Spirit of Barmouth has won the Magellan Three Peaks Yacht Race

Spirit of Barmouth (Reflex 38) and her relentless crew of sailors and runners has won the 2003 Magellan Three Peaks Yacht Race.

In brilliant sunshine, Andy Sanderson and Tony Hodgson ran down from Ben Nevis and raced over the finish line on Wednesday to complete an impressive win for ‘Spirit of Barmouth’. The pair had taken only 4 hours and 6 minutes on the run up and down Ben Nevis and according to Sanderson “were on a real high at the top”. Relieved that it was all over they jumped into the lock basin for a celebratory dip!

Tony only came into the race three weeks ago as a late replacement. Though he was a runner, he had never done any sailing before.

This will be a popular win, as the Reflex 38 carried the name of Welsh town were the race starts, and is organised from. Two of the crew, Ian Hudson and Dave Bird, both from Barmouth and on the Race Committee were overjoyed. This was a second victory for both of them. “We did this for Barmouth, we’ve won it for the town,” said Bird.

No stranger to this Race, the Reflex 38 has raced this course a number of times. This year ‘Spirit of Barmouth’s’ owner Geoff West, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, was skipper and, with a committed crew, helmed her to victory. It was his third win in the race.

Geoff managed to sail ‘Spirit of Barmouth’ into Fort William with no engine to drop off the two runners and was surprised at the team’s success. “I didn’t think I was going to win it this year.” He added, “The runners on Hellefix looked so good and their boat speed is the same as ours so I wondered where we could beat them.”

Crew member, Ian Hudson had skippered the same yacht to win in the race two years ago, again in very calm conditions, and it was his suggestion to take an alternative course, through the Sound of Islay, which helped secure their win. It’s a tactic that has never succeeded in the race before, but this time it worked spectacularly well as their nearest challenger the Dutch yacht ‘Hellefix’ was left half a day behind.

Geoff explained, “No one has won this Race at the first attempt as there is a lot to learn. We were constantly coming to choices on tides and tactics and thinking we’d tried this last year and it worked OK. Then Ian suggested doing something different by going through the Sound of Islay and we had to think about that! It nearly didn’t work and had it failed we could have lost the race. Ian was a bit quiet at the time knowing his head was on the block.”

“Without using the oars we’d have been swept back into the Sound so those last few metres of rowing were the crux point of the race for us, and luckily we made it.”

Having won the race in storm Force winds last year his skills as a light wind sailor came to the fore this time. Describing their approach to the Corran Narrows, which come right at the end of the race, Hudson said, “It was flat calm and we couldn’t feel a breath of wind. The wind gauge read zero but Geoff had us moving at half a knot with the spinnaker. He was catching some breeze in the very top part of the sail, trying to keep momentum and we were all staying quite still on the deck so as not to disturb him. We were even whispering to each other. He did the same in the Sound of Islay to get us through. It was very skilful sailing.” Asked if he wanted to come back after his third win West just said, “Yes, of course.”