The Three Peaks Yacht Race 2016

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At the Double for ABF - The Soldiers Charity

Rob Howard / 10.06.2016See All Event Posts Follow Event
Ivan Rowlatt and Russ Archer on Barmouth Beach
Ivan Rowlatt and Russ Archer on Barmouth Beach / © Rob Howard

It was in the last century when multi-hulls last took part in the Three Peaks Yacht Race (they’ve not raced since 1999), but for this event one is back, though not racing competitively.

Ahead of a proposed reintroduction of multi-hulls for next year’s 40th race a 26 foot Wharram Tiki catamaran will join the race, taking part as ‘ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity’.  It is a military team of 4 (all majors), from the Army Air Corps, Royal Gurkha Rifles, Royal Artillery and The Parachute Regiment, and it was Charlie Bairsto and Tom Bright who bought the boat. The yacht, named Skinny Dipper, was in a state of disrepair and has taken a lot of time to return to a seaworthy condition.

I spoke to Mike Rowlatt of the team’s support crew who explained they’d had several training trips in preparation, but in the lead up to the race he’s the one who has been doing all the preparation!  The catamaran is designed to dismantle for transport on a trailer, so it arrived by road on Tuesday and since then Rowlatt (who is the Hereford Chair of the ABF charity), and Colin Till, who is a full time worker for the charity have been busy assembling the boat.

They are camped out on the beach Barmouth beach which they drove the boat onto, and have had lots of local help the past couple of days as they rebuilt the boat. “It’s more than a 2 man job,” said Rowlatt, “but everyone has been great and we had 3 other helpers to raise the mast.”

“We had to position the hulls and lash the cross-beams in place, then fix the trampolines and raise the mast,” he added. “It’s an unusual design based on Polynesian boats and we have to lash the hulls carefully as the flex from the binding is what provides its stability.” Finally he said, “It’s gone well, but its all been a much bigger commitment than we thought to be honest.”

Later I spoke with Russ Archer and Ivan Rowlatt as they prepared their kit to go aboard and finished the preparations on their rowing rigs.  (These were taken from the boats that their team mates used to row the Atlantic some years ago.)

“It’s quite an awkward rowing angle,” said Archer, “but at least we are not as high the other boats for rowing and as we are much lighter we should do well rowing.” 

Rowlatt said, “The boat was rescued from Poole Harbour in a considerable state of disrepair last year and it’s taken a lot to get it ready. It was in the car park at work so we could work on it during breaks and then taken to The Hamble for some more expert help.  We sea trailed in The Solent and then it was a case of packing it up to come to Barmouth while all 4 of us were in the USA on a course. We’ve only just got back and are still a little jet lagged but we’ll be ready to go!”

They will sail as a team of 4, two on deck and two in the ‘torpedo bunks’ in the hulls and the plan is for all of the team to complete two ascents and for all 4 to go up Ben Nevis together. They are raising money for the charity with a fundraising target of 20,000, which will go help serving soldiers, veterans and their immediate families in times of need.

You can donate to their cause at and follow the team on Twitter @sailthepeaks


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