Grandslam departed Whitehaven marina first thing on Monday morning after less than 6 hours in the yacht haven, with the runners settling down to get some serious rest.
33 hours of hard sailing in the challenging waters of the Western Isles beckoned, with strong south easterly winds the dedicated sailors, Mike, Jonty and Tony, shared watches throughout the day and night and never wavered. Despite the lack of sleep, they made some fantastic navigational choices, staying in touch with the much faster boats for the majority of the time. This was up until 10 miles to run to Fort William when the wind started to ease slowing progress against the leading boats who had already docked and despatched their runners.
Grandslam arrived at the official finish point for the sailing legs at the entrance to the Caledonian Canal in Fort William at 9.15 pm on a beautiful Tuesday evening, her journey done. Ben Nevis the highest mountain in the British Isles standing proud in the dying light with snow still on the summit despite it being midsummer. Chris and Jay set out on the final challenge to scale the ‘Ben”, at 9.25 pm after having their safety kit checked by the race officials.
Chris and Jay arrived at the summit after 4000 feet of vertical ascent, having negotiated the snowfield, at just after midnight.
Wednesday 1.30 am and the whole team have crammed into the support vehicle and walked several hundred feet up the side of Ben Nevis in the pitch black to greet the boys as they run down to the base and encourage them on the final 4 mile slog back to the finish line. There is a tension in the air as everyone strains to look into the darkness in silence. Watches are checked minute after minute based on their expected arrival time at the spot we are occupying. Finally two pinpricks of light from the head torches appear in the distance. Mike ,the skipper, and the rest of the team call out encouragement as they pass us at surprising speed on the descent; but its clear that the sheer scale of the physical effort over the previous 3 days is having its effect and they are both digging deep to make the finish line.
2.25 am and the remainder of the team have driven back to to the finish, and are there to welcome Jay and Chris home as they cross the finish line arm in arm, clearly delighted with wide smiles on their faces, despite their obvious fatigue, 3 days and eight hours after setting out from Barmouth.
9.00 am Wednesday and after a snatched sleep all are up and sorting kit at the dockside. It’s a beautiful quiet morning and everyone is talking and taking in what they have achieved; other teams are coming over, sharing their own experiences and offering their congratulations on finishing.
In the final analysis 389 miles sailed , 14,000 feet of climbing in total , 30 miles cycled, 60 miles run and £3,300 pounds raised for Macmillan cancer and Alzheimers charities. 6th across the finish line and 5th after calculating the boats handicap and a massive sense of achievement for the whole Grandslam team and all competitors.
Take a look at some of the pictures from this epic challenge below: