The PowerBar Three Peaks Yacht Race

  • UK (GBR)

Battling On

Rob Howard / 23.06.2009See All Event Posts Follow Event
Last night Phillip Webb, the skipper of Maracuja, called into the marshal’s caravan at the entrance to Whitehaven Marina shortly after their athletes Malcolm Walker and Will Parry, had set off for Ennerdale and Scafell Pike.
He told their story of the passage of the Menai Strait. “We left Caernarfon an hour before low water on the 21st and ran aground near Plas Menai for 40 minutes inside the red buoy. (An embarrassing episode as I’m told he’s a part-time instructor there!)

We played silly games waiting to lift off and headed for the Swellies. After passing under Britannia Bridge we had the tide against at 6 knots with 3 knots of wind and the spinnaker pressed back against the mast. We lost all steerage and our sense of humour and decided it was time to start rowing to try and gain some steerage.

We failed in this and hit a rock off Price’s Point at 6 knots, spilt our beer, did a 360 degree pirouette, then another 180 degree turn, bounced off the rock and came off the other side dazed and confused, going backwards under the Menai Bridge. It was frightening and we were tossed around like a cork but when we lifted the floor boards we found no damage had been done.�

Under normal circumstances the crew might have considered starting their engine (though this would mean they were not ranked in the competition), but this team started the race without an engine! (We later heard that Ad Alta had also been forced to start their engine in the Straits as well, and from watching the tracks of the two back-marking yachts, Last Inn and Driac, it looks like they went through the Strait, back into it, then back through again!)

At dusk on Monday night there was a rush of teams coming into Whitehaven through the lock, and their runners/riders faced the prospect of completing the Scafell leg overnight. The runners from Storm Force, Whisky Galore, Ad Alta and Maracuja all set off together on their bikes. There was a real mixture of bikes in this group. David Wolfendale from Whisky Galore had a bike rack on the back of his, though I didn’t see if he chose to put his backpack on it and give his shoulders a rest.

This year many more teams are using road racing bikes rather than mountain bikes, but the final ride down Ennerdale forest track from Bow Knotts to Gillerthwaite Youth Hostel is risky on road tyres. One team who fell foul of this were Helly Hansen. Their runners, Nicola MacLeod and Maria Leijerstam, were on their way back and nearly off the forest track when they got a puncture, then another, then another. They still managed to fix them and carry on, setting a good time of 9 hours, 4 minutes.

There have been numerous punctures and the pair from Ad Alta suffered 4 on one bike and were unable to carry on until a new bike was somehow taken out to them. Hywel Lewis said the run/ride was without doubt the hardest thing he’d done and many runners said the same.

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