Australians and Israelis enter 3 Peaks Yacht Race

This year's sailing/mountain running marathon sets sail from Barmouth on 19 June

Thursday May 20th 2010, Author: Norma Stockford, Location: United Kingdom

The Barmouth to Fort William Three Peaks Yacht Race entry list is once again full this year and has attracted two international entries, from Israel and Australia.

Now in its 33rd year this classic sporting event will challenge 23 intrepid teams to sail from Barmouth in north west Wales on 19 June at 16.00, bound for Fort William and carrying runners who will scale the highest peaks of Wales, England and Scotland on the way.

Those who successfully reach the finish will have sailed 389 nautical miles, risking sandbanks, rocks and fierce tides en route up to Scotland. The three sailors aboard will get little rest as the race is continuous, and the two runners in the team must complete 72 miles horizontally and climb 14,000ft vertically to reach the summits of Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. They also have a 13 mile cycle ride at both the start and finish of the route to Scafell Pike, which is the longest land leg in the race. That is no easy task when you may have to run at night, unsteady on your feet due to sea sickness and having had little sleep.

Many of those on the start line will know just how tough the race is as they have entered before, but they are drawn back by the challenge and the knowledge that every year’s race is a different experience.

For the two international teams the race will be a new experience and they come from distinctly different backgrounds. Team Whistler from Australia recently won the Tasmanian Three Peaks Yacht Race, one of several races around the world inspired by this original event, and they have chartered the Reflex 38 Lightning Reflex, which has won the race several times. All are experienced competitors and they are clearly out to complete a unique double win.

Team Krishna from Israel are all 40 this year - and are a mid-life crisis team! They are racing in memory of their friend Yoav Nir who died of cancer at the age of 27. All were sea scouts in Haifa together and as Yoav was both a sailor and a climber they looked for an extreme race to honour his memory and will be on the start line of this year’s 3 Peaks Yacht Race.

There are many other reasons teams come together. Many sailing, mountaineering and running clubs are represented, while the Stormforce team are all veterinarians and Silver Surfers drew their sailors from the company SolutionsPT.

There are also several family teams, including Topsham Sea Fever, who have two couples on their team, and the Ricketts family on Kithross II. The race is an annual outing for this family and skipper Bill Ricketts (at 69 the oldest competitor), will be racing with his sons Neil and Colin, who will both be taking part in their ninth race.

Some teams come back to try and finish the race, like Fantom, who will be on their 3rd attempt to reach Fort William, and for others the race is a long held ambition. Andy Syme, an NHS programme manager with Team On & Up, has wanted to compete for 20 years. Another returning entry hoping to finish is the 1930 Camper and Nicholson 40 footer Driac. This classic yacht will celebrate it’s 80th birthday during the race and the crew describe the cabin as “like a down-at-heel gentleman’s club, redolent of pipe smoke and whisky …”

Charity fund raising is an important part of the race and last year Team Torbellino from Stratford on Avon raised over £8000 for the James Myatt Trust, who provide disadvantaged young people with sailing experience. They are back again this year to raise more money and in this time in a J/109 which they say should be slightly more competitive.

There is competition throughout the race, for sailing legs, running legs, handicap scores, the King of the Mountains title and even for being last to finish and slowest on the hills. This race has almost twice the number of trophies as it does competitors!

Among those returning with ambitions of winning some of the trophies for the fastest performances are last year’s winners EADS Innovation Works skippered by multiple winner and race tactics guru Geoff West. However, this year the Relfex 38 he normally sails in the race is on charter to Team Whistler and he is racing his X-99 (which won the race in 1999). Two of last year’s winning crew are back; co-skipper Gary Clayton and runner Martin Beale, a former King of the Mountains winner, but John Donnelly, who was with them last year, is back competing on his own HOD35 White Clouds. He says he raced with EADS last year to “learn tips on winning the race” .

The EADS team will surely do all they can to ensure he does not take their title, but their motivation for returning every year is not just a competitive one, they understand the unique character and challenge of this race.

“The race is a fantastic event that means the whole crew must work together in often difficult and fatigued circumstances. This race really does require the whole to be more than the sum of the parts to finish, let alone race - where else can you get such a challenge?”

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