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The Race to The Lake District

Rob Howard / 08.06.2014See All Event Posts Follow Event
The British Army Runners arrive at Whitehaven
The British Army Runners arrive at Whitehaven / © Rob Howard

After the excitement of the passage of the Menai Strait the race to Whitehaven continued across the Irish Sea.  Sailing downwind Wight Rose kept the lead, arriving first at 20.29 on a bright sunny evening, and sailing straight into the marina through the open lock gates close to high water.  

[Tide times are a constant factor in the race, and this applies to Whitehaven too, as the lock at the entrance to the marina is tidal and depending on their keel depth boats can get locked out or locked in from some hours if they are arriving or leaving at low water.]

Their runners, Alex Pilkington and Stuart Walker set off with a couple of hours of daylight ahead of them aiming for a 6.5 hour stage through Ennerdale and Scafell Pike, and made rapid progress on the ride out to Ennderdale Water where they left the bikes to continue on foot.  If they make their expected time they will arrive back close to low water (which is 02.57) – so they could get locked in for while.

All the boats arriving after White Rose found the lock gates closed and had to radio the control tower to check their draught was OK to pass through, and with the wind dropping and tide falling the skippers will know the closer to low tide it gets the more likely it is they will have to anchor outside the marina.  (The runners are not allowed to come ashore so it’s a frustrating situation all round.)

Second to arrive was British Soldier, who had made up a lot of places after their navigational mishap on Snowdon, and look likely to set the fastest time for the second sail.  As a Tilman Trophy team they sent two different runners on this mountain stage, Andrew Britton and George Jorgensen.  Belgian team Denebola was next to arrive and they too are a Tilman Trophy team so that competition is a close one.

They were delighted and surprised to find they were in third place and after Christian Monos and Johan Kindt had set off, skipper Alain Poncelet said, “The downwind conditions are good for us and we averaged 7 to 8 knots and up to 13 or 14.  The race is amazing, something totally different for us!”

The race for the King of the Mountains title is close too. On Snowdon the runners from Moby J and Mistral were just 7 minutes apart, with the pair from Wight Rose not far behind. All 3 pairs are on the mountain tonight racing against each other and for their teams and by morning it’s likely the race positions could have changed significantly again.


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