Ian McGowan Fyfe
1920 - 2017
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