The 40th Three Peaks Yacht Race

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First Teams Into Caernarfon

Rob Howard / 17.06.2017See All Event Posts Follow Event
White Cloud arrive in Caernarfon
White Cloud arrive in Caernarfon / © Rob Howard

After the light winds at the start it was a somewhat faster than expected sail on the first leg to Caernarfon with the lead boat arriving at dusk. 

First to pull alongside the pier was Hare Hill, where their support crew were waiting to leap aboard as the two sailors switched to being two runners and came ashore.  There is a 5 minute time out for a kit check on arrival and this allows a moment to speak to the incoming runners, who appeared relaxed and chatty, though that may have been nerves in Pip Hare’s case.  This was a new situation in a race she knows so well as a sailor – setting off for Snowdon summit in the dark.

“It was a better sail than I thought it would be,” she said, “the wind picked up and we had a good race with Wight Rose right up to Caernarfon Bar.  Then he ran hard aground. He must have missed a buoy or something, but it looked bad as he was well on his side and I wonder how easy it will be for him to even get off.  We were right alongside the buoy in the channel and had only 0.3 of depth to get in on the falling tide.”

Hare Hill had arrived at 21.45, right on low water, and gave their estimated time on the mountain as 5 hours 30 minutes.  Charles Hill checked how to signal their position on the summit on their YB Tracker and the pair ran off, leading the race on this first stage.

There was some drama with the boat after they arrived when a loose rope caught around the propeller and the engine jammed.  Ash Harris from the support crew subsequently pulled on his wet suit and googles and dove down with a knife to cut the rope away. “I’ve done this before,” he told me, “but never in the Menai Strait!”  He managed to free most of the tangled rope and the engine was restarted in time to move off the pier, just before the second boat came in.

Sometime later we found out that Wight Rose had freed themselves from a mud bar when they arrived in 3rd place at 23.18. When I spoke to Alex Pilkington he said, “We managed to get off using the engine and anchor on a rising tide. I am feeling pretty queasy now after that, and don’t feel like running up a mountain.”  Skipper Geoff West later explained that he’d reversed off on engine and the Race Director will have to decide if a penalty will be applied.

They were not the only boat aground however.  “Ajax were coming towards us,” said Pilkington, “and we were getting the fenders ready but they veered away and then went aground themselves.” His running partner Pavel Paloncy seemed bemused and just said, “I was in my bunk and knew something was wrong, but not how serious it was.” At the time of writing Ajax are still stuck at the entrance to the strait.

Second in were White Cloud and they must have had very little water under the keel when coming into the Strait.  They arrived at 23.18 and runner Alistair Morris said, “It was very hairy going around Bardsey, very rough and we were very close in shore. It was much worse than last year. We saw a boat behind us lose its spinnaker and start circling but I couldn’t look back to see who it was.”  (The yacht Morris had seen was most likely Team Mammoths who went into Port Nefyn.)

Fourth to arrive were Moby J and they gave the fastest predicted time for Snowdon (3 hours 50 minutes) though Tom Bush said. “I’m no sailor- I was really sick.” He was definitely glad to be ashore and on dry land!  They were followed by Team Aurora and then Wild Spirit.

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