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 race. (As of this year its 2 races as there are separate multi and monohull competitions.)
Mike Ridley and Dan Withers, the runners from Wandering Glider, had been first to set off and they had so far been the fastest runners in the multihull race, so wanted to put more time on the both Peaky Blinders and Don’t Look Down.
Runners always have their targets however and they also wanted to try and complete the race in 3 days overall, which they thought they’d done on the finish line, but in fact they’d finished in 3 days and 8 minutes, with a total corrected time of 3 days 13 hours 6 minutes.
When I spoke to the skipper Michael Thorneloe he said it had been a tough race and the boat had numerous breakages, including problems with steering, which accounted for their bumpy arrival and erratic entry into the lock basin!
This team is experienced in the Scottish Islands Peaks Race and I asked how it compared to the original. “This one is much tougher,” he said, “less sheltered, and longer of course, but it does give the runners a bit more recovery time. The sailing is much more demanding.”
It wasn't until almost 5 hours later that Peaky Blinders arrived and set their runners Giles Silvester and James Luff off up Ben Nevis, and they faced the prospect of being on the summit in the dark. In the end it took them 5 hours 47 minutes and the team finished at 02.20 in the morning on a wet and miserable night, but they did have something to celebrate as they'd won the overall race!
Wandering Glider may have taken the line honours but the handicap difference between the two boats was significant and Peaky Blinders corrected final time was 3 days 8 hours 58 minutes.
The monohull race was effectively decided last night in the Sound of Jura when Peak Performers lost their lead. Mike Pickering explained, “We broached and ended up with sail wrapped around the rudder and had to watch the Bavaria come past us.” They never caught back up and Dougie Dalzell Memorial Trust pulled away and arrived close behind Wandering Glider to send Daniel Ayres and Ben Zeman up the Ben.
They knew they were only 11 minutes behind the runners off Peak Performers after the first two peaks, so the race for the King of the Mountains title was still on, though it would be difficult to make up such a deficit. They were also chasing down the runners off Wandering Glider, and they caught them at the foot of Ben Nevis on the way down, so it was the monohull boat which was the first to finish this year’s race.
They set a time of 3 hours 30, but John Hunt and Lawrence Eccles off Peak Performers were not to be denied and ran 3 hours 13 minutes to extend their lead and take the mountain runner title. They said it was surprisingly not too windy on the top and were elated with their result. It was a particularly impressive win for Eccles, who had never sailed before in his life. The pair also won the trophy for the fastest time on Snowdon, but missed the full house as Ayres and Zeman were quicker on Scafell Pike.
Peak Performers had come into Corpach with no engine, and managed it very well, and later on Roaring Forties faced the same problem and were assisted by Peaky Blinders who had arrived before them. The Catamaran went out and brought the Beneteau in rafted alongside.
The other evening arrivals were Forty Somethings and Denebola, who finished 4th and 3rd respectively. The Belgian runners passed Peaky Blinders on the mountain but did have a slow finish after Christophe Storme twisted his ankle on the descent. The skipper Alain Poncelet said on the finish line, “It was a very interesting race.” He didn’t say any more, but it’s a good description of any Three Peaks Yacht Race. He said the highest wind speed they’d recorded was 38 knots!
The final major race trophy to be decided is the Tilman Cup for putting 4 racers on a summit, and that is now down to Fat(ter) Boys and the Infantry Training Centre who are still a lvery ong way from the finish and virtually becalmed. Along with Don’t Look Down they are going to struggle to make any progress to the finish now, so we may have to wait a while to see that trophy decided.
(This is an updated version of the article following the more boats arriving at the finish.)
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