The Three Peaks Yacht Race 2015

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Fast Start – Slow Finish

Rob Howard / 01.07.2015See All Event Posts Follow Event
Carpmaels on the finish line
Carpmaels on the finish line / © Rob Howard

What a difference a night makes. Yesterday evening the 3rd to 6th placed teams were on Ben Nevis and heading for the finish after a fast race in strong southerly winds ... and by the morning the remaining 4 yachts are still a long way off the finish line, drifting in light winds or becalmed.

Yesterday there was a close race on Ben Nevis for 3rd to 5th place, but the positions didn’t change on the Ben Nevis run.  So Tramontana took 3rd place after a strong finish to the sailing when they got ahead of both Carpmaels and The Mercian Regiment. 

Dave Bird, who joined the team as a late replacement said, “It’s the best race I’ve done, and that’s despite winning it twice and racing 13 times. 

“We were doing all we could to gain time for the runners as the other boats were close and we wanted to give them a chance.  We even rowed for a while to move out of patch of calm water. We saw Mercian move across to pass outside the Isle of Lismore and we took a line inside the island. The wind seems to funnel off the mountains inside the island and you always seem to hit a hole the other side, and Merican did, so we got away from them. I guess you learn a few things each time you race.”

The team included father and son Peter Elms (senior and junior) and there was time for a hug on the line.

“Well done son, and thanks for getting me into this.”

“You did brilliantly Dad.”


Speaking about Dave Bird Elms senior said, “Dave did brilliantly. We only met him last week!” They clearly all got on well, which is always an unknown and a worry with a stranger joining the team late in the day.

Peter Elms junior, who was one of the runners, said. “We were so tense. We were always looking over our shoulder and thought it would be close on the run. Towards the end I thought Leigh (Rowley) was done for, he almost checked out before the finish.  He was weaving about and saying he was going to faint and I thought we were going to lose it.” The pair dug in and Rowley lay flat on his back on the finish line for some time to recover a bit.

“It is such an amazing race – just incredible!” said an elated Elms.

Next back were the runners off Carpmaels and they were just as elated.  “That was fantastic, clear skies and amazing views all around.”  They were relieved too, having been chased by the runners of the Mercian Regiment on the final run and the team had champagne in their plastic mugs on the finish line. They also won the trophy for the best company team in the race.

Last of the trio to finish were The Mercian Regiment, and they claimed the Tilman Cup for all round performance by putting 4 of the team on a summit.  The skipper, Andy Hadfield said, “The Tilman was our main objective. It’s our first race so we couldn’t hope to win, but the Tilman was possible. When Matt Dean pegged out on Snowdon with an injury we had to reshuffle a bit, but the important thing was that he finished the run.  Then the Brigadier did Scafell and Richard (shipa) Hoy did the Ben.”

Hoy looked shattered after his run and Andy Ryan (who did all 3 summits with a different partner) took a finishers medal for Dean. The team had chips on the line to celebrate and will also win the military Bugle trophy for the top services team. (They are the only one this year.)

Later in the night the runners off Grand Slam completed their race to finish 6th having put in another strong run on Ben Nevis and they too will win a trophy, this time for the best finish by a club team as the are from the Liverpool Yacht Club.

Which leaves 4 still to come; Vagabond, Burning Daylight, Intrepid Misfits and Celtic Rowers ... who may indeed be rowing now a calm has settled over the Inner Hebrides.  Of these 4 Burning Daylight gained the most overnight by sailing ‘outside’ Jura, rather than going through the Sound of Jura.  They will all be hoping for the winds to pick up to move them to the finish in Corpach and there is still the Last Inn Cup to win for the final arrival.

[The full results and handicap times are still being finalised and we’ll publish those as soon as they are available.]


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