The Three Peaks Yacht Race

  • UK (GBR)
  • Off-Road Running
  • Off-Road Cycling

The Leaders Approach Fort William

21.06.2005See All Event Posts Follow Event
The leading 3 yachts, which left Whitehaven together had a close and hard fought battle around the Mull of Galloway on Monday evening, but 24 hours later it was a different picture altogether.

Sanderling gradually fell behind, despite their ‘secret weapon’, an asymmetric spinnaker which they’ve used to great effect. (Though Race Director Meic Ellis thinks it’s the beer they put aboard at each stop that’s their secret.) They eventually lost touch rounding the Mull of Kintyre, unable to force a way round against the tide and are now well back in third place.

Abbeydale Moonshine struggled too, but made it through against the tide. Vlad the Impaler came close inshore (within 200m) and tacked half a dozen times, to good effect, opening up a lead which grew as the afternoon wore on. On a bright sunny day they were making 9 knots at times in perfect sailing conditions, but the weather and their luck were to change.

By 8pm Tuesday they had passed through the Sound of Jura but the wind had dropped and a fierce tide was against them as they tried to make their way past Inish island and into the First of Lorn for the final run in to Fort William. All the team were on deck, concentrating hard to fly the spinnaker in a slight breeze. They were making progress, but it was slow progress and until midnight the tide will be against them. They had a long night ahead of them.

The forecast is for a strengthening southerly wind through the night, and a weather change is in the air. After a bright sunny afternoon the sky quickly clouded over around 7pm, the sea swell grew and it began to drizzle. All of which might mean good news for sailings, but it may not be such good news for the runners on Ben Nevis.

What is good news for Vlad the Impaler is that they have a race winning lead. As they entered the Firth of Lorn Abbeydale Moonshine was drifting backwards on the tide near Craighouse in the Sound of Jura, some 20 miles behind them. The area is notorious for becalming yachts in this race, and the tidal flow is strong. Local pilot Duncan Phillips (who had taken us out to find the boats on his motor cruiser Farsain) said he thought they’d made a mistake by not passing through the Sound of Islay to find wind to the west of Jura.

Abbeydale Moonshine will have the benefit of the tide changing in their favour 2 hours ahead of the leaders, but it surely won’t be enough to allow them to close such a big gap. Vlad the Impaler is expected to arrive in Fort William on Wednesday morning, and will then just need to get their runners safely up and down Ben Nevis to win.

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