3 peaks winners 2019

In 2019, a Royal Dee member skippered a boat entered into the Three Peaks Race. Briefly, this is a yacht race with a difference. The boats start at Barmouth and finish at Fort William. The race is divided into three legs; Barmouth to Caernafon, Caernafon to Whitehaven and finally Whitehaven to Fort William. Added into the race is a requirement to climb the highest mountains of Wales, England and then Scotland. Teams usually consist of the crew of the yacht and two runners for the mountains stage. The mountains are Snowden in Wales, Scafell Pike in England and Ben Nevis in Scotland. The winner is the team that finishes in the shortest time. For more detail on the event, click here.

The following report has been submitted by Royal Dee member Robert Morris who skippered the winning yacht.

All yachts carried a Yellow brick tracker that allows you to follow the course sailed by the yachts. Click here > http://yb.tl/threepeaks2019.
 



The yacht was Sanderling, a Bavaria 36 owned by the family and, I believe, a Royal Dee registered boat.
The crew consisted of myself, Dad (Tiffer Morris and Royal Dee member) and Toby (my cousin) as the sailors and Dan Ayers and Ben Zeman as the runners.
 
The race is fascinating to look
back on because there were so many opportunities to make decisions, normally offshore racing is long periods of holding a steady course interspersed with sail changes and occasional mark roundings. This race was full of headlands, rocks and backeddies which all presented opportunities to lose hours of time.
 
There are three key areas that I can identify as pivotal, the first was the Straits. We arrived at Caenarfon Bar to find all the faster boats waiting for the tide (and their courage) to rise enough to get over it and sailed straight past them. The runners then managed to get up and down Snowdon in an amazing 4 hours and 9 minutes, which gave us a shot at getting through the Swellies before the tide became too strong. Our route was fairly unconventional and, looking at some of the scans that Bangor Uni has done of the rocks, pretty reckless. I will give my Dad, Tiffer Morris, full credit for it, though he claims the inspiration for the route plan came from his father, the late Stuart Morris. The tracker only updated every 15 minutes so I've traced our actual route over the top for those who might be interested, I'd be entertained if anyone can correctly guess which rock we hit.
 
The second was the runners, although mentioned above, I haven't really expressed how impressive their performance was, neither of them had any significant sailing experience and both felt pretty seasick, yet they were still only beaten by one team on Snowdon and Ben Nevis. Even whilst we were approaching Whitehaven in pitch black, falling down some proper waves (the log topped out at 16kts), which was enough to have us sailors a little nervous, they wanted to warm up on deck. They were up against professional runners and still managed the fastest time on the Scafell stage at 7 hours 49 minutes, the only faster time in the last three years being 7 hours 39 minutes. Despite arriving at Fort William 15 minutes behind the first multihull they were able to chase them down and cross the line first. The effort that they put in and the support they received from the shore team was truly phenomenal and even more impressively, they put up with our idiocy and some awful recovery conditions.
 
The final key point was the asymmetric spinnaker that we had made for the boat. It was a truly spectacular sail, we used it as a code zero around the Mull of Kintyre, a broad-reacher in the Straits and, incredibly, a dead runner in the lochs and approaching Corryvreckan. The dead run was achieved by releasing about a metre and a half of tackline and gybing the main, the helm then had to work gently to keep the boat underneath the spinnaker as it oscillated from side to side. Any more than 13kts apparent and it was too much for the poor boat to handle, this wasn't necessarily a problem as her hull speed is low enough that the main and jib would happily top us out anyway. There is something that makes me shudder when thinking about snuffers, but in this case, being as short handed as we were, it meant that a single person could drop or hoist it, which was irreplaceable. If anyone is looking for a new spinnaker, unlikely in the current climate I know, I cannot recommend GP Sails any higher.
 
Message from Dan Ayers (Runner):  I suppose the things which immediately spring to mind is - how tough it was to recover and prepare for the next leg whilst being thrown about below deck or rowing, - we benefited a lot from having an excellent support crew to provide us with sustenance and encouragement - it was tremendous fun...

The Original Three Peaks Yacht Race is one of the oldest and most remarkable multi-sport endurance races in the world. 

It draws competitors from all sporting backgrounds & with sailing experience from off-shore cruising to round-the-world races. sailing & sports clubs, military & company teams all enter & compete on equal terms.