said Sarah “And certainly not breaking the rules.” It is this laid back attitude which is being reflected in the performance of Team Scorpion Dubois up the West Coast to Scotland and one likely to move them even higher up the finishing table when they finish at Portsmouth on Monday.

Two boats struggling to make do and mend is Team 747 and Swordsman. Both suffered damage to their transmission between Oban and the entrance to the Caledonian Canal Fort William. Vital shafts and propellers were being flown back and forth from the southern England to Inverness to ensure both boats are ready in time for tomorrow’s start.

Garmin, the outfit entered by the Top Gear team, is living up to form providing minute by minute excitement for its crew Iain May, Jeff Hunton and Rowland MacDowie. Not only did they have to suffer two blown turbochargers on the opening leg to Plymouth forcing them to transport Garmin by road to Milford Haven, they caught fire on their next leg to Northern Ireland.

It seems yet anther turbocharger overheated but this time under a leaking fuel pipe which ignited. Although the fire was extinguished almost immediately, it ruined their chance of completing at least one western leg of the course.

Now they wait in Inverness after covering more of the Britain by road than water hoping their fortunes change as they race the rest to Edinburgh.

Another unfortunate is Cinzano 558 entered by Tim Grimshaw, Eric Smillie and Nick Keyser. After big problems in the engine department on the eve of the Portsmouth start, the trio are now making their way up country to Inverness where with fingers crossed they hope to experience their first start in this epic event.