The Irish yacht, Danu Technologies (owner & skipper Glen Ward) has won the Three Peaks Yacht Race and the prestigious Daily Telegraph Trophy. This race combines yacht racing with cycling and mountain running as teams of five sail from Barmouth to Fort William while conquering the three highest peaks in Wales (Snowdon 3560ft), England (Scarfell Pike 3210ft) and Scotland (Ben Nevis 4406ft). The Irish team stayed ahead of the competition to win in a time of 77 hours 37 minutes.
The victory was all the remarkable given the Ker 35 was last across the line after a disastrous start. The race began at Barmouth on the mid-Wales coast last Saturday and sea conditions were treacherous with 20 foot waves making it difficult for the race fleet to even leave the harbour.
Danu Techologies, entering the race for the first time, was still being prepared minutes before the start, had to be cut from its moorings and then suffered damage as it motored through the worst of the seas to the start line. Crashing down from a big wave one of the runners aboard was swept across the deck and broke a stanchion, which then punctured the jib, and the navigation computer on which the race route had been planned was destroyed. As the start flare fired the boat was out of position with its mainsail trailing, yet the crew of 3 and their two mountain runners finished the race as winners. They made the 6th fastest passage to Caernarfon, where elite Irish mountain runners, Deon McNeilly and Gary Bailey, made the 24 mile crossing of Mount Snowdon, the highest point in Wales, in the hours of darkness in 5 hours and 10 minutes. After a safe passage of the Menai Strait, and with light winds prevailing, the racing pedigree of a boat designed originally for the IRM Grand Prix rule enabled the team to take the lead. The runners then stayed ahead on the longest land stage, reaching Scafell Pike, England’s highest summit, after a mountain bike ride to Ennerdale and a run across Black Sail Pass, which took 8 hours and 6 minutes.
The 32 boats taking part faced strong headwinds, then light airs and periods of calm on the route around the Mulls of Galloway and Kintyre and up through the Inner Hebridean islands to reach Fort William, and the final summit, Ben Nevis. A unique feature of the race is that yachts are rowed through periods of calm and the crew of Andrew Miles and John Prudhoe, took their turn at the oars when required to stay ahead of the challenge from Team Whistler, an Australian team who have formerly won the Tasmanian 3 Peaks Yacht Race and were looking for a unique double win in a Reflex 38. Unable to make up the deficit when they arrived second at Fort William the Australian team switched tactics to win the Tilman Trophy, which requires 4 of the team to reach a mountain summit. Skipper David Rees and crewman Tim Jones put on their walking boats to climb Ben Nevis and claim the prestigious trophy, though they did lose second place overall to Team White Cloud, a HOD 35, skippered by John Donnelly.
The other major trophy of the race, for the Kings of the Mountains, went to endurance runners Martin Beale and Ian Ridgeway, who were racing on team Peaks Addix. They were fastest on all 3 peaks and had a total running time of 13 hours 30 minutes, 2 hours ahead of their nearest challengers.
Full timings and results, plus more news and photos are on www.threepeaksyachtrace.co.uk