Three Peaks Yachting Challenge

PUBLISHED: 11:12 17 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:23 20 February 2013

Three Peaks Yachting Challenge

Three Peaks Yachting Challenge

Five Herefordshire sportsmen are taking on the challenge of a lifetime this month. Nicola Goodwin tells the story of the county's Three Peaks Yachting competitors

Five Herefordshire sportsmen are taking on the challenge of a lifetime this month. Nicola Goodwin tells the story of the countys Three Peaks Yachting competitors

This month four members of Hereford Triathlon Club are joining forces with Hereford Sailing Club to take on one of the oldest multi-sport endurance races in the world. Even though no members of the five-man team have ever done such an event before, theyre confident that they can bring back some silverware to Herefordshire. The team includes two members of the Great Britain Age Group triathlon squad, three qualified yacht masters, three Ironman competitors, four fathers, a magistrate and a mountaineer, but this is a completely new challenge for them all.

Stuart Austin, Julian Morgan, Ian Rivers, Andy Taylor and Jon Tetley are taking on Britains seas and mountains in the Barmouth to Fort William Three Peaks Yacht Race. In as few days as possible, theyll be sailing 389 miles around Britains coast and stopping off en route to run up the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales. They will run 72 miles and ascend 14 thousand feet against the clock and some of the worlds best sailors and runners.

Just getting to the start line will be a major challenge. The team of five includes three accomplished sailors and two long-distance runners but the week will also involve the pressure of navigation, planning and taking on the unpredictable British weather. Andy and Jon, the two novice sailors, have also had to cope with learning how to sail very quickly. In March, they spent their first weekend on the boat Auburn Lass just hours after completing a 50-mile run across the Black Mountains. "It was really tough literally learning the ropes on the boat when were worn out," said Andy. "All that we wanted to do was lay down but it was really good training to be clambering around the boat and working hard with tired legs. Theres not going to be any time for resting during the race so we had to get used to it."

Julian, Ian and Stuart are all experienced sailors but work commitments mean that they wont be able to spend as many hours on the boat in preparation as theyd have liked. During the week before theyll be preparing by sailing Auburn Lass down from Oban to the start line in Barmouth, but theyre aware that theyll be taking on teams that will have been able to spend a lot more hours at sea.

One part of the race that they can prepare for in Herefordshire is the running and theyve already spent hours pounding the countys footpaths and trails. Julian will be concentrating on the sailing part of the challenge, but the other four spent a week in April training up and down Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. Jon and Andy will be the main runners, aiming to do two of the three run stages while Stuart and Ian will run the middle stage and take charge of the sailing alongside Julian. "Although we cant predict the weather or what the other teams will do, we know that the mountains wont be changing between now and June," said Jon. "Andy and I have been increasing our running mileage for the past six months and were now regularly doing runs of 20 miles or more in training. Herefordshire is full of hills which are painful but great preparation for the three peaks," he said.

The rest of the race is full of unknowns though. Theyll be taking on more than 20 other teams and its a simple against the clock race; the first team to arrive at the finish will win. "Were aiming to cross the line by the Thursday evening depending on the weather and sea conditions," said Stuart. "Navigation and strategy is going to be crucial, knowing which route to take and working with the tide. We may find ourselves racing towards the next port and then finding ourselves stuck a mile out to sea waiting for the tide or haring up the mountain and then having to wait for hours before we can set sail again."

The task of navigation is down to Ian, even though hes no stranger to tackling great heights. He was part of the British Armys attempt at climbing the West Ridge of Everest and is an accomplished runner. "There are a number of decisions to be made regarding routes and we will have to gamble at times, but we can also prepare thoroughly and go through all the scenarios to give ourselves the best chance of success," he said.

All five will spend at least five days on board Auburn Lass that was bought by Hereford Sailing Club in 2008. Shes a 39-foot long Dehler cruising/racing yacht with a single mast and, although she has an engine it can only be used at delegated times during the race. Auburn Lass is the most experienced member of the team as in the past three years Hereford Sailing Club members have sailed her to Spain, Brittany and Ireland as well as cruising through British waters.

The team is also delighted to have gained sponsorship from four thriving local firms. Level Peaks Associates based in Hereford has made a substantial donation. Last year the company secured a contract with the Ministry of Defence to supply new lightweight, see-through rifle magazines for British troops. LPA also delivered the new camouflage pattern which is printed on all clothing and equipment solders wear today. Herefordshire firms Prolease, 7Y Energy, and Domestic and General Insulation Ltd., have also helped the team but the team has raised all additional funding.

They are also hoping to gain some funding and awareness for the Hereford branch of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust by taking part in the race. Jons youngest daughter Lucy has the condition and her unrelenting energy and zest for life has been an inspiration to the entire team. They have set up a page where people can donate to the fund at yachtrace. â– 

The race starts on Saturday, June 25, from Barmouth and youll be able to follow the teams progress mile by mile at the official race website or via the teams Facebook group page Hereford Triathlon Club 3 Peaks Challenge.

The Fantastic Five

Stuart Austin

Stuart, 46 is the director of Prolease and Promarine Finance based in Hereford and is the driving force behind the challenge. Hes a member of both Hereford Triathlon Club and Hereford Sailing Club. He lives in North Herefordshire with his wife Liza, also a keen triathlete and sailor, and their three children. The Three Peaks Yacht Race seemed like an ideal way to combine all of his interests and see just how fit, strong and funny his teammates are during a week on a boat.

Julian Morgan

Julian, 51, is the commodore of Hereford Sailing Club, a Hereford magistrate and the managing director of 7Y Services based in Herefordshire. An experienced yacht master, he will skipper Auburn Lass. Hes a keen skier and enjoys shooting. He is married to Patricia and they live in Herefordshire with sons Angus and Tristan.

Ian Rivers

Ian, 45, is a former soldier and a member of the Great Britain age-group triathlon squad. In 2010, he competed at the European and World Long Distance Triathlon Championships in Spain and Germany. In 2009, he was the Welsh Time Trial Points Champion and with Jon Tetley, was winner of the Welsh Cycling Association team award and the Herefordshire Sports team of the year accolade. He is a qualified yacht master ocean and cruising instructor and has sailed across the world. He is an experienced mountaineer and skier and lives in Herefordshire with his wife and two children.

Andy Taylor

Andy, 39, is a postman from Hereford and has been competing in triathlon and marathons for 18 years. Hes currently training for Ultra Marathons and is aiming to compete in the five-day Coast to Coast race. He is the least experienced sailor in the team, saying that the closest hes ever been to a yacht is on the cross channel ferry. Andy was born and educated in Hereford and lives in the city with his girlfriend Katherine.

Jon Tetley

Jon, 34, is a college lecturer and forestry contractor and a member of the Great Britain age-group triathlon squad. In 2010, he competed at the European Long Distance Triathlon Championships in Spain and together with Ian Rivers he was the winner of the Welsh Cycling Associations team award and the Herefordshire Sports team of the year accolade. Hes currently training for Ultra Marathons. Jon lives in Hereford with his wife Kate and daughters Evie and Lucy.

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