The 39th edition of the famous Three Peaks sailing and hill-running race is now open to old-hands and first-time entries alike, and you could be taking part

The 39th edition of the Three Peaks Yacht Race on 11 June 2016 is open for entries. The Three Peaks Yacht Race is one of the oldest and multi-sport endurance races in the world. It is a unique event combining sailing, running and a little cycling, with the quirky feature that rowing is allowed in moments of calm. It takes competitors through some of the most spectacular scenery in the United Kingdom and truly challenges both sailors’ and runners’ navigational expertise.


You don’t have to be a hardened yacht racer to take part, or even a super-fit fell runner. The race draws competitors from a wide variety of sporting backgrounds and sailing experience, with many cruising sailors joining their first race. Private crews, sailing clubs, military, university, corporate and charity teams all enter the race and compete on equal terms.


Teams of four or five per yacht sail from Barmouth on the west coast of Wales up to the finish in Fort William on the west coast of Scotland. Two of the crew are required to climb each of the highest mountains in Wales, England and Scotland en route, thereby running the equivalent of three marathons in 3 or 4 days.


During the first leg from Barmouth, yachts sail approximately 60 miles, past Bardsey Island and the Lleyn Peninsula, over Caernarfon Bar and into Caernarfon. The runners then set off to the summit of Snowdon, a distance of just over 24 miles by the time they are back at the boats. There is no pause after the run, as it’s straight on to the next phase of the race.


Light-winds-in-the-Menai-StraitThe second leg from Caernarfon to Whitehaven offers the sailors some unique navigational challenges. There is the tough decision either to sail around the Isle of Anglesey or continue, under sail only, through the infamous Menai Straits.

After about 100 miles yachts arrive at the marina in Whitehaven for the longest land leg of the race. At just over 40 miles, event organisers have taken pity on competitors and bicycles are allowed for the first part. Runners then proceed to the summit of Scafell Pike and return to their yacht via the same route.

The third leg from Whitehaven to Fort William involves approximately 230 miles of stunning sailing, rounding the Mull of Kintyre into the Sound of Jura through some of the most beautiful scenery but with many tidal gates to negotiate. The race finishes just north of Fort William at Corpach, which is the entrance to the Caledonian Canal where the sailing ends and the runners set off on a 14 mile run to the summit of Ben Nevis and back to the finish line.


If you are keen to try something a bit different or are feeling even a little bit adventurous, the race’s organisers would like to hear from you. You don’t even need to do any running – there are plenty of runners looking for boats. The organisers can match up skippers, runners and crews. Entries made before 1 March 2016 cost £800 and thereafter £900, which covers all the costs associated with running the event, mooring for boats, prizes.

Story by Theo Stocker at Yachting Monthly


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