Skip Navigation

Through The Swellies or Round Anglesey?

Rob Howard / Photo : Daniel Farrimond / 16.06.2019

Peak Performers rowing in the Menai Strait

That was the choice facing teams after the Snowdon run, whether to head into the Menai Strait with the fierce tide against them, or exit the Strait the way they had come in and take the longer route right around Anglesey.

For many years it really wasn’t  a choice, the Skippers wisdom and preferred race route was through the strait, risking the difficulties of the Swellies, holding position, sometimes anchoring, and waiting for the tide if necessary.  In the past not many have ‘gone around’ and made the tactic pay off , but  in the last couple of years it’s been tried and the first boat to leave Caernarfon this morning set off ‘round the Island’.

That  was Wandering Glider and when I grabbed a word with one of the crew just as they left he said, “We’ve been discussing it at length, and think there may be less wind behind the island so we could get through but then be slower.”  So they set off around Anglesey and really they should know as the boat is sailed out of Holyhead.

Soon after that Wight Rose was on the pier waiting for the return of their runners and I chatted to Geoff West, the most experienced and successful skipper in the race.  He was surprised anyone would go round Anglesey but wondered if it was partly about manoeuvrability . “It’s shorter that way anyway,” he said, “pointing up the Strait towards the Swellies. There is plenty of wind this year, and you get the same tide out in the Irish Sea anyway.” 

It’s a judgement call and a tactical choice and there are plenty of those in this race. This year opinion was more divided than ever and The Roaring Forties and Peaky Blinders followed Wandering Glider, and so too will Jumpa Lagi because of its 3m keel depth. (Don’t Look Down is still tracking in Caernarfon so I don’t know about them.)

The Dougie Dalzell Memorial Trust managed to push through the Swellies against the tide and break out first after a battle with Peak Performers, with both crews rowing for that extra % of a knot while trying not to go backwards, or at times not lose ground as fast the other one.  Somehow the Bavaria 36 got through while Peak Performers were stuck in the Swellies, drifting backwards and forwards for well over an hour near the Britannia Bridge.

The Dougie Dalzell Memorial Trust are having a great start to the race, having had no hold ups on Caernarfon Bar and a fast running time on Snowdon, and their passage of the Strait built on that good start to open up a lead.

Once the tide had turned and with the wind still blowing from the South West and rising, subsequent boats passed through the Swellies (between the Britannia and Telford Bridges) much more swiftly, with little sail up.

Geoff West and Wight Rose sadly never got as far as the Swellies as after the Snowdon run their replacement runner, Andy Sanderson, was taken ill.  After stopping in Port Dinorwic for a while to see how he was it was decided he could not continue and the team are retiring from the race.

With the luxury of Satellite tracking race followers can now see almost the teams out in the Irish Sea, heading for Whitehaven, and scroll the time line back and forth to see which route was the most successful for the different teams ...

It’s not easy to say.  You’ll have make your own judgement call on that. (Comments are welcome on our Facebook page.)

[If you enjoyed this story and would like SleepMonsters to continue reporting on Adventure Racing then we need your help. Please support our Patreon campaign or make a donation via PayPal.]

About The Author

Rob Howard
Rob is Editor of He's traveled the world reporting on and photographing adventure races and day-to-day he keeps his finger on the pulse of AR to ensure SleepMonsters is the heartbeat of the sport.

More About The 42nd Three Peaks Yacht Race

DDMT & Peaky Blinders Cruise to Victory

DDMT & Peaky Blinders Cruise to Victory
The 42nd Three Peaks Yacht Race had some fast and challenging sailing conditions on the West Coast of the UK, and the event rolled the Read More

‘Welcome Home Mary J’ – Don’t Look Down Reach The Finish

‘Welcome Home Mary J’ – Don’t Look Down ...
The 42nd Three Peaks Yacht Race came to a close for this year when runners Roddy Sandeman and Texa Sim from the Catamaran Don’t Look Read More

The Tilman Cup Teams Arrive

The Tilman Cup Teams Arrive
Team Fat (Ter) Boys arrived at the finish at Corpach Lock at 17.41 on Wednesday afternoon after making rapid progress to the finish over Read More

The Peaky's Pull A Blinder

The Peaky's Pull A Blinder
As the race clock ticked around into the early hours of Wednesday morning there were two pairs of runners on Ben Nevis, dealing with some Read More

The Titles are Decided - With One Exception

The Titles are Decided - With One Exception
There were 5 teams with runners on Ben Nevis late on Tuesday, and they were racing for a finish, and to decide the main trophies in the Read More

From Back To Front To Finish

From Back To Front To Finish
With such a fast race this year the leaders were arriving in Corpach not long after the back markers had left Whitehaven.  One Read More

Fast Forward Through Whitehaven

Fast Forward Through Whitehaven
The pace of the race sped up on the second leg with fast sailing times from Caernarfon to Whitehaven in winds which the teams reported as Read More

An Early Morning Rush at Caernarfon

An Early Morning Rush at Caernarfon
In the pre-dawn light the first boat to arrive at Caernarfon this morning just before 4am was Wandering Glider.  While the monohulls Read More

The 42nd Three Peaks Yacht Race Gets Underway

The 42nd Three Peaks Yacht Race Gets Underway
After a long day of waiting, a crowded race briefing in the bar of the yacht club, and then some more waiting as it was low tide, the crews Read More

Handy Andy!

Handy Andy!
When the call went out last night for a replacement runner for Wight Rose there was less than 24 hours notice for someone to join one of Read More

Teams, Tactics and Trophies

Teams, Tactics and Trophies
Barmouth Quay is busy today with the new 10k road race taking place with 400 runners, and  the new ‘Day On The Quay’ Read More

Runner Required – Must Like Mountains & Be Available Tomorrow

Runner Required – Must Like Mountains & Be Available ...
For a while at the Merioneth Yacht Club today it look like a case of ‘all present and correct’ for this year’s 3 Peaks Read More

An Iconic Adventure Challenge  For Sailors and Runners

An Iconic Adventure Challenge For Sailors and Runners
The 42nd Three Peaks Yacht Race starts from Barmouth next Saturday, June 15th, at 19.30 and this year there are 12 intrepid teams of Read More

The 42nd Three Peaks Yacht Race

Support Adventure Racing

SleepMonsters Patreon


like us on facebook

Adventure Racing Tags

The Pioneer, Harrogate Winter MBO Score Event, ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Malta, Oman Desert Marathon, SwimRun NC, Augusta Adventure Fest, Kathmandu Coast to Coast, AR MALAYSIA, ROOTS NIGHT RACE, FNB Wines2Whales, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, adventure racing, expedition racing, Adventure Racing World Series, Eco Challenge, Adventure Racing European Series

Our Patrons

Adventure Race Croatia

Rootstock Racing


SleepMonsters Patreon

Thank you to all our

adventure racing


Adventure Race Croatia

Rootstock Racing

Tanz Navigation

-- -- --

Brian Gatens

-- -- --

Adventure Enablers

Chipp Dodd

Celia Nash

David Ellis

Erik Sanders

Fiona McBryde

Graham Bird

Jakub Malik

Josh Hayman

Strong Machine AR

-- -- --

Adrian Crane

Barbara Campbell

Dejna Odvody

Klaus Mygind

Lars Bukkehave

Marco Ponteri

Nigel Davison

Rob Horton

Semyon Yakimov