The Three Peaks Yacht Race

  • UK (GBR)
  • Off-Road Running

Gathering in Barmouth

Rob Howard / 15.06.2013See All Event Posts Follow Event
Intrepid Misfits at the runners gear check
Intrepid Misfits at the runners gear check / © Rob Howard

The Merioneth Yacht Club is in the midst of its busiest weekend of the year as the Three Peaks Yacht Race prepares for its 36th running from Barmouth to Fort William, via Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis.

All of the yachts arrived in good time, with the Young Guns team the last to moor on the trots in the harbour channel after an overnight stop in Pwllheli. This team are easily the youngest in the race, all are 19 or 20 and school or sailing friends.  The team all plan to reach a summit, but were surprised to find out how long the distances were when they arrived!  They are one of several teams to have late replacements with Royal Marine Ignatius O’shea joining the team and their skipper is Henry Reynolds, who will be racing against his father, who is skippering the 42’ sloop Fire Dancer.

David Reynolds last entered the race in 1994 in a gaff rigged yawl which is the oldest yacht to have competed, and now, 19 years later, he is back for another go, but not with the same team. There is family interest on several other boats too. Dido is skippered by Tom Hill and the runners are his cousins Richard and Charles Hill (who are brothers).  Tom said, “We have 3 hills on the team ... there must be a joke in there somewhere!”

There are several skippers and yachts returning to the race, among then Driac, Nunatak, Pears n’Peaks, Team Laura, Moby J and White Clouds. This is a race where experience counts for a great deal and they will have learnt from past attempts. John Day of Pears n’Peaks said, “What we learnt last time was not to do it again ... but we are still here!”

Depending on the conditions Moby J, Nunatak and White Clouds are expected to be among the fastest teams, and all have runners on board who are potential King of the Mountains winners.  Nunatak were due to have Richard Ludlow on board as a runner, and he is a past winner, but a back injury means he’s been replaced by Jason Stobbs of Spartans Running Club.  There is a late change on White Clouds too with Shane Ohly replacing Eddie Winslow and running with Jim Mann, while on Moby J Chris and Adam Perry are running together.

In contrast to the regular competitors are Team Intrepid Misfits, who were put together on the race noticeboard by runner Jason MacVaugh.  “I was following the race coverage last year from Japan,” he said, “and knew I had to do the race when I came to live here, so set about finding a boat and team.”  He contacted Canadian friend Jennifer Tough and found skipper Jon Hart and his crew, and a new team was formed.  The runners are both experienced sailors as well, and have run all the mountain routes in preparation, but not spent any time on the chartered boat until last night.  Jason’s wife and children, and 3 of his friends are making up their land support crew.

It was a rough night for those sleeping on the boats, with strong winds and tides battering and shifting the moorings. Martin Pound, the skipper of Moby J said, “We were at 90 degrees to 5 knots of tide, with 40mph winds and waves breaking over the boat. The runners thought this was normal, but I sat up for a few hours in case I needed to launch the lifeboats.”  He added, “It’s always the same at this race, there are 3 stages, you have to survive getting here, survive being here, then survive the race!” 

Fortunately the wind has moderated and when the boats leave the harbour at 13.00 conditions should be easier to manage.  Before that there is rush and bustle of all the race briefings, frantic last minute preparations, and in the case of some teams introductions to fellow team mates to be made.  One way or another they will all be on the start line a mile off shore for the 14.00 start.


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