The Three Peaks Yacht Race 2015

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Wight Rose and Rio Battle it Out

Rob Howard / 28.06.2015See All Event Posts Follow Event
Grand Slam
Grand Slam's runners try to rouse a sleepy crew / © Rob Howard

As the wind picked up on the first sailing leg around Bardsey Head to Caernarfon a two-way battle developed at the front of the race between Rio and Wight Rose, with the Dutch team on Rio having a speed advantage and staying just ahead.

They were first to arrive in Caernarfon at 01.29 in the morning, 32 minutes ahead of Wight Rose, with the Mercian Regiment a further 43 minutes behind. The fast sailing times meant there was to be no daylight on Snowdon for the runners, and that after a fast and lumpy passage on which they won’t have rested too well. The weather conditions meant the run on Snowdon would be testing too with 40 knot winds, cloud and driving rain on the summit.

The Wight Rose runners were quickest on the mountain, with Alex Pilkington and Stuart Walker setting a time of 3 hours 54 minutes, 36 minutes faster than Rio’s runners, Laurence Wilson and Chris Farley-Lewis. The 2 leading teams seem to be very evenly matched, with Rio slightly quicker on the water and Wight Rose quicker on land – this could be quite a race!

Wight Rose lead into the Menai Strait, but stalled in the Swellies, between to two bridges to Anglesey, and the two leaders emerged from the Strait close together as they headed for Whitehaven. They made a quick passage of the Strait, before the tide turned and with a strong southerly wind blowing, while the teams behind them, who arrived later and took longer on Snowdon, had the tide full against them and were much slower.

Several runners had a difficult time on Snowdon, none more so than the Mercian Regiment. One of their runners suffered a hernia and limped back before withdrawing from the race, leaving the rest of the team to continue as a team of 4.  The Mercian Regiment runners were 3rd back to the pier at Caernarfon, but both Tramontana and Carpmaels set off before them as their boat was not ready to pick up and struggled to get alongside the pier. It is a perilous manoeuvre, with the fast tide and high wind as there is no jetty. The yachts have to pull in alongside the pier supports while the runners jump aboard.

Team Carpmaels were quickly away with Paul Bettridge clutching a bag of food, but a little disappointed as his question to the support team, “Have you got a pork pie?” was met with a “No”.  They were the first of three pairs of runners waiting on the pier who left, and Tramontana soon followed with a stressed skipper at the wheel saying, “Never again!” after successfully pulling alongside. (While the boat owner watched!)

Team Grand Slam’s runners were also stranded ashore for a bit as their boat was still at anchor and not ready to pick them up and the runners were busy shouting and waving when they first arrived to get the crew’s attention. Their runners, Jason Large and Chris Briggs had set a time on the mountain of 5.02 and caught up the 3 teams ahead of them, so it must have been frustrating to wait for 20 minutes when they got back.

Briggs said, “We are not really runners, we are all sailors, and to be honest I hate running! It was hard last night to stay in my bunk and not go on deck and help, but I had to be firm and not go.”  (This team are all from the Liverpool Yacht Club.) “We won’t get seasick though and I rested pretty well.”

While this was going on Misfits were drifting out into the Strait having dragged their anchor and had to be woken by Tramontana as they left!  

At the time of writing the remaining teams are all still on Snowdon and you can see their position on the race trackers. (The tracker for Celtic Rowers is playing up so may be accurate.)

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