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Team smash 26-year record of rowing length of Loch Ness

The 14-strong team have beaten a 26-year-old record of two hours and 28 minutes.

Loch Ness rowers Jock Wishart
STV

A team of intrepid sportsmen have become the fastest rowers to travel the length of Loch Ness.

The team of rowers, all aged over 50, took to the water on Wednesday in an attempt to break a 26-year-old record of the crossing, which was two hours and 28 minutes.

Sailing to victory with a time of two hours, 26 minutes and 57 seconds, they managed to shave just under a minute off the record.

It is the first stage of a unique treble for the Guinness Book of Records, as the rowers also have their sights set on a Channel crossing and River Thames record.

Scottish maritime adventurer, polar explorer and rower Jock Wishart from Dumfries led the 14-strong crew in their record-breaking attempt in a unique rowing boat from the Basque region of Spain.

Ahead of the race, Mr Wishart said: "We're excited to be making this attempt on a very tough record. It is a monster row - a distance of over 20.5 miles.

"The crew are highly experienced endurance rowers used to breaking rowing records, and many of them have participated in the gruelling London-Paris rowing challenge. Even so, we will have to be in good form to beat the record.

"In theory it should have been beaten a long time ago but the conditions on Loch Ness are highly unpredictable."

Former World Lightweight Sculling champion Peter Haining and his partner George Parsonage set the record 26 years ago in a double scull.

In April 1993 the pair completed the row up the Loch in two hours, 28 minutes and nine seconds. In recent years several crews have attempted to break it without success.

'In theory it should have been beaten a long time ago but the conditions on Loch Ness are highly unpredictable.'
Jock Wishart

Mr Wishart's 'Trainera' boat, which he has brought to the UK from northern Spain for the summer, is a design which evolved from fishing vessels used on the Bay of Biscay to become a high-performance boat used in coastal competitions.

It is a fibreglass copy of the old fishing boats which has evolved to into a lightweight carbon fibre rowing machine.

The popularity of the racing boats on the Basque coast mean the races draw crowds of thousands and the weekly races are televised to a large audience.

Mr Wishart added: "Some time during the day the Loch Ness Monster may be woken from her slumbers by the sound of a former sardine fishing boat rushing over her!"

Although the record set 26 years ago was the one to beat, the team are actually hoping to set the first Guinness World Record, as the first wasn't recognised by the organisation.

'Some time during the day the Loch Ness Monster may be woken from her slumbers by the sound of a former sardine fishing boat rushing over her.'
Jock Wishart

"Technically we are having to set a new record as Guinness Book of Records never ratified Peter and George's record but have since recognised two canoeing records and there is now an Annual Rowing Race, 'Monster of the Loch', over exactly the same course so it is only a matter of time before it becomes well established."

Mr Wishart's previous adventures include rowing the Atlantic, rowing to the North Pole, leading the Cable and Wireless Adventurer team on a record-breaking circumnavigation of the globe in a power boat and winning yachting's prestigious Commodores Cup with a Scottish team in 2018.

The distance for the record begins at the lock gates in Fort Augustus to appoint at the shoreline of the loch at Dorres.

The 14-man crew comprised of Jock Wishart, Andy Wells, John Parker, Richard Carless, John Graham, Duncan Graham, Simon Leifer, Mike Lanzer, Nick Mepham, CD Riches, Andy Graham, Paul Reynolds, Andy Tompkins and Dave Jillings.

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