The 43rd Three Peaks Yacht Race - Sponsored by E.ON

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A Fickle Day in the Lake District

Rob Howard / 21.06.2021Live TrackingSee All Event Posts Follow Event
Climbing Scafell Pike
Climbing Scafell Pike / © Rob Howard

Wind and tide conditions have made it a stop-start day at Whitehaven on the Three Peaks Yacht Race sponsored by E.ON.

In the early hours of the morning it looked like Team That’s Not My Dog would get through the tidal lock gate into the marina, but when they arrived at 02.15 they couldn’t get in.  Elliot Wilkinson said, “We were scraping along the bottom and hit the sill. If the wind hadn’t shifted and dropped we’d have probably made it, but these things are fickle!” That comment about summed up the day ahead.

It wasn’t until 05.15 that TNMD got into the marina, and Bare Necessities had arrived and set their runners off well before then.  The remainder of the leading pack followed, and soon 5 teams had cyclists on the roads and cycleways on the 20 mile route out to Black Sail Hostel in Ennerdale.

They had daylight and the weather was good, and it was even clear on top of Scafell Pike.  The runners from Bare Necessities stayed ahead throughout and they set a fast time of 1 hour 55 minutes from the checkpoint at the Wasdale Head Inn to the summit and back.  They were the only team to make it back in time for their boat to leave on the next tide, taking just 7 hours 35 minutes for the round trip, so Bare Necessities set out for Fort William with a big lead.  (As the only multihull this was to be expected and they are not in the overall competition with the other boats.)

Behind them the race among the top few teams was as close as it has been all the way, and the runners were clearly feeling the fatigue on the climb up Scafell Pike.  Just to get there they’d cycled 20 miles and run across Black Sail Pass.  However, it was on the return trip that the teams had the most trouble and that was due to punctures.

Most of the cycle route is on paved surface, but there is a long section through Ennerdale on forestry track, and this year part of the main track was shut, so an alternative on the other side of the river was used. 

Some teams used cross-bikes and there was a variety of tyre choices on road bikes. Those who opted for road tyres ran into trouble on the return trip.  The runners off White Cloud chose their bikes and tyres well and had no problems, pushing on to a fast time of 8 hours 2 minutes. “We knew we couldn’t get back to catch the tide,” said Stuart Pitches, “but we had the bit between our teeth.”

The other teams all had multiple punctures.  Neil Golding from Joy suffered the worst and spent a long time patching them up. In the end both he and Sam Deller ran the last few miles into Whitehaven pushing their bikes. Golding had borrowed his friend’s Triathlon bike and it didn’t off-road well!

That’s Not My Dog had many punctures too, and Stuart Walker from Wild Spirit finished with his three spare tubes all inside a flat tyre.  “It was bumpy because of the valves,” he said, “but we were out of tubes and patches so I just put all the flat tubes in the tyre and rode on that!”  It got him to the finish in a time of 7 hours 54 minutes.  Wild Spirit  been the quickest team on Snowdon, but that King of the Mountains lead was now gone, so Chris Near and Mark Davies off Bare Necessities have a big overall lead  in that competition heading to Ben Nevis.

Walker added , “I have used this bike before on the race, and it’s been OK, but not this time.”  There was speculation the diversion route was more damaging to the bikes, but strangely all the punctures happened on the return ride.  Maybe tired riders had a part to play as well?

As all the lead teams missed the next tide, the overall ranking wasn’t really affected and they all locked out together at 6pm to continue the race. That is, with the exception of White Clouds, who were too late getting to the lock and had to wait for the next lock out, losing valuable time.

As they left the next boats came in.  Tintin had been just outside the gates for hours, having tried to get in after lifting their keel, and failed.  LETS RUN and Marine Conservation Society came in with them as well and all set off on their bikes within 5 minutes.  Tintin had carried their bikes on the boat, while all the others had support crews bring them, but then they have the space on Tintin.  These teams will be out on the Scafell Pike leg overnight.

Next to leave were Bee and the Bros, who were the only team all day to get into and out of the marina without a long wait either end.  The arrived at 12.15 and then Simon and Anthony Fear  put in a fasttime of just under 7 hours on the run/ride to allow them to leave as soon as they got back.  They were the only team to have a smooth transition through Whitehaven all day!

Half Light arrived into Whitehaven at dusk, which leaves Whisky Galore, Kokiri, Sail Raisers and Trail Blazers, and Driac still moving slowly towards the end of the second sail in light winds.

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