The Three Peaks Yacht Race

  • UK (GBR)
  • Off-Road Running

Sea Camels Make it to the Finish

Rob Howard / 21.06.2013See All Event Posts Follow Event
Sea Camels arrive as Nunatak and Questar leave
Sea Camels arrive as Nunatak and Questar leave / © Rob Howard

Through Thursday afternoon and Friday morning two unranked teams have arrived in Corpach, Intrepid Misfits and Westholme Warriors, and one team still officially in the race, the heroic and stoic Sea Camels.

The Intrepid Misfits arrived Thursday afternoon and their runners returned to the finish along the Caledonian Canal tow path, passing the Caol Community Centre as the race party was going on.  Martin Pound, skipper of Moby J, saw them and opened the window to cheer them on along the final mile to the finish line.

Westholme Warriors had a very Scottish welcome as a bagpipe player piped them into the Corpach Lock – and it turned out this was Michael Cowrie, who was due to sail on Sea Camels but had had to pull out. He has come up here to support the team and sail the boat back to Conwy, and brought his bagpipes with him!  (He played them at the party too.)

Westholme Warriors had motored up after being becalmed for so long they felt they had no choice.  “It took us 48 hours to get around Mull of Kintyre, and then we were only getting 1 knot before the tide pushed us back out of control.  We were in a difficult place and realised we were not going to be able to sail all the way.  It was a bit emotional switching on the engine after so many days at sea, but we wanted our runners to do the mountain,” said Jonathan Backhouse.  (Or it might have been James. They are identical twins and I forgot to ask which one it was.)

The Warriors had the flags of Wales, England and Scotland flying, in that order as that is how it is done in the race, and promised they would dress their boat for the morning.  (There is a trophy for that given by the water board and judged by the Lock Keepers.)  They were true to their word and in the morning the yacht had the whole rail decked out with artwork from the children at Westholme School.  Each one had a letter and the corresponding signal flag, carefully decorated, and they spelt out Westholme Warriors along the rail twice on each side.  It made for a colourful display!

Their runners set off up Ben Nevis on a damp night, while the crew headed for the race party, where they were treated to a rendition of a sea shanty written by the skipper of Flycatcher, and performed by the crew.

Sea Camels were expected to arrive overnight, but didn’t make it in until 08.15 on Friday morning, just in time to see many of the other competing boats on their way out past them in the lock. Their team mate was there to pipe them in, saying, “it’s the first time I’ve ever played the pipes before 08.00 in the morning!”  He told me all the team work together in the oil industry and it was on a night out in Doha that the plan to enter the race came together – hence the team name.

This team have really persevered and said they had never had moments of doubt when they thought about using the engine, though they were not impressed with the forecasts which kept promising 4 to 5 knot winds, which never came; day, after day, after day.  (Several crews have said this.) They thought they had probably rowed 24 hours in total and explained how they rowed around the Mull of Galloway so close inshore they could almost touch the rocks, looking for an eddy.  It worked and made it possible for them to finish the race.

That just leaves two boats still out there, Pears n’Peaks, and Driac, both still in the race and aiming to get to Corpach before the course closes at 18.00 on Saturday.  Pears n’ Peaks should reach the finish today (Friday), but Driac still has a long way to go.  Driac is a mystery boat, having not been seen by anyone involved in the race since the start!  They have been so far behind they have taken their own times on the way rather than have the marshals wait just for them – but they are still in the race, putting in a performance deserving of the Last Inn Cup!

[Update; Sea Camels have completed the race with the safe return of their runners from Ben Nevis and Pears n'Peaks have arrived at Corpach, but sadly after using their engine. Driac started their engine too and subsequently to say they were withdrawing and not going on to Fort William. So in the end 8 teams have completed the full race and Sea Camels will win the Last Inn Cup.]

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