Ian McGowan Fyfe

1920 - 2017

The Oban Times - - Births, Marriages & Deaths -

THE DEATH of Ian Fyfe marked the end of an ex­tra­or­di­nary life. From hum­ble be­gin­nings in Mood­ies­burn, La­nark­shire, he went on to be­come well known in Lochaber and be­yond as a suc­cess­ful hote­lier and yachts­man. He served for seven years in the RAF and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (1939 to 1946) as a nav­i­ga­tor fly­ing long-range bombers and Sword­fish tor­pedo bombers. Af­ter the war, he owned a gro­cery shop and pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness. He also wrote match re­ports for the Daily

Record. Af­ter hol­i­day­ing in the High­lands, he be­came aware of the rapidly ex­pand­ing tourist in­dus­try and the need for ac­com­mo­da­tion, which led him to pur­chase a croft near Fort Wil­liam in 1963. The croft dwelling was de­vel­oped into a large guest house be­fore he then de­signed and built the Clan MacDuff Ho­tel in 1967. He con­tin­ued en­larg­ing and im­prov­ing this over the fol­low­ing 35 years.

He joined Lochaber Ro­tary Club in 1974 and, in later years, was made an hon­orary mem­ber, be­com­ing their old­est mem­ber.

Dur­ing the 1970s and 1980s Ian be­came a suc­cess­ful yachts­man who was best known for his ocean rac­ing ex­ploits. In 1976, he raced from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro in Gum­drop, fin­ish­ing a cred­itable sev­enth over­all. In 1977, he won ev­ery race in Class 1 at the Ju­bilee West High­land Week and ev­ery tro­phy avail­able to him - a to­tal of 11. Three years later he took part in the Parmelia Race, an ocean marathon of well more than 10,000 nau­ti­cal miles from Plymouth to Perth, Aus­tralia. He fin­ished an im­proved fourth over­all in a big­ger boat called Bub­blegum.

At the age of 61, Ian took part in the 1981 Whit­bread round the world race, in the small­est boat ever to com­pete. It was a tough race on man and boat with many in­ci­dents. The most se­vere of these oc­curred 160 miles off Cape Horn. The rud­der bear­ings broke free from the hull and the boat be­gan to sink. With great ap­ti­tude and lead­er­ship, he im­pro­vised and man­aged to stop the yacht sink­ing. Then Ian sailed 160 miles with­out a rud­der to ren­dezvous with a Chilean naval tug which ac­com­pa­nied Bub­blegum to safety. He is sur­vived by his wife Faith, sons, An­gus and Ian, who con­tinue to op­er­ate the ho­tel, and five grand­chil­dren, James, Joanna, Lewis, Iain and Philip.

Hote­lier and yachts­man - Ian Fyfe

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