The 44th Three Peaks Yacht Race Starts Saturday July 9th
The 44th Three Peaks Yacht Race starts from Barmouth next Saturday, July 9th, at 17.00 and this year there are 9 intrepid teams of sailors and runners taking part in this iconic race.
The race is one of the oldest multisport adventure challenges in the sporting calendar and has a global reputation and following. It challenges teams of 5 (normally 3 sailors and two runners) to sail up the West Coast of the UK from Barmouth to Fort William, stopping off along the way for runners to go ashore and race to the summits of Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. (The ‘3 peaks’ are the highest points in Wales, England and Scotland.)
At sea the race is 389 miles of difficult coastal sailing including the passage of the Menai Strait, rounding the Mull of Kintyre and Mull of Galloway, and finding a route through the tidal gates of the inner Hebridean Isles. The race is non-stop so the crews are racing day and night, the racing is tactical and it doesn’t stop if there is no wind – then the crews get out the oars!
The runners too can be on the mountains in daylight or dark, and their aim is to reach the 3 summits, even if they set off feeling seasick! Snowdon is a 24 mile round trip with 4000’ of climbing, and just 12 hours later they could be setting off on stage two, which is 40 miles of cycling and 12.5 miles of running to the top of Scafell Pike and back. The final run is the steepest, an 18.5 mile to run to the snow covered peak of Ben Nevis at 4413’ and back.
It is an epic challenge and to succeed teams need great teamwork and endurance. This year the entries include one international team (from Holland), and all of the boats are monohulls. (There were no multihulls entered.) Seven of the boats are competing in the race, and two are in the non-competitive Challenge Class. These are entries from Sedbergh and Shrewsbury Schools, and it is the first time in the long history of the race that school teams have entered.
Runners will compete together for the King of the Mountains title and for the trophies for each individual peak. The Tilman Trophy for all -round performance is also open to all boats, and to win this prestigious cup 4 of the team must reach on a summit. This cup is named after the man whose sailing and climbing exploits inspired the race, and is won by the first over the line so handicaps don’t apply.
The one international entry this year is team ‘Food For Flow’ from Holland, skippered by Rob Voreen, sailing his Dehler 35 CR. This is a team of family and friends, who have been planning to race since 2017, and after preparations and then Covid interruptions will now finally make it to Barmouth!
There are many competitors coming back to take part in this addictive race again, including Geoff West in his X99 (Team Osprey Meadows). With this boat he won the race in 1999 and 2010. Can he win in the same boat in 3 different decades? West has won the race 4 other times, sailing his Reflex 38, and setting the race record of 2 days 14 hours and 22 minutes in 2002. That boat is being sailed by another former winning skipper this year, Paul Jackson, with Team Wild Spirit.
As always there are a wide variety of yachts entered, including a J111 (team Roaring Forties), a Hanse 458 (Team Seas the Life), a Malo 34 (Team Olympioz) and a Sigma 33 OOD (Team Baloo). IRC Handicaps range from 1.097 to 0.847.
Amongst the runners it is always hard to predict who will be the most competitive as the race is such a unique challenge. However, Team Wild Spirit has recruited two young runners who have both raced at junior level for GB & NI at the World Trail and Mountain Running Champs. Dave Cordon and Matt Knowles will probably start favourites, but how are their sea legs, and can they row?
When the race starts next Saturday even the most experienced of competitors will not know quite what challenges and adventures await them on the journey from Barmouth to ‘The Ben’ – and that is one of the great attractions of this unique race. Anything can happen ... and probably will.
The boats will leave Barmouth harbour at 16.00 next Saturday (July 9th) after a day of family activities on the quayside, and the running of the Barmouth 10k road race. The race will start at 17.00.