The PowerBar Three Peaks Yacht Race

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Into Caernarfon in the night

Rob Howard / 19.06.2010See All Event Posts Follow Event
After a better than expected start with winds up to force 4 at times the race fleet made good progress across Cardigan Bay and around Bardsey Head. The leaders passed between Bardsey Island and the headland without difficulty, but later yachts had more problems with the turning tide and took some time to get through.

By this stage Team Whistler had moved ahead of White Cloud and it was a lead they maintained all the way into Caernarfon. A few miles before the entrance to the Menai Strait the winds became more variable and dropped and after some close racing with White Cloud, the Australian team managed to pull out a lead here, crossed Caernarfon Bar safely on a rising tide and motored onto the pier to arrive in Caernarfon in first place at 01.21 in the morning.

Here, the runners climbed up a ladder on the pier and ran ashore to have their 5 minute time out and equipment check. The marshals ask all the teams how long they expect to take and Michael Mcintyre replied, “No idea! I’ve never been here before. Then he took an educated guess at 4 and a half hours, which would be a fast time if they achieve it. The pair said they’d not slept much, “due to too much tacking�, then asked to look at the Sportident timing box, just so they knew what to look for. Then they ran off into the night, heading for Snowdon. In the current conditions they may be lucky and find the summit clear, but it will be cold.

It wasn’t until 01.49 that White Cloud came in, and they were surprised to have lost half an hour to Team Whistler. In the fierce tide they had a little trouble getting alongside the ladder on the pier. Their runners, both from Ilkley Harriers, had originally been recruited to race on another entry, but that fell through and they ended up with White Cloud. It was stroke of luck for the White Cloud crew, who two years ago set the fastest sailing times, but had the slowest runners. (They won the prize of the Kamminga Clogs, donated by a Dutch team and now used as a trophy for the slowest pair on the mountains.) As he set off Eddie Winslow looked up at the already lightening, star speckled sky and said what a good night it was for running. He added, “When I was here for a recce in Easter it was 65 mph winds.� He isn’t the only runner to make such a comment. Silversurfers were forced off Scafell Pike by snow and ice on their recce.

GFT Adventure came in at 02.15 and their runners gave their estimated time as 3 hours 40 minutes, then set off at a pace which suggested they might keep to that impressive aim. Kishinoor were only 3 minutes behind them and said they were excited to be 4th but the runners had suffered sea sickness on the way and they set off at a much more sedate pace as they found the land legs again.

About this time a call came in from Ben Folds Five saying they had difficulty with their navigation lights and were anchored of Nevin trying to fix them. It’s a setback but it won’t be dark for long and they can find assistance in Caernarfon.

The yachts were coming in steadily now and Topsham Sea Fever arrived at 02.24. This is a Tilman Trophy entry, aiming to put 4 of the team on a mountain summit and the first runners to go were Virginia Bird and Andrew Hattersley. Andrew gave their time estimate as 5 and a half hours but Virginia called out. “If you ask me it will be 6 hours!� She added, “The navigation coming in to the channel was very tricky but our skipper Kate did brilliantly.�

As they set off the lights of Torbellino were to be seen coming up the channel, with others following behind and by dawn the majority of the entries will be anchored just off Caernarfon and out of the tidal flow of the main channel. The timing of the return of their runners may be critical to their chances of making the passage of the Strait and the rocky channel between the two Menai Bridges, known as The Swellies. They will hope to have a tide with them, but it seems this may not happen for the leaders, and with the winds dropping its possible they will be forced to anchor and that the race will regroup before the fleet continues to Whitehaven.

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