About the race
If you are new to our challenging race and want to know what it’s all about, here is a brief introduction.
Teams of four or five per yacht sail from Barmouth to Fort William, with two of the crew climbing the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland en route, running the equivalent of three marathons in 3 or 4 days. Team members must be over 18 years old.
Use of engines is not allowed, except for safety reasons in specific areas in ports. However, a unique feature of the race is that rowing is allowed, and over the years, many teams have been known to row during light airs and periods of calm. Back up support teams can meet the teams on land but are restricted in what support they can give. Many teams participate without any form of back up at all.
Barmouth to Caernarfon
The first leg starts from Barmouth, yachts sail approximately 62 sea miles, past Bardsey Island and the Lleyn Peninsula, over Caernarfon Bar and into Caernarfon. A compulsory five-minute kit check by marshals is carried out before the runners set off to the summit of Snowdon via the Mountain Ranger Path and return via Llanberis, a distance of 24 miles.
Caernarfon to Whitehaven
Here crews can opt to sail around the isle of Anglesey or continue, under sail only, through the Menai Straits. This has been an interesting decision for some skippers to make in previous years. After a further sail of approximately 100 sea miles yachts arrive at the marina in Whitehaven where another set of marshals await runners. This is the longest land leg of the race, the distance to Scafell Pike and back being some 40 miles, so bicycles are allowed for the first part. The initial 13 mile cycle is via a cycle path and forestry track. Cyclists should be aware that this track is not suitable for bikes with racing tyres. Marshals, located at Ennerdale youth hostel, will look after bicycles while athletes make the run which takes in Black Sail Pass and Wasdale Head. Here they will again be met by friendly marshals at Wasdale Head Hotel, this time with food and drink! Runners then proceed to the summit of Scafell Pike and return to their yacht via the same route.
Whitehaven to Fort William
This sailing leg is a distance of approximately 227 sea miles rounding the Mull of Kintyre and into the Sound of Jura, through some of the most beautiful scenery but with many tidal gates to negotiate. The race finishes just north of Fort William at Corpach, the entrance to the Caledonian canal where the sailing is over and skippers can lock in to Corpach Basin and lie alongside. The runners, after checking in with the marshals, set off to the summit of Ben Nevis. Their race is finished when they return and cross the finish line.
Historic Records Involving Ravenglass and/or Multihulls
These records were established in the years 1977 to 1999 when Ravenglass was the port from which the runners set off to climb Scafell, but it should be noted that for the first three years of the race, Whitehaven was allowed to be used as an alternative to Ravenglass. In 2000 Whitehaven became the only port to be used for the Scafell climb, which meant that the runners approached Scafell from Ennerdale rather than Wasdale. The change made little difference to the sailing times, but because the runners’ distance was increased by 14 miles, and an extra 4,000 feet of climbing was involved, bicycles were allowed to be used for the first section of some 15 miles to Ennerdale.
For the first 17 races multihulls and monohulls competed together for the honours. For the following five years they each had their own races, before the rules changed in 1999 to restrict entry to monohulls only. These changes are reflected in the historic records in the section below; they also include records put up by ladies’ teams.