The PowerBar Three Peaks Yacht Race

  • UK (GBR)

A Small Boat in a Big Race

Powder Monkey Sykes / 18.07.2011See All Event Posts Follow Event
Just after the start
Just after the start
When someone says "It will be fun!" always make sure you know what their definition of fun is ...

After skippering her team to victory in the Tillman Trophy in the 3PYR last year, Kate immediately wondered if Beeline could complete the race this year. By misrepresenting the truth somewhat (ie: lying audaciously) she managed to persuade Ian and me to join her in the event, and with the headhunting of two fell runners from that centre of hill racing excellence, Saffron Walden, and a strong backup crew, team Beeline of Topsham was complete.

The start of the race saw 33 boats heading out into nasty conditions; Beeline's two reefs weren't enough but the adrenaline of improvising a third was enough to take my mind off the high winds and seas. We reached Bardsey Sound a couple of hours after Kithros II had been through the washing machine.

Bill told me later that at one point the whole of his boat was fully pointing down the face of a wave - fortunately the tide had slackened by the time we got there, but the infamous Bardsey race was bad enough to leave us all ashen faced. Kate and Ian were whooping as they fought the tiller from broach to broach, I hung onto the main sheet white-knuckled and Andy and Steve were, I assume, in their bunks praying into buckets.

After their unconventional warm-up, the lads headed off into Snowdonia a bit wobbly but determined, and the sailors slept, disturbed only by some issues with the anchor. "Should we be this close to the Cardinal mark?" is not a question one wishes to hear too often. But a glorious morning and incident-free passage up the Menai Straits set the tone for the rest of the day. Even Kate's shin up the mast to rescue the spinnaker halyard was a relaxed affair, although we think it confused the boat off our portside who'd spent the previous hour or two copying our every tactic and sail change.

Conditions picked up a little as we approached Whitehaven but good food and lots of rest meant that the runners were raring to go. The sailors fettled the boat and scrubbed our bottoms and after a great leg's cycling, running and devouring of pepperoni pizzas, we set off back through the lock - Beeline's lifting keel meant we could leave long after the other competitors were harbour-bound. A tangerine crescent moon watched our battle against a 6km tide with no wind (it wasn't the tracker! It was us!) but we were in good humour as the Mull of Galloway loomed out of the dawn mist.

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