by John Hudson
Three Peaks Yacht Race 2011 – Teams race for the win in Whitehaven
The Race continues onto Whitehaven - Three Peaks Yacht Race 2011
It was a fine first night of the race. For the early runners there was some high cloud and it was windy on the summit of Snowdon, but for the most part the temperatures have been warm, the rain has held off, and the runners coming back from the mountain have been in good spirits. They have also been running some fast times and with the tide not holding up the yachts in the passage of the Menai Strait, the leaders were past Anglesey and well on their way to Whitehaven by early Sunday morning.
All but one of the yachts still racing had arrived by 07.05 on Sunday, with Kasuje the last to arrive. This wasn’t surprising as the boat has been leaking and the bilge pumps have been running all the time. The only one not to arrive yet is Peaks and Pies, and the Tracker is showing them in Pwllheli, but the Harbour Master there has no knowledge of them and they have not been in contact. There is always one mystery boat unaccounted for somewhere on the first stage!
There were a further two retirements in the night with Salty Peaknuts losing their chart plotter (to which the Race Director commented, 'Should have bought some paper charts!'), and Ecilipse who lost their rudder and were grounded on Mussell Bank in the entrance to the Menai Strait. They were pulled off by the lifeboat having been there almost two hours and taken for repairs to the Caernarfon Dock, but are out of the race.
On the mountain there were some very fast times, and as expected, the running competition is going to be as close as the sailing. Quickest were the Peaks Addix pair of Martin Beale and Ian Ridgeway in 3.56 and they are the only runners under four hours. This pushed them up from 15th place on arrival to sixth on departure, and only one hour five minutes behind the leaders. With light winds further forecast for the end to the race, and two more runs to come, last year’s winners are still in the running. (And the sailing!)
The leading runners were pushed hard by other pairs who contest Kings of the Mountains. GFT took 04.02, and Adidas Terrex 04.08, with White Clouds a little further back with a time of 04.35 and race leaders Team Whistler (AUS) taking 05.06 and being overtaken by GFT. Torbellino were quick too, taking 04.57 and they are listed as Tilman Trophy team so are in good position for that prestigious trophy. To compete for it four of the crew must reach a summit, but Team Satisfaction are trying to go one better and put all five crew on a mountain top. Now that really is in the spirit of the race and its inspiration, climber, explorer and sailor, Major HW Tilman.
Racing to Whitehaven - Three Peaks Yacht Race 2011
The next run is doubly important as a quick time can ensure the boat gets into and out of Whitehaven on one tide, gaining valuable extra hours. And of course the ability of the runners to help with the sailing and to row will count as well. Although the running is a smaller part of the total race time it is just as important as the sailing. It is not just the best sailors or the fastest boats that wins, it’s the best team.
As the runners returned it was GFT now lead down the Menai Strait, followed by Whistler and White Clouds, all within 10 minutes of each other and those three battled their way up the Menai Strait, past the dangerous rocks of The Swellies and under the two bridges to Anglesey. They were under the old Telford Bridge and past Beaumaris around 05.30 on a sunny morning, moving at almost seven knots and chased by Madam Wen, Predator and Peaks Addix, Danu Technologies and adidas Terrex.
This is one of the best races for many years, and the next instalment is in the Lake District, starting tonight...
P.S. Kithros II chose not to go through the Swellies and go around Anglesey.
See the event website for Three Peaks Yacht Race