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New record set as Olympians knock 24 minutes off Loch Ness rowing record during Monster The Loch

The GB8 team set the new record for navigating Loch Ness in the fastest time ever, coming in in a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes and 57 seconds. Picture by Sandy McCook
The GB8 team set the new record for navigating Loch Ness in the fastest time ever, coming in in a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes and 57 seconds. Picture by Sandy McCook

A new record time for navigating Loch Ness by rowing boat was set on Saturday on a boat fronted by Team GB athletes.

The GB8 team knocked a staggering 22 minutes off the previous record as part of the Monster The Loch event.

It attracted a range of teams who utilised an array of methods of navigating the iconic waterway, spanning from typical rowing boats to pedalos and even wakeboards.

The record-breaking GB8 team started with something of an advantage, being comprised of current Olympians and some of the country’s top university rowers.

They set off from Fort Augustus with their steely collective gaze fixed firmly on beating the existing record.

Aboard the successful vessel was Team GB Olympian Alan Sinclair, who hails from Munlochy on the Black Isle.

Olympian Alan Sinclair, who hails from Munlochy on the Black Isle, was part of the successful team. Picture by Sandy McCook

Mr Sinclair, who previously competed at the Rio 2016 games, had never navigated Loch Ness by boat, until Saturday.

He said: “It’s pretty awesome to set the record. I didn’t know what to expect from it really.”

The record his boat broke was only set three months ago when Scottish adventurer Jock Wishart led his 13-man team of robust rowers along the 21 mile stretch in a time of two hours, 26 minutes and 57 seconds, narrowly beating the previous record by just one minute and 12 seconds.

The new record set by the Team GB athletes will likely stand for the foreseeable future – though the highly competitive team were slightly disappointed not to break the two-hour mark.

Mr Sinclair added: “We were optimistic. The first half didn’t look like it was going to be too much of an issue, as while it was choppy and challenging we were managing fine.

“At that point we were well ahead of schedule to break two hours and then a swell came in and we took on board a bit of water.

“We had to stop a few times to bail out, which wasn’t ideal.

“It was still a great deal of fun and a good learning experience for everyone.

“This is definitely the most unique of challenges.

“We don’t race anywhere near this distance. It is a long training session in length and distance.

“To race over that distance is pretty extreme and it is something I am extremely proud of.”

Delight as the Team GB team realise they have set the new record. Picture by Sandy McCook

Pete Wells, a former Olympic rower himself, organised the monster row which attracted 270 entries – about 45 more than in 2018.

He said: “It has been great and we have had a really nice vibe.

“People have come together to support each other, by helping to get boats in and out of the water and whatnot.

“It played out much as I envisaged it, with the GB guys going for the record, but I was also delighted to see so many in fancy dress and on pedalos and the like.

“The plan is really to grow the event now to make it bigger and better and attract more locals.

“We want to create a more festival-like vibe and hope to be able to get junior participants involved next year.”

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