The Three Peaks Yacht Race

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The First Adventure Race?

Rob Howard / 06.06.2014See All Event Posts Follow Event
The finish of the first race in Fort William - it was a long time ago.
The finish of the first race in Fort William - it was a long time ago. / © Ron Isles

The first 3 Peaks Yacht Race took place in 1977 and depending on how you look at it, it could be the oldest ‘adventure race’ of all.  This year is the 37th race.

OK, it does include sailing, but no engines are allowed, it’s all human or wind powered, and there is plenty of navigation, endurance and technical skill involved.

It’s a team race, for teams of 5 and this is usually, but not always, 3 sailors and two mountain runners. It is non-stop, for anywhere between 3 and 7 days, so there are exceptional levels of endurance required.  Even more so when you think that at sea you can’t just stop to rest, or take a breather when you need to – you are at the mercy of the elements.

The race involves road and mountain running, a road and off-road cycle stage (from Whitehaven to Ennerdale), navigation at all times, on sea and land, usually some very strenuous rowing (yes they row the yachts through calms and against tides), and sailing. Teams can be supported or unsupported, and if they use engine power they are out of the race.

There is plenty of uncertainty with the weather and tides, and no two races are ever the same. There is risk too, boats have grounded (and one broke up), and runners have fallen and needed rescuing. Teams are on their own in challenging and sometimes hostile environments.

So, it’s a navigational, multisport team race, running non-stop over many days and covering large distances on land and sea ... 

An ‘adventure race’? 

Maybe that’s pushing it, but the spirit of the race and all the principles behind it, are compatible with the idea of adventure racing. The race is one of the world’s classic adventure challenges and it first took place 12 years before the first Raid Gauloises.

[Ed. Anyway that’s my excuse for spending the next week covering the race and you can follow it all on SleepMonsters.]


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