Three Peaks Yacht Race – Barmouth to Fort William

Published: 23 June 2010

The Barmouth to Fort William Three Peaks Yacht Race combines yachting and mountain running and cycling into one of the greatest adventure challenges in British sport.

Five team members are allowed, comprising a combination of sailors and runners, their aim is to sail from Barmouth, on the Welsh coast, to Fort William in Scotland, via Caernarfon and Whitehaven, climbing the highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland on the way.

The race is open to mono-hull yachts only and engine power can only be used close to port, but yachts can be rowed, even pulled along by crew members on the shore but cannot have outside assistance. Its a straight race and the first team to get their runners back to the finish line in Fort William, having completed all the mountains, wins the coveted Daily Telegraph Cup.

There are trophies for fastest teams over each leg, fastest runners over all mountains (King of the Mountains) and many other various prizes, including the Tilman Trophy when four out the five team members have climbed the peaks. The race starts at Barmouth, mid Wales, sailing to Caernarfon, in the Menai Straits. As runners ‘clock-in at the marshaling point sailing time ends for the leg. From here two team members run to the top of Snowdon and back. This leg consists of 62 sailing and 24 miles running.

From Caernarfon, yachts sail to Whitehaven. Once inside the marina and through scrutineering two team members start a cycle ride to Ennerdale where the run to the top of Scafell Pike and back begins. Once completed, a cycle ride back to Whitehaven completes the leg. A total of 100 sailing, 26 miles cycling, and 26 miles running.

Whitehaven to Fort William is the longest sailing leg of the race. Sailing through some of the Scotland’s most beautiful, and sometimes wildest, scenery. The leg ends with the shortest and steepest run of the entire race finishing at the entrance to the Caledonian Canal. The leg takes 227 of sailing and 17 miles of running.

The entire race involves a total of 389 miles of difficult coastal sailing, 26 miles of cycling and 72 miles of running, with approximately 14,000 feet of ascent, including 2000 feet between Ennerdale and Scafell Pike, to reach the highest points in Wales, England and Scotland.

Set in 2002 the race record stands at 2 days 14 hours and 4 minutes but teams have until 1800 on Saturday to finish the race. Generally most teams make the end of race party on Thursday evening, competitors sometimes opting to complete the Ben run the following morning.

The Three Peaks Yacht Race attracts some of the world’s best sailors and runners, as well as teams who hope just to complete the course, which is a considerable achievement in its own right.