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

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Up the Ben and to the Finish

Rob Howard / 24.06.2021Live TrackingSee All Event Posts Follow Event
Team Tintin on the finish line
Team Tintin on the finish line / © Rob Howard

More teams have completed the 43rd Three Peaks Yacht Race, sponsored by E.ON, sailing into the finish at Corpach and completing the final run before crossing the finish line. 

At dusk on Wednesday Bee and the Bros arrived and sent three runners up Ben Nevis, Brothers Anthony and Simon Fear were the official runners, and Bryony Whitaker (Bee) went up with them.  This team have been setting fast times (winning the Scafell Pike run), and they did so again with a time of 3 hours 37 minutes, despite running through the short night and in cloudy and cold conditions.  

Aurora reached the finish line shortly after ‘Bee and the Bros’ set off, and they were all laughing and joking on the finish line and enjoying the moment, possibly helped by the beers consumed while the runners were on Ben Nevis!  They had a good party going at the finish.

It wasn’t until 06.58 on Thursday morning that Marine Conservation Society were the next to arrive, and skipper Seth Richardson set off up Ben Nevis with Chris Fischer so the team could compete for the Tilman Trophy.  By now the weather had set in for an overcast and wet day, and often it wasn’t possible to see even the foot of Ben Nevis, let alone the top.

The pair set a time of 4 hours 11 minutes and were welcomed back by the rest of the team and their supporters, who produced glasses and a bottle of Jura malt to celebrate a moment they’d long dreamt of and planned for. 

Alan Hyne-Jones said, “Some of the sailing has been brilliant, and last night we had 18 knots of wind behind us and were under spinnaker for hours.  The variety of weather has been good too, interesting and challenging, and the scariest part of the course was, without doubt, The Swellies.”

Chris Fischer was the only non-sailor on the team, and he said, “It’s been extraordinary and the scenery we’ve seen up the West Coast has been incredible. I would never have seen that but for the race. 

“I had no idea how scary sailing at night is, and would do more sailing if I did the race again, so I could contribute more.  Sailors have their own language and every bit of the boat seems to have 4 different names!  I’ll remember The Swellies too, and the look on the crew’s faces as we tried to find a way through!”

Richardson thought they might have claimed the record for the number of times aground in a race and said, “There were 4 in the Menai Strait to start with”!  Even so, they made the finish and won their medals.

LETS RUN had followed MCS up The Ben, and when Shelli Gordon jumped down onto the pontoon she exclaimed, “Land!”  They’d been 4 days in the very small X99 Tactix and she later explained. “Our ‘bunks’ were more like a shelf, so you couldn’t sit up without banging your head, there were no cabin doors and you had to hold onto a mast while going to the toilet, so it was pretty cramped. 

“There was little to no room for us to go on deck without getting in the way so we were in the cabin a lot of the time and had to climb over a sail to get out. I like to keep everything tidy and struggled a bit with that too!”

Even so, they coped well and have set good times, and both enjoyed the Ben Nevis run the most. Shelli explained, “The Snowdon run was too much road for me, and on Scafell Pike I got very cold on the ride.”  Lee Kemp said, “I think this was the most runnable of the 3 peaks.”  It’s not an opinion a lot of the runners would share!

On the finish line the team were waiting with their supporter, Simon, who was quite noticeable dressed as a ‘sailor girl’, in short, frilly, skirt and long leggings.  He’d been collecting for the team charity, CALM, and had over £46 in his collection bucket, and he produced no less than 5 bottles of Prosecco. One for each of the team.  (We’d had celebratory beer, scotch and fizz all in one day.)

The team hadn’t had the fastest of races, and skipper Geoff West thought it was latest he’d ever made the finish, but all were delighted to be there.  West and Dave Bird had completed more races than anyone else, but both had failed to finish in their last two attempts (and so had John Williams in 2019).  “We made the finish line and that’s what main aim was this year,” said Bird.

Tintin arrived at Corpach just after midday and by that time the wind had picked up strongly as a front blew through. The team decided not to try and come up to the pontoon and, instead, to put their runners ashore by dinghy.  When Steve Gordon and Joanna Withers came back to the finish later in the evening the team completed a remarkable return to the race.  Steve and Joanna, with Rob Withers, had all raced and won the Tilman Cup 30 years ago!

They returned this year, with 3 of that original team, and completed the Tilman again, putting all 5 of the team on a summit.  It’s not got any easier,” said Rob Withers.  “The brilliant race organisation is still the same of course, but it’s been harder for me this time being skipper. I was just a runner doing what I was told the first time!”

He said he’d been using the small enamelled 3 peaks medal as a key ring for the last 30 years.  It’s still the same, and he has a new key fob now!

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