Magellan Three Peaks Yacht Race

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Swift and Safe Through the Swellies

Rob / 27.06.2004See All Event Posts Follow Event
The crew profiles for this year’s race show an incredible variety of endurance achievements on land and sea (click on the team names on the leaderboard to read them), so it’s not surprising that the race is one of the best for many years. The first 3 teams to reach Caernarfon were close to the record for the first sail, but the bulk of the fleet were not far behind them, and there have some been some fast times on Snowdon. Then most of the boats had to fight against the fierce tide in the Menai Strait, but forced all their way through without mishap. After the first 24 hours all the teams except one had completed the first leg of the race, and all the major trophies are being closely contested.

The only team to pull out were the leaders and last years winners, Spirit of Barmouth, and this left Hellefix in a clear lead when they left Caernarfon at 03.38 on Sunday morning. Next to leave were Sealion, who had gained 4 places on Snowdon, when James Mount and Brian Meakin put in the fastest time of 4 hours 05. They set off only 2 minutes behind the Dutch boat, but could not compete with them in the Menai Strait.

By the time they’d reached the Britannia Bridge their faster and lighter rivals had a 30 minute lead, but their struggles were only just beginning – the tide was turning strongly against them. Hellefix had quickly reached the next bridge, Telford’s original suspension bridge, passing safely through the rocks of the Swellies, and had only a slight tide against them ... but Sealion was struggling. Foot by foot they crept forward, with the wind down in the sheltered Strait often dropping. Eventually, they had to get out the oars and row the 11 ton yacht, it wasn’t easy, but it made a difference.

But as they laboured forward Ryde Harriers came up behind them. It was a slow motion race with Sealion moving more slowly than Ryde Harriers, who had more sail and weigh only 6.5 tons. They overhauled them just below the huge towers of the Telford Bridge to take second place and it had taken Sealion almost an hour to move the half mile between the two bridges. But they got through and their runners had made it possible with their fast time … and then by rowing!

Without a favourable, if fickle, wind those behind them might have had to moor and wait 6 hours for the tide to turn, but no one did. The following fleet put up their Spinnakers and forced their way through on a bright sunny morning. A slow procession of colourful sails moved up the Strait, though at times they stood still. 5grislinaboat had a difficult time for a while and lost out in their battle with Veto, rivals in the Tilman Trophy.

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