The First Boats Arrive But The Race Isn’t Over
After 4 days of racing (and rowing) the first boats in the 41st Three Peaks Yacht Race reached Corpach just after 7pm tonight. They sailors arrived relieved and elated (and all talking about beer), while the runners were deflated at not being able to run up Ben Nevis.
First to arrive was the Challenge team Smithers Purslow who were all in high spirits and delighted to reach the finish line (even if the race is not yet finished). They soon cracked open their own beers for a celebratory toast. “It was what it said on the tin,” said Andrew Bussey, “it was a real challenge and we needed good team work to get here.” Steve Fraser added, “Our objective was to get here for 7pm as we felt that gave the runners time to get up and down Ben Nevis before the worst of the storm.”
In fact they arrived at 7.04pm and Andrew Leech said, “We were ready to set off and give it a go, but you have to make a decision and in a way it takes the pressure off me and I feel responsible for looking after Caroline and I was worried about going up at night in bad weather.”
The first two race boats followed at 19.24 and 19.27 with Wild Spirit just ahead. They had raced intensely thoughout the past 36 hours and arrived just 3 minutes apart! As they approached the finish together, passing the marker buoy where they could start the engine, Digital Built Consultants snagged a rope around their prop! In a very sporting gesture Wild Spirit went back to pick up their runners (not knowing then that the run was called off).
After pulling into the lock at Corpach (one end of the Caledonian Canal) Ian Alcock of Digital Built Consultants said, “After the first few days we were thinking ‘never again’, but that racing with Wild Spirit was fantastic, like nothing we’ve done before.” The crews looked weary and when Wild Spirit skipper Paul Jackson was asked to smile for a photo he said, “Smile, I’m too tired to smile!” He wasn’t that tired though as he managed to do a little jig and a song about ‘drinking beer very soon’.
The runners too had been caught up in the excitement of the racing and were anticipating racing each other on Ben Nevis, and they were not so happy with the decision to stop the run. Des Tivnan from Digital Built Consultants just said, “It’s an adventure race for heavens sake, I think we should get on with it.” Stuart Walker off Wild Spirit, said, “We thought we could get up and down in good time tonight, so it’s disappointing.”
His running partner was concerned it would be colder tomorrow after the front passed through, with fresh snow on the paths. All were keyed up with adrenalin to finish the race so the response was natural. However, it was a decision the race had to make with 100km/hour winds and heavy rain forecast and the risk of runners being out overnight.
The boats are now moored up overnight in the lock basin (and the teams are enjoying those beers) and they will return at 14.00 ready to run and finish their race, by which time we expect Baloo and Ajax to have arrived as well.
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