The Three Peaks Yacht Race

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An International Challenge at the Three Peaks Yacht Race

Rob Howard / 05.06.2014See All Event Posts Follow Event
At the start of the 2013 race
At the start of the 2013 race / © Rob Howard

There is a smaller than usual entry for this year’s 3 Peaks Yacht Race, but among the intrepid entries are two from Belgium and Switzerland. They join 11 other teams attempting the sailing & running challenge up the west coast of the UK, from Barmouth to Fort William ... via the summits of Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis.

The Belgian team is called twinsraces@Denebola and this is the third time they’ve attempted the race ... but until now they’ve not made the start!  Two years ago they planned to race, but suffered a grounding in the Antwerp race, then last year a collision put paid to their plans. The good news for this year is that the boat and team are in Barmouth ready to start! It’s a big team too, with 13 members in total, including support and delivery crew.

The skipper is Alain Poncelet and he knows the boat well – he built it himself, in his garage, over a period of 4 years!  Apparently the neighbours have not forgotten him heating a ton of lead in a bathtub on the drive and the boat should be easily recognisable with its black sails. (His son was a fan of Pirates of the Carribean!)

He is joined by Sofie, Johan, Dimitri and Christian and all are listed as runner/crew, so it looks the team from Belgium are going for the Tilman Trophy, attempting to put 4 of the team onto a summit during the race.

And the Swiss team ... well they are a complete mystery. They are called Team Mach5 as the skipper is Christian Mach and they are sailing a Sunfast 37, chartered locally from Holyhead. That is all anyone knows ... apart from the fact they are the second ever entry from a landlocked country. (There were some Nepalese runners once.)

There are some regular returners in the entry list as well of course – there always are. It’s such an addictive challenge the race should come with a health (and lack of wealth) warning! Geoff West is a multiple winner and is back in his Reflex 38, this time called Wightrose, the adventurers of the Vagabond Montaineering Club are back too on ‘Cloud Nine’ and Keith Mander is skippering ‘Mistral’ once more.

Martin Pound skippers the J-92 Moby J again too, and he says; “the lure of the only race in the world which combines everything from sailing to rowing, to difficult pilotage, to road and fell running, cycling and utter exhaustion, cannot be resisted.”

There are others returning too, including on the J111 ‘British Army’.  They are a very experienced team and include two time 3 peaks racer Andrew Britton and Matt Sargent, who raced in 2011 and won the Silver Bugle trophy for the top military team. They were hoping to race against a Royal Marines teams for it this year, but sadly mechanical problems stopped them making the start line.

There is another military team however, team DSTL, making their first attempt at the race. This stands for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory which is part of the Ministry of Defence and supplies ‘sensitive and specialist’ services.  Maybe I shouldn’t say any more about them ... gulp.

SleepMonsters will be reporting on the race throughout, and there will be more time to get to know the teams in the lead up to the start, which is from Barmouth at 16.30 on Saturday, and in the race days that follow.

It’s already clear however, that the race has, as always, attracted a very mixed bag of competitors from all walks of life.  What they have in common is that they are all adventurers – brought together by the unique challenge of the Three Peaks Yacht Race, one of the world’s great sporting challenges. 


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