Dee Caffari and Pip Hare recount their different experiences on one of the world's greatest endurance races, the Three Peaks Yacht Race.
Our runners returned from Scafell exhausted after 9.5 hours of cycling and running. Team Aparito was lying in 4th place and we needed to do something big to overtake three boats that had already left Whitehaven and give our runners the two-hour head start they needed by Ben Nevis.
By the Mull of Galloway we were under spinnaker, runners tucked up below recovering and the three sailors trimming the boat as hard as we could. We had overtaken two boats and could see the outline of the leader in the moonlight. Gaining on them fast, we decided to pass inshore, right under the cliffs of the Mull. There was palpable tension as we scraped our way along the shore. Gusts were rolling down the cliffs, heeling the boat and rounding us up. We worked intensely.
The strategy paid off and with the sunrise we were leading the fleet. Then all our efforts vaporised as the wind disappeared and our rivals on Pure Attitude sailed effortlessly up behind.
We scrambled into our rowing seats, choking on the disappointment that such hard work could be so cruelly undone. For the next couple of hours we ghosted between wind holes – rowing to the next set of ripples, then letting the sails take the strain before the wind ran out.
We were all starting to suffer. I had blisters on my palms from the rough wooden oars, Nikki and Elin’s backs were hurting, none of us had slept, but we rowed through the pain determined to keep our lead.
When the new breeze arrived the tide was against us and yet again it was time to fight for every metre, short tacking up the shoreline, sometimes going about only a few metres from the shore. We made close to 100 tacks that afternoon.
Through the evening the wind increased and we beat our way north in lumpy seas. By now we had gained a decent lead. As we crossed the sailing finish line our hearts were in our mouths. As our runners, Jo and Lowri, set off, the summit was no longer visible; it was raining and the wind was building. We sailors waited at the pontoon, agitated and powerless. But At 1049 Jo and Lowri ran over the finish line and Team Aparito had won line honours for Leg 3. Our overall place on handicap would be 2nd overall with Pure Attitude taking 1st.
This race was a feat of incredible endurance from beginning to end: sailing, rowing, running, cycling, navigating, weather routeing and strategy are mixed with sleep deprivation. We also fielded a team of talented and determined athletes who all just happened to be women. We raced on equal terms and loved every minute.
Apart from Pip, Team Aparito included solo sailor Nikki Curwen, ocean rower and adventurer Elin Haf Davies, ultra-marathon runner Lowri Morgan and rower, runner and Ironman contestant Jo Jackson.