Barmouth - Caernarfon


Dawn at Caernarfon Pier

Reflex race ahead.

In bright, sunny conditions with a steady Northerly force 4 'Simply Red' was the first the start line when the flare was fired, but it wasn't long before the Reflex 38's started to take charge. 'Leopard Clipper' and 'Team Reflex' lead the way, while 'Charter Continuum', skippered by Barmouth Estate Agent, Ian Hudson, began a running battle with 'Simply Red'.

And so it remained as everyone enjoyed superb sailing and racing conditions on the first leg to Caernarfon. The 2 lead boats were always in close contention, taking just over 10 hours and arriving shortly after midnight, just 8 minutes apart. Reflex lead the way, and with former King of the Mountains winner Richard Ludlow, now paired with experienced mountain runner, Brendan Bolland. They set off for the night time run hoping to extend their lead, but the Scouting team on 'Leopard Clipper' are proving tough competitors and Kim Collinson and Damon Hoad finished in 4 hours 35, just 10 minutes slower than Bolland and Ludlow.

Behind them Charter Continuum had lost ground after a disastrous tack just before reaching Bardsey Sound, losing 4 places. Simply Red initially took advantage and moved clear in 3rd place, but as they rounded Bardsey Head they too made a costly mistake, pushing too far out away from the shore and getting stuck in a tidal eddy. They could only watch as the bright yellow hull of Team Mojo, one of the smallest yachts in the race, sailed past them. In the difficult tidal conditions in the area they stayed close in shore, as did most of those following.

Despite this mistake Charter Continuum did pull back into 3rd position before reaching Caernarfon, boat speed and sail area telling once again, although the dogged team on Simply Red were only 10 minutes behind. The Oyster 34 is one of very few made and is 21 years old. Skipper Mike Horrocks commented, "We thought weíd give her a 21st birthday present." Then he added, "The mainsail is 21 years old too!"

Also doing well are Team Mojo and Thunderchild, two of the smaller boats, both entered for the Tilman Trophy, Parhelion and another Barmouth boat, Red Dragon. Apart from the first 2, all the runners got to run across the summit of Snowdon in daylight, and for many it was a spectacular sight as the top rose about a bank of cloud.

Looking at the times for this first leg the pattern of the race seems to be set, with the 3 Reflex 38ís fighting it out at the front, and close competition in the Tilman and King of the Mountains Trophies. Perhaps the most impressive performance was from the Scout Fellowship team, who seem exceptionally well prepared and ready to give last winners some stiff competition.