It wasn’t plain sailing

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It was a real family affair for a Leighton Buzzard architecture professor when he went back to his roots to sail round the Isle of Wight in a battle against the elements.

Nick Whitehouse, 69, of Heath Road, and his three-strong crew, made up of sons Daniel, 42, who lives on the island, and Guy, 40, along with daughter-in-law Suzanne, 40, tackled the famous 50 nautical mile course on June 21.

They were joined by 16,000 other sailors, ranging from professional to amateur, in this year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

But despite having grown up on the island, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Nick and his crew.

“It was disastrous!There was a total lack of wind, so we set off at 7.50am and didn’t finish until midnight,” said Nick.

“We had a good start and caught up with the fleet in front of us but by the time we reached St Catherine’s Point around two thirds of the yachts had retired.”

By then the conditions had become too difficult for many of the crews to continue, including Dame Ellen MacArthur, who was sailing with her children.

“She came ploughing past us with a team of lifeboats”, said Nick. “Even Sir Ben Ainslie suffered from light winds on the eastern side of the island and had to anchor to avoid drifting backwards.”

But the Whitehouse clan were determined to finish.

“My sons and I were tempted to go for a beer, but Suzanne was adamant that we complete the course!” laughs Nick.

“I’m glad we finished though because the race is a fantastic event. The land and seascape is spectacular, and you often get escorted by dolphins. I definitely plan to compete again next year.”