The Danu Technologies team have won the 34th PowerBar 3 Peaks Yacht Race.
The Irish team comprising sailors Glen Ward, John Prudhoe and Andrew Miles, and runners Deon McNeilly and Gary Bailey, sailed to victory on a Ker35 built in 2001 for the Grand Prix IRM rule, and its combination of speed and lightweight in the hands of this team, was good enough to beat several boats and skippers who have won in the past. They were narrowly pipped by Team Whistler for the fastest time on the third sailing leg (by just nine minutes), but won’t be too worried about that as they are now the proud holders of the Daily Telegraph Cup.
The two runners crossed the line as the light was fading at Corpach, racing in at speed along the canal towpath to sprint under the finish line at 22.02, setting a very fast time of 3 hours 38 minutes for the Ben Nevis run. Deon McNeilly, who has won many Irish mountain running events, including the 2 day Mourne Mountain Marathon, said at the finish; 'I’m glad we won as I don’t want to come back! We wouldn’t have been here if we didn’t think we could win.'
His running partner, Gary Bailley is an ultra runner, and he was worried about a knee injury sustained on Scafell Pike, but overcame the pain with race victory in sight. 'I thought it would be really painful,' he said, 'and it does hurt, but it was manageable.' Deon added, 'When we got to the top he said it would be bad on the way down, but then he skipped off down the rocks and I couldn’t keep up! Then when we hit the road at the bottom he went even faster!'
No doubt all the team will have their aches and pains tomorrow, but they will be so much more bearable after a race win in this world renowned event at the first time of trying.
[For the record their total race time was 77 hours 37 minutes, with a sailing aggregate of 60 hours 41 minutes and a running aggregate of 16 hours 56 minutes.]
The second team to finish were White Clouds, whose runners, Stuart Pitches and Eddie Winslow, crossed the line at 23.44 to complete the race for their team, than they both fell down exhausted, in unison, either side of the path! Once they’d recovered it was time for team hugs and photos, and for skipper John Donnelly to crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
There was an added feel good factor for this team as they had been forced to retire early last year, after running aground in the Swellies and being hit by another yacht. They were even hit by Peaks Addix before the start this year and Donnelly jokingly said, 'We finished .. . despite Geoff West trying to sink us!' Their runners had caught the Australian pair near the summit, racing past them once they had them in sight. Pitches thanked all the marshals on duty afterwards saying, 'it’s been a great race and I’ve really enjoyed it. After year it’s great to finish the whole course and to come second is even better!'
The Australian pair crossed the line 40 minutes later, setting a time of 5 hours 10 minutes on the mountain. The two official competitors (Rees and Jones) were followed up and down by the team runners (Jacqui Guy and Michael McIntyre), so 4 of the team went up and down Ben Nevis.
Rees said; 'That’s a hard mountain, but we’re happy with the time. We just wanted to stay under twice the time of the quickest team!'
It is a safe bet they have done so, and for the second year running have come third in the race, but this time they are the Tilman Trophy winners.
Three Peaks Yacht Race website