Australians take second tilt at Three Peaks Race UK 2011

The crew of Team Whistler aboard their own yacht Whistler used the Derwent Sailing Squadron race in chilly Hobart as a final work-out before flying to a hot summer in the UK. Photo: Peter Campbell - 2011 Three Peaks Race UK
Rob Cruse
Three Peaks Race UK 2011 - Tassie’s Team in the Spotlight

Tasmania’s Team Whistler tonight (Australian time), will begin their second consecutive bid to win the UK Three Peaks Yacht Race, one of the greatest adventure challenges in British sport.

Team Whistler, comprising sailors David Rees (skipper), Tim Jones and Jory Linscott and runners Jacqui Guy and Michael McIntyre, from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, finished third overall last year following their victory in the Tasmanian Three Peaks Race, which is modelled on the British event.

The UK Three Peaks Yacht Race will take a record fleet of 32 yachts from Barmouth on the Welsh coast to Fort William on a Scottish loch, via the ports of Caemarfon and Whitehaven, running to the summits of Snowdon (3560 feet), Scafell Pike (3208 feet) and Ben Nevis (4408 feet) on the way.

The race, now its 34th year, covers 389 nautical miles of difficult coastal sailing, 18 miles of cycling and 72 miles of mountain running, with a total ascent of 14,000 feet to the highest points in Wales, England and Scotland.
The Australian team has chartered the same yacht which they sailed so well last year, the 38-footer Lightning Reflex which David Rees this week sailed from Cowes to Barmouth. 'We figure the boat has done the race so many times it should know the way,' quipped Rees. The boat has been re-named Team Whistler for the race.

Last year, the Tasmanians arrived at Fort William in second place by just eight minutes, but dropped back to finish third overall after the run to the peak of Ben Nevis. Earlier, Team Whistler had led the fleet to Whitehaven, only to be forced to wait to go through the lock while watching other slower boats get in ahead of them.

'This year we hope we can get through the lock and complete the run on the one tide,' skipper Rees said, adding that the experience gained in their first challenge last year would be vital in their second bid to add the UK Three Peaks Yacht Race to their Tasmanian Three Peaks Race victory in 2010.

Most of the teams are from UK clubs, but also include British army teams and most of the crew that won last year, sailing as Peaks Addix. The first sailing leg from Barmouth to Caenarfon and the Snowdon run on Sunday morning should set the pattern for the fastest yachts and runners in the record fleet.

Most of the yachts are cruiser/racers but a potentially fast boat is the Ker 35 from Ireland, Danu Technologies, but the team has had no experience of the unique Three Peaks conditions and challenges of ripping tides, hidden rocks and boat-stopping sandbars, not to mention the challenge of the three peaks.

Race organisers are hopeful that the rain which yesterday hid the views of Cadair Idris, across the Barmouth estuary, will have cleared by the starting time of 1600 hours, local time.

All yachts in this year’s UK Three Peaks are fitted with trackers, enabling the race to be followed on the Event’s website: click here