For the first time in the long history of the UK’s greatest adventure sailing race, two school teams are entered and will start with the race fleet from Barmouth on July 9th.
Teams of staff and pupils from Sedbergh and Shrewsbury Schools are entered into the Challenge Class, which was introduced to encourage wider participation in the demanding race.
The class allows more teams of sailors and runners to experience the unique course, which challenges sailors to race non- stop through the tidal gates and stunning scenery of West coast from the mid-Wales resort town of Barmouth to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.
On the way, they stop at Caernarfon and Whitehaven, and the athletes in the teams run to the summits of the 3 peaks; Snowdon, Scafell Pike and finally Ben Nevis.
The yachts and crews complete 389 miles at sea, while the athletes race 54.8 miles on foot, cycle 40 miles (on the Lake District stage), and climb 16,500 feet in 3, 4, 5, or maybe 6, action packed days.
The class is open to anyone, and is ideal for youth organisations and sailing schools, allowing engine use if required and larger teams working in relay, but racing on the same course and at the same time as the main race.
The Shrewsbury School team will comprise 6 pupils and 4 staff, racing together on a Swan 46 Mk1. Staff member Sam Griffiths said;
“Having participated in the Scottish Islands Peaks Race in May, our intrepid team look forward to more High Mountains and Cold Seas. We are very much following in the wake of Bill Tilman, and we’ve advertised for crew quoting: ‘no pay, prospects, not much pleasure!’ This is going to be Type 2 fun at its best; and for a charitable cause close to our hearts.” (The race was created to honour the exploits of renowned sailor and mountaineer Major H.W. Tilman.)
The team’s shore support will be Griffiths’ father, who took part in the race in 1980, so the team spans 3 generations and 42 years at the Three Peaks Yacht Race.
Their charity is the James Pickering Foundation, which offers mental health support to teenagers. Some of the pupils racing knew James, who tragically took his own life in January this year.
The Sedbergh team will also be raising money, for the Young Lives vs Cancer charity and aims to reach £10,000.
This team will also include 6 pupils, some of who had never been on a boat before applying. They will be accompanied by 4 staff, two on board and two on shore, and by Ashley Field, skipper and owner of the Jeanneau Sunfast 3600 they will race on.
Oliver Barnes, a teacher at the school, has put the team together and said;
“I personally wanted to lead this trip because of my previous sailing experience and set alongside Sedbergh School’s running tradition, this the perfect way to bridge the gap between the two. It is challenges and events like these that will stick with the pupils for the rest of their lives and will hopefully pave the way to bigger and better things.”
Issy, one of the pupils racing, said: “I relish the idea of challenges, mental and physical, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to really push myself and see what I am capable of.”
The two school teams will join the racing boats on the start line at Barmouth on 17.00 on Saturday July 9th.