Lifeboat team’s 15th consecutive raft race win

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Words and pictures Hannah O’Hanlon

With synchronized oars, the lifeboat team paddled to victory in the RNLI raft race, remaining unbeaten for the last 15 years.

Seafarers should be thankful that those responsible for saving lives at sea proved their prowess at Saturday’s gala day, with the Coastguard, coming in second, demonstrating their own aqua abilities.

They joined 10 other teams in the race around Campbeltown Loch, from the new quay to the old quay and back again, navigating round barrels in the water picking up a sixth and final crew member on the way.

The first heat splashed into action when colossal 127m-long cargo ship, Ocean Dream, berthed beside the new quay to collect wind turbine sections, sounded her horn.

Throughout proceedings, MC John Kerr kept the throngs of spectators up to date with who was in the lead.

The lifeboat raft took the lead straight away, with the McFadyens raft soon establishing itself in second place, both retaining their places until the end.

The fight was on for third place and, despite stopping to help out the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) raft, it was West Coast Motors who pushed ahead to become the last team to make it into the final.

CW Wind came fourth, PSYV fifth, and Kintyre Care Home, in difficulty, had to be towed back by one of the inshore lifeboats standing by.

There was a break between heats, with entertainment for little ones – a bouncy castle and trampolines – and for adults – Glen Scotia bar – with live music from Ardrishaig-based band Gubbed, and various stalls including a burgers sold by the Rotary Club of Campbeltown which sold out before the end of the day.

The second heat got underway after RNLI coxswain David Cox sounded the klaxon.

It was a much more equal affair, although the Coastguard team eventually took the lead.

They finished the race with Calum McKinven’s team hot on their heels.

The fire station’s raft finished in third place, with McKinven and Colville not far behind and just missing out on a place in the final.

Lagging far behind and destined for last place, the Young Farmers raft got a boost when Police Scotland foundered and sank, motivating them to push for fifth as the officers swam back dragging their raft.

During the break between the heats and the final, the Ernest and Mary Shaw all-weather lifeboat powered round the old quay into the race zone, and there was a fly-past by the Coastguard helicopter before it raced away to an emergency call-out.

For more about RNLI harbour day see pages 21, 22 and 23.

The winning team: David Reid, Greg McMurchy, Gregor Menzies, Mathew Conley, Lorne McMurchy and Ruaridh Mcaulay. 50_c27raftrace38_lifeboat team

The super-synchronised RNLI lifeboat crew in action. 50_c27raftrace32_lifeboat raft

The inner harbour proved to be a bad beat for the Campbeltown police raft crew who were rescued. 50_c27raftrace22_police rescue

RNLI crew’s oars up victory. 50_c27raftrace33_lifeboat raft