Three Peaks Yacht Race

  • UK (GBR)

A Close Race (Updated)

Rob Howard / 17.06.2012See All Event Posts Follow Event

As expected it’s a close race this year, with the leaders arriving into Caernarfon after the first sailing stage just a few minutes apart.  The Reflex 38 Kugel Motion made it to the pier alongside the recently developed marina first (at 05.15), but only just ahead of Sea Fever and We Love MCR.  Within 90 minutes of the first arrival 9 of the 12 entries were anchored in the Menai  Strait and their runners were on their way to Snowdon.

The boats all managed to made good progress after rounding Bardsey Head and got across Caernarfon Bar close to low water after a passage on a rough sea.  With the later start to the race they all arrived at Caernarfon in daylight, the first time anyone can remember this happening.  Snowdon is usually a night time run for the leading runners, but there was no need for head torches as they set off through the town this year.

All the runners will make the 24 mile round trip in daylight and conditions were improving throughout the day.  Snowdon remained capped in cloud, as it so often does, and runners reported very limited visibility on top.  The two runners from Kugel Motion, Stuart Bramfield and Alasdair Fraser, didn’t quite manage to match their prediction of a 4 hour time, taking 4.26, and they were passed by the runners from Sea Fever and We Love MCR before they made it back to Caernarfon.  It looks like the running contest is going to be as close as the sailing.

The fastest time was set by Tim Austin and Richard Mortiboys at 4 hours 2 minutes allowing We Love MCR to start stage two in the lead.  Mortiboys, who was a late replacement in the race, was delighted to have kept up with Austin and set such a good time.  The only pair of female runners on the mountain, Nicola Fleming and Sophie Budd from Quickstep set a good time, and the runners from Thor and Kithross II had a close race back from Llanberis. 

Thor’s runners were described by their back-up crew as “having some hill walking experience and done some running, but not mixed the two before in a race” and for a time they were caught by the Kithros runners on the road into town.  They dug in however, and the two arrived back at the pier at exactly the same time, but coming from opposite directions!  (They had run through the town different ways.)

All of the boats had arrived before the Kithros and Thor runners arrived back from Snowdon, and Salty Peaknuts chose to go into the marina to rest up while their runners set off. 

The leading boats all set off through the strait against the tide and had to raise their spinnakers and work hard all the way to make any progress.

Somehow, even against the fierce tide the two leaders managed to inch their way up the strait, but ‘We Love MCR’ were stranded just after passing the Britannia Bridge, unable to make any forward progress into The Swellies.  They were stationary for about 30 minutes and were caught and passed by Kugel Motion, before both boats found a rising wind to carry them safely through the rocks and racing tides of The Swellies.  It was an impressive piece of sailing and took them under the Menai Bridge just after midday and out past Bangor Pier, on their way to the Lake District and Scafell Pike.

Update; There was more excitement to come later in the strait later in the day. When the tide turned the next 4 boats (Quickstep, Rho, Stormwind and Sea Fever) all passed through the Swellies and under the Menai bridge together - a very unlikely place to be racing but all got through unscathed. They were followed later by Kithros who were chasing Thor, both flying their spinnakers.  Thor ran into trouble later, going aground off Beaumaris, where they were stuck waiting for high tide to lift them off.  A text from their support crew at 7pm suggested they were sailing again, but the tracker still shows them in the same place ...

A word of explanation on the trackers to answer some queries coming in. They are only being carried on the yachts, not by the runners.

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