Magellan Three Peaks Yacht Race

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A Slow Start

Rob / 21.06.2003See All Event Posts Follow Event
Leaving the start line
Leaving the start line
The harbour front was a buzz of activity before the start as crews made final preparations for what is expected to be a slow race. At the morning race briefing local coastguard Ian Lindsay had read out the forecast, which began with “variable 3 to 4� for the local conditions, and by the time he got to the 3 day inshore forecast it was “light or moderate winds in the north or north-west�. As he went on to predict light headwinds for virtually the whole race the groans got louder. He gave out some notes on sailing through the Menai Strait too with the disclaimer, “use it at your own risk, we take absolutely no responsibility.�

As always there were last minute crises. One of the Ryde Harriers YC team only arrived an hour before the boats left the harbour, and the Bowline Climbing Club team on Milly Brown were without an engine. They’d had problems getting over Caernarfon Bar in a force 7 gale and the engine was the main casualty. It was welded just prior to setting off but may still not be functional when they arrive at Caernarfon, though at the briefing the other crews agreed they could have a tow in if necessary. (Which is really against the rules.)

Jacana had similar turbulent weather on the way which was something of a baptism of fire for the two runners aboard, ‘Barry and Gary’, who hadn’t done much sailing before. “We hope that’s the worst of it and we’ve got our sea legs now,� said Gary Offland. “There are already buckets on the boat with our names on them!� Then he added, “We’ll be using buckets even if it’s calm as in the swellies the plan is to throw them out ahead of the boat while we are rowing. The skipper keeps on threatening to have us rowing!� Given the forecast it\'s very likely to happen.

By 14.00 everyone was on board ready to go and the Barmouth Lifeboat, ‘Moira Barrie’ led them out of the harbour in procession with a flotilla of local boats for company. The sun had come out and with pennants flying it was an impressive sight for the crowds gathered on the harbour wall.

The start line is about a mile off shore, marked by 2 buoys, and the yachts circled preparing to cross when the starting flare went off at 15.00. They started in an orderly line, lead by Spirit of Barmouth and Hellefix, easily the two fastest boats in the fleet.

The forecast had been right and in force 3 to 4 winds they began a duel that may last the length of the race, sailing at over 6 knots alongside each other as they headed for Bardsey Head. Not far behind was Ryde Harriers YC. This X99 is another quick boat, normally sailing under the name Tactix, and may do well in light airs forecast. (It’s owned and chartered from Goeff West, the skipper of Spirit of Barmouth, so he knows exactly what it’s capable of.)

However, they had not gone too far before the wind began to drop and if they are held by the tide at the entrance to Bardsey Sound the fleet could catch up and the smaller boats may do well, especially if they are well equipped for rowing. With later reports of flat calm beyond Bardsey Head it could be a long night and no one is predicting when the leaders will arrive at Caernarfon.

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