Thursday, June 6, 2019

Thrilling Three Creeks Race For J/111 Team

J/111 Journeymaker team off Devon, England
(Devon, United Kingdom)- Many people have heard of the Three Peaks Yacht Race in Scotland, but for the past six years, Devon has been running its very own version and the stories of the west country delights are starting to get out. How hard do you need to look to find an excuse to spend a weekend on the South Devon coast, some sailing, some running and some celebrating!

Many teams in the event are based in the West Country, but there is now a well-established path for the intrepid to join from further afield. This year it was the J/111 JOURNEYMAKER II Team (Chris Jones & Louise Makin) from Royal Southern Yacht Club that made the trek.

Eleven years ago, the JOURNEYMAKER team won the Three Peaks Yacht Race and this was their first reunion event since then. An event that can be completed in a weekend, where you can get your boat home in a day rather than a week, and where you get to stop overnight seemed a fitting event for the reformation of the team that had an average age of 50 back in 2008.
J/111 Journeymaker II in Three Creeks Race
The race, although delightfully compact, does set some pretty serious challenges. It starts with a row across Dartmouth Harbour by the runners before they set off on an 8 mile run that goes up every cliff and down into every cove around the coast path to the southeast of Kingswear. Once the runners rejoin their yachts in Darthaven Marina, there is a short sailing race to Salcombe.

“Normally, the sailing leg is a quick couple of hours, but making the tide gate was critical in the dying winds that we experienced this weekend,” said JOURNEYMAKER skipper Chris Jones. “A couple of smaller boats that were a bit slower ended up rowing for about an hour before they could drop off their runners, which is a tough way to finish the day.”

The clock stops when the runners return to the beach. Their challenge is a slightly less dramatic, but slightly longer run along the coast path to Prawle Point and back.

Having put the boats to bed, everyone gets to relax. The sailing instructions stated that the race would restart at 0600 hrs on Sunday morning, which everyone was trying to pretend they were looking forward to. Nevertheless, there was a definite sense of relief at the race briefing when this was changed to 0800 hrs. Everyone slept a bit longer and a bit better.
J/111 Journeymaker attempting a beaching
The race committee had reserved options to shorten the course if the forecast was very light. However, late on Saturday evening, the message came through that we were going to be sailing the full course from Salcombe out around the Eddystone Rock and back to finish in the Yealm, where the final running leg finish’s at the Newton Ferrers Yacht Club.

Class 2 boats sailed a shorter course, but the bright morning found the fleet gathered at Salcombe Bar, counting down to 0800 hrs. JOURNEYMAKER II got a good inside position with the Code 0 up and was leading Class 1 at the right turn exit from the Salcombe Estuary and it quickly became clear that their race was going to be with the 40ft Dazcat ‘HissyFit’.

“The heading out to Eddystone was full up wind and our 36 ft J/111 was able to keep up,” explained Louise Makin, the veteran JOURNEYMAKER navigator and returning Three Peaks Race runner. “We were delighted when HissyFit had to duck us on port on our final approach to Eddystone, but we couldn't match them on the beam reach back to the Yealm.”

The entrance to the Yealm has a sandbar that only has 1.5m of charted water at low tide, which is not an issue in a cat that drops off their runners by parking on the beach. A yacht drawing 2.4m needs to drop off their runners in a dinghy and row them ashore.

The run from Cellar Beach, just inside the bar on the south shore of the estuary, out to Lambside and back to the Yacht Club is the flattest and fastest of the three running legs and relished by the two thoroughbred JOURNEYMAKER runners, Iron Man Gordon Baxter and GB veteran triathlete Jeremy Cole. Local expert Adam Parry completed the JOURNEYMAKER crew for 2019 and will be back in running form for next year.
J/111 owner Louise Makin running
Having entered with a very realistic ambition of not being last by miles, the JOURNEYMAKER team ended up delighted with their second place. HissyFit, the easy winners had both the fastest runners and the benefit of parking on the beach and have now won the event several times.

Gordon Baxter, never short of words, summed up the weekend for the whole crew when he announced, “We’ll be back”!!  Thanks for the story contribution from Chris Jones & Louise Makin. Add to Flipboard Magazine.